CAPE TOWN – Spanish super-star, Kilian Jornet, strong favourite to win the Otter African Trail Run on Saturday, (the grand finale of the Golden Trail Series) has dropped a bombshell by revealing that an injury following his race in Scotland last month had prevented him from running in the past four weeks.
“Unfortunately I haven’t been able to do any running preparation (for the Otter), as after Glen Coe (Scotland) I had some problems and have not been able to run,” Jornet said. “But to keep my fitness I have been skiing and cycling, which are maybe not the best for a race like the Otter Trail.
“But I have jumped once into water in a fjord, to prepare for some of the river crossings,” Jornet joked in reference to the feared Bloukrans River crossing on the Otter Trail.
“Not being able to run” might have been a slight overstatement, however, with Jornet proving his fitness with a measured sixth position in Sunday’s 29km Sky Race at Limone in Italy - the final in the Skyrunning series, assuring himself of being crowned overall champion for 2018.
Norwegian Stian Angermund-Vik, second to Jornet on the final rankings and a strong contender for a podium position on Saturday, was feeling the effects of months of competition. “It’s been a long season,” he confessed “I hope I can still run fast.
“I’ve done some interval sessions and a long run. I hope the body responds well to that. It will be a strong field, which will make it fun and I want to do well. I’ve heard that one half is more technical and the other is faster, but I don’t know which part is first!”
Spanish athlete, Eli Gordon, fifth on the final rankings, is focused on Saturday’s race. “The last weeks I have run through more undulating terrain, with less difference in altitude. I know the details of the race and I hope to enjoy it a lot.
“I never imagined being able to travel to South Africa and less to run a mountain race - I’m very excited and happy. My aim is to have a good race and if I can podium, so much the better.”
The present and the future. Kilian Jornet finishes 6th #LimoneXtreme in 3h10h45’ and congratulates the brilliant winner, Davide Magnini. Kilian is the new #SWS18 Overall Champion! pic.twitter.com/t3jMsB2uDO
Two athletes familiar with South African conditions will fancy their chances of a top finish on Saturday.
“The most satisfactory part of my season has been to recover so well from a serious ankle injury and to be back in the ‘circus’, enjoying running, orienteering and trail races again,” explained 2015 and 2016 Otter winner, Swiss athlete Marc Lauenstein.
“I tried to run several orienteering races to prepare for the technicality of the Otter. I try to prepare well for most of my races, but I also know that you can’t force success.
“So I’ll try to find a good flow, enjoy the scenery, the technical trail, the variety of the course and the interesting competition.”