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Luke Grenfell-Shaw wins Val d’Aran for his brother

Allison Baca (USA) and Luke Grenfell-Shaw (Great-Britain) have won the Hoka Val d’Aran CDH 110 kilometres (6.400m+) race, part of the UTMB World Series. Grenfell-Shaw dedicated his win in an emotional finish line speech to his brother John: “This day, the 5th of July, is the six year anniversary of my brother John’s death. He fell to his death in the Lake District. Also running, also doing something he loved. Today I ran for him. John, this is for you.”

Grenfell-Shaw dominated the race from the start at 6am in Les, until the finish in Vielha, where he stopped the clock at 12:05:03. “I love running hard”, he said in his finish line interview, after apologising to the crowd for not directly high fiving them. “But if I try, I will fall over, before I’ve reached you. I love running from the front. I didn’t know if I was going to explode before the end, but I rather race for the win and explode than finish well.”

Besides that, he had two more reasons to run as hard as he could. “John would have given everything to be still alive today. So no matter how much pain I had, I kept on running for him. It felt like the most perfect way to be close to him.”

Bristol to Beijing

The second reason is that Luke Grenfell-Shaw is a cancer survivor. Although that’s not how he wants to call it. He prefers to call it CanLivers; people living with the uncertainties of cancer, yet acknowledging that they can still live a rich and full life. “Six years ago I was diagnosed with cancer (a rare and aggressive sarcoma; jk). The doctors gave me a few months to live. But today, I’m here racing. And before I came here, I cycled from Bristol to Beijing, on a tandem bike to raise money for charities that support young people living with cancer. I cycled 32.000 kilometres and raised 132.000 pounds. The film of that adventure is almost finished. I would love it when you go and see it, when it comes out.”

RELATED: All eyes on Val d’Aran, UTMB’s European Major

Lopetegui Nieto surprises himself

Behind Grenfell-Shaw Andreu Simon Aymerich (Spain) finished second in 12:31:08. The third place was, in 12:41:51, for Goar Lopetegui Nieto (Spain), to his own surprise: “I took it easy in the first part of the course, to manage my energy. In the second half I pushed and here I am. On the podium. I didn’t expect that.”

The man who did hope to be on the podium, Sebastian Krogvig (Norway), just missed it. He finished fourth in 12:59:41. “I had to keep my pace lower than I would have liked to when we were high up. I’m not used to the altitude. Up until kilometre 75 I was in third place, but the heat got to me. The second half of the race, I just focussed on finishing. I drag my family all around Europe to race. I felt I really had to finish this race for them.”

Less than 50% finishes

Krogvig wasn’t the only one struggling with the heath, bad weather and altitude. From the 1.191 starters only 482 runners finished the CDH.

Among them Allison Baca, who won the women’s race at Hoka Val d’Aran CDH. The American ultra runner finished 11th overall in 14:44:51. Silvia Puigarnau (Spain) finished second in 15:29:15. Maite Maiora Elizondo (Spain) completed the podium. The Vibram Team athlete finished in 15:55:03.

The longest race on the program, the VDA, was cancelled due to adverse weather conditions.


All results Val d'Aran

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