Vertical Montserrat 2021: champions set to defend titles

Posted: May 20, 2021 in News
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Enrique Santamaria Martinez and Alba Xandri will return to the 2,180-step Montserrat Funicular in Collbató, Spain on Saturday 5th June to defend the titles they won at the event in 2019.

Santamaria Martinez, who also finished third in 2018, will face off against the returning course record holder and 2018 winner Joan Freixa Marcelo.

Enrique Santamaria Martinez sets off on his winning run in 2019

Freixa Marcelo won the Firefighter division at the 2019 event, completing the course in full safety gear. But this year the multi-athlete from Cardona will be back in the Open category, seeking to reclaim his crown.

He is one of only two athletes to have run the course in under 12 minutes, with his record standing at 11:38.

Runners will set off up the stairway at 90 second intervals, starting at 9am.

David Soler Sucarrats, who finished just eight seconds behind Santamaria Martinez in 2019, is also set to compete at Saturday’s event.

So too is veteran tower and mountain runner Ignacio Cardona Torres. He took second in the Masters category at the Spanish Trail Running Championship in April, so expect to see him put in a solid performance.

Freixa Marcelo will be the last man to set off in the Open division. Santamaria Martinez will start just ahead of him, guaranteeing a fantastic finish to the third edition of this stunning outdoor stair race.

Joan Freixa Marcelo winning Vertical Montserrat 2018

The race up the service stairs alongside the Montserrat Funicular was postponed twice in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The ongoing situation has reduced the field slightly, with fewer international runners in the line-up compared with 2019. French athlete Joris Jacquard is one of the familiar non-Spanish runners set to make an appearance.

In the women’s division, two-time winner Alba Xandri is back to try and make it three wins in a row.

Alba Xandri on her way to winning Vertical Monserrat in 2019

The impressive Spanish mountain runner and cyclist was a clear winner in 2019, finishing over 90 seconds ahead of Rosa Maria Nieto Zamora.

Her winning time of 14:17 is the course record.

Disappointingly, Zamora who was set to compete in 2020 is not on the list of runners set to take part in 2021.

Some familiar names to look out for are Cristina Bonacina (ITA), Laure Chardin (FRA) and Marta Cosp Morata (ESP), who won the Beetham Tower stair race in Manchester, England back in 2019.

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