The 2023 World Mountain and Trail Running Championships came to a close after the Classic mountain race on Saturday afternoon. The Classic Race, also known as the Up and Down, was a two-loop course that covered a total of 15 kilometers (9.3 miles) with 751 meters of climbing (2,463 feet). While the course did contain a fair amount of dirt, roughly 3.6 kilometers (2.2 miles) each lap were on pavement pushing many in the field to race in road shoes. What that meant was the runners who came out on top not only had blistering leg speed but also possessed highly sought-after downhill running chops. Not saying they saved the best for last, but on the fourth day of the World Championship week the races were as exciting, and following along with the live stream made sure breakfast in our house also contained a good deal of yelling, “Go! Go! Go!”
After a blistering fast start the women’s race quickly became a two-woman battle between many-time orienteering World Champion Tove Alexandersson from Sweden and 2019 World Mountain Running Champion Grayson Murphy from the United States. The potential perfect pairing of an exceptional climber in Grayson and one of the best downhillers in the world in Tove – talk about exciting. While Tove came through the halfway mark in the lead, as the two women headed out on lap two Grayson quickly overtook Tove and never looked back. Having witnessed Tove’s downhill ability on lap one Grayson pushed the climb hard trying to put as much distance between her and the Swede as possible. The minute Grayson was able to put on the field on the uphill held and she won her second world championship gold (and second individual medal of these championships) in 1:04:29. Tove Alexandersson crossed the finish line just under a minute later for silver in 1:05:26. During the descent Tove battled with a surging Annet Chelangat of Uganda who momentarily took over the second position. However, that exchange was short-lived with the Ugandan faltering and ultimately fading back to finish 11th. The battle for the final podium position grew intense but it was Kenya’s Joyce Muthoni who came out on top in a time of 1:06:40. Filling out the top five include fellow Kenyan Valentine Rutto in fourth in 1:06:56 (bettering her fifth from the vertical race), and German Domenika Mayer in fifth in 1:07:09 (bettering her seventh from the vertical race). In the team competition, Kenya came out on top with 14 points, the United Kingdom finished second with 43 points, and France finished third with 46 points. Also finishing for the US were Allie McLaughlin (25th) and Rachel Tomajczyk (35th). You can find complete results here.
In the men’s race, it was a tight trio from Uganda, Kenya, and Germany who battled it out over the two-loop course. It ultimately came down to two 20-year-olds, including last year’s Junior Mountain Running Champion, battling it out for the top spot on the podium. Coming through the halfway point in fourth position was the surging Leonard Chemutai, impressive for the first-year senior. Sure enough, before the men hit the turnaround at the top of the second lap the 2022 Junior Champion, Leonard had moved into first position. Blitzing the final descent back into the city center he eked out the win, eight seconds ahead of second, in a time of 56:14. The battle for second and third took us all the way into town with Ombogo Kiriago Philemon from Kenya bettering his seventh place from the Vertical Race claiming silver in 56:22. In the bronze medal position was German Filimon Abraham just five seconds out of silver in 56:27. Rounding out the top five was the first lap race leader, Ugandan Eliud Cherop in fourth (matching his fourth from the vertical) in 57:26, and Vertical World Champion Patrick Kipngeno of Kenya in fifth in 57:27. In the team standings the Kenyan sweep continued with a team score of 15 points, Italy finished second with 30 points, and Spain finished third with 43 points. US finishers in the men’s race included: Liam Meirow (13th), Casey Campbell (26th), and Morgan Elliot (65th). You can find complete results here.
At the closing of the 2023 World Mountain and Trail Running Championships, we are all murmuring, “Oh my goodness I can’t wait until next year!” – well we’ll all have to be a little patient. That’s right, mark your calendars for 2025 as we enter the era of an ‘every other year’ crowning of champions. Where will we be heading? Aragón, Spain in the beautiful Pyrenees. While two years might sound like a long time, we believe this new format combined with the new timetable will truly allow the best possible fields to assemble. Where will you be in September of 2025?
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