Today (7) marks one month to go until the European Mountain Running Championships takes place in the village resort of Zermatt, Switzerland.
The yearly event is the focal point for Europe’s leading mountain running exponents and particularly so for Maude Mathys who will be looking to clinch her third successive individual title on home soil at the beginning of July.
Mathys won last year on an up-and-down course in Skopje and as is customary in odd years, the course this year will take place on a predominantly uphill course. Mathys has expressed a preference for uphill courses in the past and the Swiss withdrew from the Virgin Money London Marathon in late April in order to prepare fully for her title defence.
Should Mathys prevail individually next month, she will become just the second woman in championship history to win a hat-trick of titles - the other being Austria’s Andrea Mayr (2013-15). The odds are certainly in Mathys’ favour having won two years ago by 81 seconds before winning by more than four minutes in Skopje last year.
The Italians have won all but two titles on the men’s side since the championships came into being in 1994 and their team will be to the fore individually in Zermatt as well. The Dematteis twins - Bernard and Martin - have won four of the last six individual titles between them and were first and third in that order last year as the Italians took a clean sweep of the individual medals.
Despite Switzerland’s rugged geography - not to mention the country’s success on this terrain - this will be the first time the country has played host to the European Mountain Running Championships. The event is always one of the most spectacular foot races on the calendar and the famous Matterhorn mountain will provide an imposing backdrop to the four individual events on the programme in Zermatt.
The U20 men’s and women’s races will take place over 5.9 kilometres with an ascent of 448 metres while the seniors will compete over 10.1 kilometres, tackling an ascent of 1020 metres.