Mackenzie on the trail of strong series finish in Nepal
CAPE TOWN – Meg Mackenzie lines up for her second successive Golden Trail World Series Grand Finale in Nepal tomorrow with hope of a strong climax to her season, potentially breaking into the top five in the final series standings.
The Cape Town trail athlete's third and fourth positions respectively in the Pikes Peak Marathon in the USA and the Ring of Steall in Scotland, suggest that tomorrow’s 42km Annapurna Trail Marathon, incorporating a lung-searing 3560m of vertical ascent, topping out just below 4000m, will be up her alley.
The experience of racing and mixing it up with the world’s best trail exponents over two European summers has transformed Mackenzie into a global star-performer and she is in her element in the build-up to tomorrow’s race.
“We are all here in Nepal together, preparing for the race and enjoying the country,” said Mackenzie. “I’m here with my brother to support me and the preparation’s going ok.
“We hiked up to high point of the race and there was just one day of rest scheduled before the race. It’s been a busy schedule, with not much sleep, but it has been really good to be here experiencing a beautiful country like Nepal.”
The two Swiss athletes, Judith Wyder and Maude Matthys, appear to be a cut above the rest and will start favourites for the top positions, with consistent Kiwi, Ruth Croft, Norway’s Eli Anne Dvergsdal, winner at the series opener at Zegama, and Italian veteran Silvia Rampazzo most likely to impede Mackenzie’s path to success.
Winner of last year’s Grand Finale at the Otter Trail, UK’s Holly Page, has been forced to withdraw with a foot injury.
It is hard to look beyond Spain’s Kilian Jornet for the winner and after Jornet’s recent mountain vacation at high altitude in the Himalayas, even less so. Jornet won all three of the series’ races in which he competed - Zegama, Sierra Neval and Pikes Peak - and few would bet against him making it four out of four.
Jornet has plenty of experience at elevation. He has summited Everest twice and many others boasting continental-highest status.
“The level on every single race of the Golden Trail World Series has been extremely high,” continued Jornet. “The race goes up to 4,000 meters and for sure that affects our performance when running, but all the athletes competing are used to training and racing at altitude.”
Rising star Davide Magnini of Italy won the Marathon du Mont Blanc and the Dolomyths Run earlier in the season and the steep up-and-down nature of the course is likely to suit him.
Fellow Italian, Nadir Maguet, is coming off a win at the Ring of Steall in Scotland in September and will also challenge strongly for a podium position.@StephenGranger3