The European Mountain Running Championships will be staged in Slovenia for the first time since the event came under European Athletics auspices in 2002 when the town of Kamnik plays host to this year’s event on Saturday 8 July.
Preliminary entries have been received from 21 European Athletics Member Federations for the 16th edition of the championships with over 200 athletes expected to compete on the demanding, predominantly uphill, course in the adjoining Kamnik-Savinja Alps.
The senior men – a title won in 2016 by Italy’s Martin Dematteis with the Azzurri also taking the team title for the 15th consecutive year – have to negotiate 12km of tough uphill but picturesque terrain with 1295m of ascent and only 75m of descent.
The senior women and junior men run over 8.5km with 1035m of ascent and 75m of descent while the junior women will do battle over 4.5km with 430m of ascent and just 10m of descent.
Although there has not been an Italian senior women’s individual winner since Elisa Desco won in 2008, they have also been the dominant women’s team in the last decade, winning six times since 2009.
However, whereas the Italian men are the clear favourites to add to their impressive winning streak, the Italian women may be under pressure in the defence of their title by 2012 and 2015 team champions Great Britain.
The final entry deadline is 28 June so who specifically will be making the trip to Kamnik – which has also staged the famous Grintovec Mountain Running race annually for more than 20 years –but one name who has already confirmed her presence on the start line and should be among the medal contenders is Italy’s Valentina Belotti.
Belotti has been pre-selected by the Italian federation and showed impressive form last month when winning the Bolognano-Monte Velo race, the opening leg of the World Cup on home soil in Arco, the site of last year’s European Mountain Running Championships, beating her compatriot, former world champion and 2016 European silver medallist Alice Gaggi by more than two minutes.