At the 2023 World Mountain and Trail Running Championships in Innsbruck, Austria, two Canadian trail runners placed in the top 20 in the men’s and women’s vertical events. Anne-Marie Comeau of St-Ferréol-les-Neiges, Que., and Alexandre Ricard of Squamish, BC, led the way for Team Canada on the 7.1-kilometre course featuring more than 1,000m of elevation gain.
Austrian woman wins on home soil
Comeau was the top Canadian finisher, placing 15th overall in 52:29, only four minutes behind Austria’s Andrea Mayr, who took the win in 48:14 on home soil. This win marked Mayr’s seventh individual world mountain running title and her first since 2017.
Mayr, 43, put her mountain running experience on display, playing the patient game on the foothills of Neustift. She started the first kilometre of the race in 13th place, and by halfway, she had made her way to the front of the pack, eventually overtaking Kenya’s Philaries Jeruto Kisang for the lead before the final climb at Elferhutte. Kisang held on to second in 48:51, and Grayson Murphy of Team USA was third in 49:22. In a post-race interview with World Athletics, bronze-medalist Murphy referred to the final climb at Elferhutte as “soul-sucking and never-ending.” The final climb up to the finish had a gradient of 40 percent in areas.
More convinced than ever that mountain runners are, as suspected, utterly mad.
Here’s Kenya’s Philaries Jeruto Kisang in the final 100m of today’s Vertical Uphill – and this is the world silver medalist. pic.twitter.com/Sp5OVkOdxo
— Cathal Dennehy (@Cathal_Dennehy) June 7, 2023
The Canadian women’s team finished eighth out of 22 countries in the vertical race, with Comeau leading the way. Comeau is a multisport endurance athlete, representing Team Canada in the skiathlon at the 2018 Winter Olympics and winning several U Sports XC titles with Laval University in Quebec City. Jade Belzberg was the second Canadian woman to cross the finish line in 27th place. Kerri Labrecque rounded out the Canadian top three in 54th to accumulate a team score of 96 points.
Kipngeno wins back-to-back
In the men’s race, 2022 champion Patrick Kipngeno of Kenya won his second consecutive world mountain and trail running championship. Unlike Mayr in the women’s vertical race, Kipngeno ran to the front from the start and danced up the hills, developing a 30-second gap over the chase group at halfway. He had extended his advantage by nearly a minute when he arrived at the final climb to the finish, winning the 7.1 km vertical race by a landslide in 40:18.
Coming in a minute and a half behind Kipngeno for silver was Uganda’s Levi Kiprotich in 41:51. Josphat Kiprotich was third in 42:04. In a post-race interview, Kipngeno revealed to the media that he spent the majority of the year training in Austria, which he said gave him a considerable competitive advantage.
Canada’s Ricard and Remi Leroux of Quebec led the Canadian men’s team to a top-15 finish out of 31 countries. Ricard finished two minutes back of the men’s podium in 44:08 for 17th overall, and Leroux came in 39 seconds behind Ricard for 25th. Gareth Hadfield of Calgary rounded out the Canadian top three in 106th place for a final team score of 148 points.
Here are the full results from the 2023 vertical uphill race. More action to come from the 2023 World Mountain and Trail Running Championships in Innsbruck, Austria, on Thursday with the short course 45km and Friday’s long course 85km. You can also follow everything Team Canada on their official Instagram page for the 2023 WMTR Championships.