Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Francois d'Haene victorious on 1st stage of the 2012 Salomon 4 TRAILS

A posse of roughly 350 trail runners left Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany, at breakneck speed this morning embarking on a 4-day quest to reach Samnaun, Switzerland by Saturday. The race sports a strong field of athletes from 19 nations promising lots of competitive action along nearly 160 km of mountain trails. It was Francois d'Haene (FRA) who claimed the top of the podium on the first stage today but it was indeed a hard-earned victory. Several runners kept nipping at his heels, occasionally claiming the lead for short stretches en route to Ehrwald, Austria.
Twenty-six year-old Francois d'Haene (FRA) of Team Salomon clocked in with a time of 3:52.18 hours as he arrived in Ehrwald, Austria, with a two-minute lead over his closest competitor. That performance ended up being only seconds over last year's speed record set on the same track by Tom Owen's (3:51.53 hours).
Jose Francisco Gutierrez (ESP) of Team Avietu Tierra Tragame, who had challenged today's leader repeatedly with tactical charges, ended up crossing the finish line in second place (3:54.03 hours). A seemingly fatigued Philip Reiter (GER) of Team Salomon Deutschland ended up being third after 3:57.30 hours on the trail.
Former trail-running champion (2009) Thomas Lorblanchet (FRA) missed his chance for a podium position but arrived fourth overall with a time of 4:02.00 hours.
It turned out to be a riveting day on today's 36,3 kilometer stage which packed gruesome 2,410 m of vertical gain. Philip Reiter, widely considered a top podium contender, started out in a slow 10th position but successively worked his way to the front – eventually even leading the field by two minutes. On the ascent to the German-Austrian border his pursuers Jose Francisco Gutierrez and Francois d'Haenem caught up, however, and eventually managed to shake off the German pacesetter on the lengthy downhill sections into Ehrwald. Philip Reiter ended up being surprised about the turn of events: "I was astonished to find myself in the lead mid-way. But in the end the heat got to me on the last long climb".
Among the Master Men forty-year-old Santiago Obaya Fernandez (ESP) traded his colorful team garb for a leader jersey by the end of the day. He spent 4:03.38 hours on the cross-broder trails between Garmisch-Partenkirchen and Ehrwald, earning a respectable 5th place overall with this performance. His team colleague Juan Agejas of Avientu Tierra Tragame (ESP) successfully fought for second place among the Master Men (4:06.55 hours) – a time fast enough for 6th place in the overall ranking.
Thomas Miksch (GER), five-time champion of the GORE-TEX® TRANSALPINERUN,cinched up another stage victory in the Senior Master Men category. The trail-running surgeon lived up to known form and reputation with his time of 4:26.49 hours.
In the Women category, it was Regine Schlump (GER) who had the honor of being first to rip through the finish banner in Ehrwald. However, the thirty-two year-old had to cede the overall leadership to lightning-fast Gaby Steigmaier (SUI), who started in the Master Women category but clearly still rules the trails. The forty-six year-old Swiss proved impossible to beat in today's stage with her time of 4:46.41 hours – a lead of nearly five minutes over junior competitor Regine Schlump (4:51.37 hours).

The route: 5 places - 4 stages – 3 countries
Four unforgettable days in breathtaking settings await the participants of the SALOMON 4 TRAILS. The route takes them from Garmisch-Partenkirchen (GER) over Ehrwald (AUT), Imst (AUT) and Landeck (AUT) to Samnaun (CH). Every day about thirty to forty kilometers and over 2000 altitude difference must be covered. In a high alpine terrain with altitude of up to 2800 meters above sea level the participants must be good prepared but also show some fighting spirit. The much sought-after finisher shirt awaits the runners after altogether 158 kilometers and 9800 altitude difference.

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