Muthoni Njeru and Kipngeno Full Broken Arrow Double | Report

Kenya’s Joyce Muthoni Njeru and Patrick Kipngeno followed up their VK wins on Friday to complete the Broken Arrow double at Palisades Tahoe, California with a Skyrace win on Sunday (23).

The 23 km Broken Arrow Skyrace is the first gold label long race of this year’s Valsir Mountain Running World Cup, featuring many highlights of the region including KT-22 and the iconic Washeshu Peak.

The race takes place on a circuit with 1533m of elevation gain, starting in the village of Palisades Tahoe and most of the events taking place above the treeline on technical and demanding trails.

After last year’s snow-affected race, where the course was changed to two laps, this year’s Palisades Tahoe couldn’t have offered better weather. Warm conditions, blue skies and a mostly snow-free course awaited the runners.

As he did in Friday’s VK, Muthoni Nehru led the race. She reached the first time point — Snow King, 4.6 miles — in 40:23, nearly two minutes behind second-place woman Tabor Hemming. Last year’s winner Allie McLaughlin was another minute behind, followed by Jade Bellsberg and Daniela Moreno.

Little has changed at the next time point at 7.8 miles. Muthoni extended his lead over Njeru Heming to over three minutes, and Heming maintained his one-minute buffer over McLaughlin. Belsberg was 30 seconds behind and Moreno, while maintaining fifth place, lost touch with Belsberg little by little.

It was not surprising to see Muthoni Njeru with his lead at the high camp (10.5 miles). She increased that slightly to two-and-a-half minutes, but Hemming was in contention and the race for third was very much on. Bellsberg overtook McLaughlin in this segment and arrived at the timing point 38 seconds ahead of him. Moreno was three minutes behind at this stage, so it looked like the second two podium points would come from Hemming, Belsberg and McLaughlin, and it still had to be fought for.

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The final downhill section was an exciting one for the women. Muthoni Njeru held on to win in 2:11:52, but it was close in the end, with Belsberg breaking away from third to finish second in 2:12:29 ahead of Hemming. Hemming was third and finished in 2:13:31, with McLaughlin fourth in 2:14:53 and Moreno fifth in 2:17:04.

Women’s VK winner Muthoni Njeru crashed out early in the Skyrace, as did Men’s VK winner Kipngeno. He hit the first timing point in 32:49, a minute ahead of last year’s men’s winner, Eli Hemming. Philemon Ombogo Kiriago finished third, 30 seconds behind him, with Taylor Stock and Meikael Beaudoin-Rousseau third in VK on Friday.

Behind them were Hawk Call, Christian Allen, Rémy Leroux and Darren Thomas.

Patrick Kipngeno wins the Broken Arrow Skyrace (© Scott Rogis)

At the next timing point, Kibnjeno extended his lead to less than two minutes over Hemming. Ombogo Kiriago was 90 seconds behind him, followed by Stock and Beaudoin-Rousseau.

There was little change in the men’s top 10, but notably previous World Cup winner Andrew Douglas moved up to 11th.

At the 10.5-mile mark in High Camp, Kipnjeno’s two-minute lead held steady. He’s still expected to be able to do doubles, but it’s not out of the question that Hemming can reel him in. In the third battle Ompago Kiriakou, Stagg and Pitudoin-Rousseau are still in conflict. Again, the men’s top 10 remained the same at this point, but Douglas had now moved up to ninth.

Hemming chased Kipnjeno hard on the last downhill section, and he dropped back for a while, but Kipnjeno took the win in 1:45:37. Hemming finished second in 1:47:00 and Omboko Kiriago third in 1:50:23 to complete the men’s podium. Stock was fourth in 1:51:12 and Beaudoin-Rousseau was fifth in 1:52:16.

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The next race of this year’s Walsir Mountain Running World Cup is the first classic race of the series in Grossklagner, Austria on July 7.

Kirsty Reid for World Athletics (WMRA).

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