It was a mammoth task that the world’s best and most enduring trail runners took on at the World Championships when the gun went off at 6:30 a.m. on Friday morning. A young German showed the race of her life, surprisingly leading the field for several kilometers.
When Katharina Hartmuth then ran 86.9 kilometers over the Kreuzjoch, the Hoadl and the Nordkette to the finish carpet on the Landestheater forecourt in Innsbruck, she had 6,500 meters in altitude in her legs and a smile on her face. Cheering and with the German flag in her hands, she ran the last few meters towards the finish line and jumped across the line as if it had all been a piece of cake. Adrenaline and euphoria made it possible, because the 27-year-old sensationally won silver in the Long Trail at the World Championships.
“What a day. A tough race. An incredible atmosphere,” she later wrote on Strava. Your end time: 11:29:14 hours. Only the French Marion Delespierre, who passed Hartmuth after almost nine hours, was faster in the end (11:22:31 hours). Another Frenchwoman, Manon Bohard Cailler, joined the German, but Hartmuth held out and was able to pull away again later. She finally ran the last kilometer on the flat after more than eleven hours in 4:41 minutes.
Overall, the route, which was identical for the 135 women and 176 men, consisted of 72 percent trail, 16 percent asphalt and 12 percent forest roads. Not only Hartmuth, who comes from sport climbing and took part in her first running competition in 2016, was enthusiastic from the German team: Rosanna Buchauer convinced in fifth place, Ida-Sophie Hegemann finished 15th. In the team ranking, this meant silver behind France. The German women (Laura Hottenrott, Domenika Mayer, Hanna Gröber) had already convinced at the vertical on Wednesday with second place in the team ranking, now the next team and the first individual medal followed on Friday.
The German hopeful Hannes Namberger had a less good day at the Long Trail. The 34-year-old was aiming for a top ten place and was even considered one of the favorites for the podium. But it just didn’t work. “I was very well prepared,” he said in an Instagram video after the race. “But the first six hours went horribly, I had no energy.”
Namberger was too far behind in the final third to move up from outside the top 20, but he fought – it was enough for 14th place (10:33:47 hours). Victory went to 23-year-old Frenchman Benjamin Roubiol (9:52:59) ahead of Italy’s Andreas Reiterer and Slovakia’s Peter Frano. Namberger was still able to smile at the finish. “I’m proud,” he said, “that I reached the finish line after going through hell and back.”
And then there was it: the individual medal for the German men. On Saturday, the last day of the World Championships, the so-called Mountain Classic in Innsbruck was on the agenda, in short: up and down again. The World Championship route consisted of a seven-kilometer lap with more than 370 meters of altitude difference, which had to be completed twice. The Germans weren’t among the favorites – but one surpassed himself: Filimon Abraham.
The 30-year-old only caused a sensation on the street in March: At the marathon in Barcelona he ran the second fastest time that a German had ever managed over this distance. 2:08:22 hours meant tenth place, and the time is only twelve seconds behind the international standard for the 2024 Olympic Games. Paris, that’s his big goal. But now Abraham caused a sensation in Innsbruck: behind Leonard Chemutai from Uganda (56:14 minutes) and Ombogo Kiriago Philemon from Kenya (8 seconds) he celebrated bronze at the World Championships (13).