More than 5.000 people started the 35th edition of the Marcialonga, a 70km classic race that winds through the Italian mountains. The Marcialonga is Italy's World Loppett race, and one of the most famous. Just over three hours after leading the field of 5,000 out of the start, Anders Aukland (NOR) was all alone as he crossed the finish line in viale Mendini in Cavalese, in front of more than 10.000 people on a spring-like day. The 70 km track wound through the beautiful landscapes of Fiemme and Fassa Valleys, a huge crowd along the track (more than 20.000 people) cheering and clapping their hands for the competitors.
Anders Aukland, the pre-race favorite, confirmed his excellent shape and extended his lead in the FIS Marathon Cup. Aukland also won the World Cup edition of 2004 with a finish time just a few seconds faster than this year.
Wearing the red bib of the leader, Aukland took it easy at the start, keeping up with the leaders until the second half part of the race, where he speeded up and left the others behind. Basically, a 35km long breakaway which started right after Moena. The followers were unable to react and the gap grew with every kilometer. Joergen Aukland, Anders’s brother and winner of two Marcialongas, finished second with 2’48â€ back.
Jerry Ahrlin (SWE), winner of last year's event, ranked third with a +2’57â€, while another of the favorites, Oskar Svaerd (SWE), took fourth just in front of his teammate and World Cup skier Mathias Fredriksson.
Odd Bjoern Hjelmeset (NOR), one of the best World Cup athletes, who felt twice during the race, settled for a disappointing 19th. His teammate and Olympic Medalist, Frode Estil, finished 10th.
In the women's race, the ageless Hilde Pedersen (NOR) did not start and it turned out to be an all-Swedish race. Jenny Hansson celebrated the victory, while her teammates Elin Ek and Susanne Nystrom took second and third respectively.
Earlier this month Aukland and Hannson both won the JizerskÃ¡ 50 World Loppet race in the Czech Republic.
There were more than 3200 foreign competitors, including 1700 Norwegian athletes.
Josh Smullin was the top American finisher. Smullin crossed the line in an impressive 48th place, +21:40. Mary Hall finished 1801st as the first American woman. Overall, 15 American athletes completed the 70km race with two more in the 45km version.
Aukland crossing the line