Geoffrey Gikuni Ndung’u fought, climbing 1074m to win the men’s title at the Adelholzen Hochfelln Mountain Race, while Austria’s Andrea Mayr won the women’s race in Bergen on Sunday, the fourth of five stages in the World Mountain Running Association Mountain Running World Cup.
Ndungu was joined by Eritrea’s Filimon Abraham at the start of the 9km race, chased by Francesco Puppi and Yossief Tekle.
Italian twins Martin and Bernard Dematteis were close behind and were able to break up the race in the latter stages by challenging the top positions.
An amazing crowd of fans cheered the final rush up to the Hochfelln peak where Ndungu – who had given a knock-out blow to Puppi during the previous two kilometres – was able to hold on to a narrow eight-second advantage to clinch victory in 43:48, his second win in this year’s World Cup after the Grossglockner round one in Austria.
Puppi and Bernard Dematteis came out strong from the final uphill. Puppi finished second in 43:56 while Dematteis took the bronze spot in 44:05, leaving Abraham in fourth in 44:18.
Jan Janu provided the biggest surprise of the day. The Czech runner produced one of his best results this season to finish fifth in 44:23.
With his second-place finish, Puppi now has an 85-point lead over Ndungu going into next week’s cup final in Smarna Gora and has taken a big step closer towards his dream of winning a first Mountain Running World Cup crown.
Austria’s Andrea Mayr prevented a Kenyan double by winning the women’s race, gaining revenge on Lucy Murigi, the winner in Andorra two weeks ago.
In pursuit of a ninth crown, the eight-time Adelholzen Hochfelln Berglauf champion ran away from the field to win comfortably in 47:44, just 16 seconds shy of her own race record.
Murigi finished second in 49:15 with Germany’s Michelle Maier, winner of 2018 Skaala Uphill race, taking third place in 52:06.
Mayr leads the WMRA World Cup standings by 90 points. A top-18 finish in Smarna Gora will be enough for the Austrian to win her fourth world cup.