On home territory, Spain takes the podiums!

The twisting trail, climbing and descending, with unexpected surprises at many a turn, the testing weather conditions and a boundless enthusiasm and determination – return to the highlights of the 2018 World Trail Championships, held in the Castellón de La Plana region of Spain from 10 to 13 May 2018.

Background: a region rich in history

The 2018 World Trail Championships provided an opportunity to discover the rich heritage and the hidden secrets of the province of Castellón. At the opening ceremony, the 49 delegations - each following their flagbearer - processed through the meandering streets in the center of the ancient city of Castellón de La Plana.  The organizers of the Penyagolosa Trails showed off the history of the city and the surrounding trails to advantage, formerly used by monks on pilgrimage to the sanctuary of San Juan Bautista. For the runners, it was a pleasure to tread paths with such a rich past.

A technical course and difficult weather conditions

Under the blazing sun, the stony trails did not make life easy for the athletes. The world championship course followed tortuous, rocky paths. Technical descents demanded skill and vigilance on the part of the runners. The sun and the Iberian heat were soon part of the race. In view of these conditions, for the athletes it was important to guard against fatigue and good use was made of the refreshment stops. The Penyagolosa Trails volunteers were well organized and worked with the runners to ensure that they wanted for nothing and had access to plenty of water. The supporters, who came in their droves to the refreshment points, also gave loud voice in support to their favorites.  

For the athletes…

For both men and women, the runners set off at a fast pace over the Castilian trails, swept onward by the intensity of the moment. Neither the heat nor the technical nature of the terrain could dampen their resolve. At the head of the race, as well as at the rear, every runner was eager to improve on previous performances and to overcome the difficulties of the course and the challenging weather conditions.

For the men, the decisive moment of the race came at km 62 when Luis Alberto Hernando (ITRA PI 911) caught up with Zach Miller (USA, ITRA IP 906) at a refreshment stop. The last survivor of a leading group that had started very fast, the USA runner had remained at the front. The two runners left the refreshment stop together but the pace set by the Spanish runner was too much for Miller, who fell back a few kilometers later and finally finished in eight place. A little further back, positions were hotly disputed as the athletes fought to catch the leader, soon to be triple World Champion.  His fellow countryman, Cristofer Clemente (ITRA PI 885), who had started more cautiously and was twenty-seventh at the half-way point, began to gain on his opponents. The second part of the race, which was very demanding with considerable changes in altitude, was to his advantage. Passing the other runners one by one, Clemente finished second, with the best overall time from 47 km to the finish. Thomas Evans (UK, ITRA PI 863) refused to relinquish third place, where he remained throughout the entire race. The second British runner, Jonathan Albon (ITRA PI 911), more accustomed to cross-country events, finished in fourth place, at the foot of the podium. In a final spurt, Ludovic Pommeret (FR, ITRA PI 883) succeeded in overtaking Mario Mendoza (USA, ITRA PI 886), the two athletes having run the second part of the race together. They finished fifth and sixth, respectively.


In the women's race, the standard of the competition was high and the pace of the leaders unrelenting.  Ragna Debats (NL, ITRA PI 773) managed to remain in first position throughout the day. Behind her, the home team from Spain, supported by an enthusiastic audience, were undaunted by the difficulties of the course and the sweltering heat. Local runner Laia Cañes (ITRA PI 750), worked her way through the field, overtaking the other runners one by one. At km 62 she took second place in the women's race and was to keep this place all the way to the finish. Hot on their tail, the rest of the Spanish team Gemma Arena (ITRA PI 754) and Maite Mayora (ITRA PI 775)) finished just behind, in fourth and fifth places. The swell of yellow and red brought added excitement to the women's race and left little room for the competition. The French runners, Adeline Roche (ITRA PI 761, world champion) and Amandine Ferrato (ITRA PI 761, vice champion) who had remained in the leading pack for much of the race, gradually lost ground. However, Claire Mougel (FR, ITRA PI 741), found her second wind at km 60 and at km 80 made her move, finally taking third place in the Championship. Third place on the podium for the women's team event was taken by the Americans; the first American home was Clare Gallagher (USA, ITRA PI 769) in eighth place, followed by Kaytlyn Gerbin (ITRA PI 713) in tenth place and Sabrina Little (USA, ITRA PI, 722) in eleventh place.

For the teams…

The number of delegations participating has grown considerably, increasing from 37 delegations with 291 runners in 2017, to 49 delegations with 354 athletes in 2018. Even if the level of the athletes remains very mixed, the overall standard at these championships was higher than in past years.  Twelve of the officially selected delegations - Bolivia, Bosnia Herzegovina, Chile, Ecuador, Guatemala, Hong Kong, Peru, Romania, Slovakia, South Africa, Taiwan and Venezuela - were taking part at the World Trail Championships for the first time.

Of these delegations, Peru was ranked ninth amongst the men's teams, followed by Romania in twelfth place.  The highest ranked amongst the women was Ecuador, in nineteenth place.


At the top of the team rankings were countries regularly represented on the podium. Spain, on home territory, was at the top of the podium in both the women's and the men's events. The French and the USA women's teams were also on the podium, coming second and third respectively. In the men's event, the UK team was second followed by the French team in third place.


The winning athletes and teams at the 2018 World Trail Championships athletes and teams were presented with their awards on Sunday, May 13 at a ceremony organized on Benicàssim beach. It was in this beautiful setting, surrounded by palm trees and with a view out to sea, that the delegations came together one last time before the 2018 World Trail Championships were declared officially closed.

Details of results


1st Spain : global time : 31:05:29
  • 1 - Laia CAÑES (2ème 10:11:11 - Cotation ITRA sur la course : 772)
  • 2 - Gemma ARENAS (4ème 10:25:58 -C. ITRA : 754)
  • 3 - Maite MAYORA (5ème 10:28:20 - C. ITRA : 751)
2nd France : global time : 31:37:33
  • 1- Claire MOUGEL (3ème 10:15:23 - C. ITRA : 767)
  • 2 - Adeline ROCHE (7ème 10:32:05 - C. ITRA : 747)
  • 3 - Amandine FERRATO (14ème 10:50:05 - C. ITRA : 726)
3rd United-States : global time : 32:01:44
  • 1 - Clare GALLAGHER (8ème 10:36:37 - C. ITRA : 741)
  • 2 - Kaytlyn GERBIN (10ème 10:39:40 - C. ITRA : 738)
  • 3 - Sabrina LITTLE (12ème 10:45:27 - C. ITRA : 731). 


1st Spain: global time: 26:45:08
  • 1 - Luis Alberto HERNANDO (1st 08:38:35 – ITRA Ranking on the race: 910)
  • 2 - Cristofer CLEMENTE (2nd 08:46:19 – R. ITRA : 897)
  • 3 - Pablo Manuel VILLA (13th 09:20:14 – R. ITRA : 843)
2nd Great Britain : global time: 27:09:06
  • 1 - Thomas EVANS (3rd 08:49:35 – R. ITRA : 891)
  • 2 - Jonathan ALBON (4th 08:53:41- R. ITRA : 884)
  • 3 - Ryan SMITH (16th 09:25:50 - R. ITRA : 834)
3rd France: global time: 27:44:52
  • 1- Ludovic POMMERET (5th 08:58:12 - R. ITRA : 877)
  • 2 - Romain MAILLARD (7th 09:10:18 - R. ITRA : 858)
  • 3 - Adrien MICHAUD (19th 09:36:22 - R. ITRA : 819)

Individual results:

Top 10 women:
  • 1 Ragna DEBATS (NL) :09:55:00 (ITRA Ranking on the race: 793)
  • 2 Laia CAÑES (SP) 10:11:11 (R.772)
  • 3 Claire MOUGEL (FR) 10:15:23 (R.767)
  • 4 Gemma ARENAS (SP) 10:25:58 (R. 754)
  • 5 Maite MAYORA (SP) 10:28:20 (R.751)
  • 6 Magdalena LACZAK (PL) 10:30:15 (R.749)
  • 7 Adeline ROCHE (FR) 10:32:05 (R. 747)
  • 8 Clare GALLAGHER (USA) 10:36:37 (R. 741)
  • 9 Holly PAGE (UK) 10:37:52 (R. 740)
  • 10 Kaytlyn GERBIN (USA) 10:39:40 (R.738)
Top 10 men:
  • 1 Luis Alberto HERNANDO (SP) 08:38:35 (ITRA Ranking on the race 910)
  • 2 Cristofer CLEMENTE (SP) 08:46:19 (R. 897)
  • 3 Thomas EVANS (UK) 08:49:35 (R. 891)
  • 4 Jonathan ALBON (UK) 08:53:41 (R. 884)
  • 5 Ludovic POMMERET (FR) 08:58:12 (R. 877)
  • 6 Mario MENDOZA (USA) 09:00:31 (R. 873)
  • 7 Romain MAILLARD (FR) 09:10:18 (R. 858)
  • 8 Zach MILLER (USA) 09:12:31 (R. 854)
  • 9 Jiri CIPA (CZE) 09:15:46 (R. 849)
  • 10 Janosch KOWALCZYK (GER) 09:16:10 (R.849) 
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