ZEGAMA, Spain - Switzerland's Remi Bonnet (23) and Swede Ida Nilson (37) were crowned Zegama-Aizkorri Marathon champions in the Salomon Golden Trail Series opener in Spain on Sunday in one of the toughest trail marathons ever held and against one of the strongest fields assembled.
Cape Town trail athlete, Meg Mackenzie, ran the race of her life to place an excellent 13th and the second from the Southern Hemisphere following the excellent 3rd by New Zealand’s Ruth Croft.
South African pair, Kane Reilly and Christiaan Greyling, struggled in the treacherous mud in the second half of the men's race to fade out of top twenty positions after Reilly had been prominent among the leaders in the first stages of the race.
After days of rain, which reduced the course to a mud bath at times, the rain stayed away and the locals flocked to the mountains in their thousands to cheer on the athletes.
Bonnet won the Vertical Kilometre challenge on Friday afternoon, but showed little sign of fatigue as he scorched into and early lead which he held till the finish.
Last year’s champion and record-holder, Norwegian Stian Angermund-Vik, ran conservatively, racing over the Spirtu Sanctu summit at 20km in 8th position, 3 minutes off the lead. He moved through the field in the second half to take second place, less than two minutes behind Bonnet.
Nilson overhauled Spanish athlete, Laura Orgue, on the final climb at 30km, before using her fearsome downhill speed to good effect to finish all of 6 minutes ahead of Orgue to win “the race of my dreams”.
Men: 1 Remi Bonnet (Swi) 3:53:55; 2 Stian Angermund-Vik (Nor) 3:55:25; 3 Bartlomiej Przedwojewski (Pol) 3:56:16; 4 Marc Lauenstein (Swi) 3:59:15; 5 Oriol Coll (Spain) 4:01:01
RSA: 40 Kane Reilly 4:31:58; 72 Christiaan Greyling 4:47:42
Women: 1 Ida Nilson (Swe) 4:38:37; 2 Laura Orgue (Sp) 4:45:45; 3 Ruth Croft (NZ) 4:48:40; 4 Dragomir Denisa-Ionela (Rom) 4:51:40; 5 Sheila Aviles (Sp) 4:53:44
RSA: 13 Meg Mackenzie 5:16:47