Trail ringers dominate but Douglas on the brink of mountain glory
Halkirk mountain runner, Andrew Douglas, is one step away from the World title despite trail-running ringers denying him victory in Switzerland.
Douglas crossed the line in sixth place at the Sierre-Zenal course in a time of 2hr 34min 56secs in the fifth round of seven of the World Cup series.
However, this particular race doubled up with the Golden Trail series that meant Douglas, in a one off event, would be up against Trail runners on a course more suited for them.
Therefore, some unfamiliar names – as far as mountain running fans are concerned – popped up on the start line and not surprisingly, the Trail guys dominated.
Spain's Kilian Jornet was first in a time of 2hr 25min 35secs with Eritrea's Petro Mamu in second [2hr 26min 31secs] and Jim Walmsley of the USA [2hr 31min 52secs] in third.
Neither of the top trio had run in the previous four World Cup races.
While sixth place on the surface doesn't appear to be a good result, it is when Douglas' main title rivals – Italian brothers Martin and Bernard Dematteis – were, despite finishing the course, unable to register a point.
Only a brace of victories in the final two races for Martin Dematteis – combined with Douglas not scoring any more points – will see the Halkirk man denied the title.
He said: "It looks like I'm very close to achieving my main aim but I'm taking nothing for granted until I'm officially declared as champion.
"I only came sixth last weekend but those seventy points that I got – combined with Martin and Bernard not getting any – has given me a lead of 215 points. I can still be caught of course but it's a good position to be in going into the last two races.
You can crumble if you get it wrong
"The race at Sierre was unusual for us mountain runners in that it was combined with the Golden Trail series. Effectively it would be like to top Formula One cars and their drivers on the grid for a Formula Two race.
"We did have some quality Trail runners on a course suited for them but you always want to challenge yourself and it was great to compete against them and get a good placing in a race that was more a Trail run than a mountain one.
"There was a mountain element to the run – don't get me wrong on that – but that came at the start when we had an 8km ascent to get to 1500 metres above the ground.
"After that, the Trail runners came into their own as the rest of the course was full of trails. Having to find the strength in your legs – on a very hot day as well – was hard going.
"In a race like that, your timing of when to take in fluids is crucial. Thankfully I found the right balance that allowed me to finish but you can crumble if you get it wrong.
"Racing against Trail runners was difficult – I've never been in race that has been fiercely competitive with such strength in depth regarding the field.
"But I was happy to be in that type of situation. As a runner, you're always looking to push yourself and racing against the best that another running discipline has to offer was a great experience."