South Africa’s youngest female on the international trail running circuit Hayley Preen (19) blazed over the finish line in 4th position in her age category in the 2017 Youth Skyrunning World Championships at the Skyrace® Arinsal 15km in Andorra on Saturday.
Preen was racing against elites from around the world, including Spain, Italy, France, Japan, the Czech Republic, Andorra, Portugal and the USA.
Initiated by the International Skyrunning Federation (ISF) to develop and give exposure to young runners with talent, the youth skyrunning world champs are held annually, each year at a different race in a different country. There are three age categories in the event: group A (16-17 years), group B (18-20 years), and U23 (21-23 years).
True to form, the race was as tough as any skyrunning event – staged in the beautifully rugged alpine mountains above the town of La Massana in northwest Andorra, the 15km route had 1,415m of elevation gain, taking runners up to its highest point at Pic de les Fonts (2,748m).
Preen’s 4th position in 2:26:26 placed her just 10 minutes after category winner Spanish Irati Zubizaretta (2:16:17), and over eight minutes ahead of the fifth placed runner, who was from Japan.
Preen says the race had a very fast start, with the first 1.5km on tar before the brutal 1,400m climb to the highest point. The course was a good mix of super-technical single track and jeep track, with some tar sections.
“My race started off badly and ended well,” says Preen.
“I struggled on the first half of the climb, but then got stronger and started passing other runners. The technical descents were good for me – I made up a lot of time on the girls in front, and increased the gap on those behind. I think if the course had been a bit longer with one more climb, I could’ve maybe caught a few more! But I’m really happy with how the race turned out.”
Next up for Preen will be the World Cross Triathlon Championships (part of the ITU Multisport World Championships) in Penticton, Canada at the end of August.
Full results at: http://skyracecomapedrosa.com/en/2017/skyrace-comapedrosa-92/results
Featured photo: Hayley Preen training in the alps prior to the race > Angre Gie