Despite such a beautifully pure and healthy setting at the European Mountain Running Championships in Gap, it is sure to be a challenge for athletes, who will have to use all their skill, stamina and tactical thinking to conquer the challenging terrain of the French High Alps on Saturday.
In the men’s race it will likely be another duel between the Italian team led by last year’s winner, Bernard Dematteis, and Turkey with six-time champion, Ahmet Arslan, who finished third last year in Borovets.
Italy took the team title in 2013 but it was Turkey that lifted the trophy in 2012 with this year being the decider.
The women’s race never seemed so wide-open with eight runners from the top 10 finishers at the World Championships including the 2013 European champion, Austria’s Andrea Mayr. She will be up against Italy’s Alice Gaggi who took the world title last year in Krynica, Poland.
At the age of 16, Turkey’s Karagoz Ramazan was the youngest athlete in the field last year, but that did not stop him from winning the junior men’s title. He returns this year as the favourite for his own succession.
More than 250 athletes from 25 countries will compete will compete at the 13th edition of the championships on Saturday.