While the likes of Eliud Kipchoge and Brigid Kosgei ran the flat streets of London on Sunday, there was a much shorter and much more treacherous race being held in Kitzbühel, Austria, at the same time. Athletes attacked the 350m course of the inov-8 Descent Race on the Streif on Kitzbühel’s Hahnenkamm mountain — the world’s “most notorious ski slope.” This was the third running of the Descent Race, and it was contested by a number of runners from across Europe, including 82-year-old Hubert Zohrer of Austria. While Zohrer provided one of the day’s best stories, he was understandably not among the top athletes, whose racing made for exciting and quick descents.
How the race worked
The 82-year-old Zohrer only ran one lap, completing the descent in 2:15. “It was very steep but great fun,” he said after the race. Zohrer’s time is impressive enough, but the winners were ruthless in their descents. The men’s winner was Rene Claussnitzer of Germany, who posted a ridiculously-quick opening run of 53.88 seconds. He fell in his second run down, and despite injuring his leg, he managed to get back on his feet and cross the finish line in 57.11. Claussnitzer’s stumble bumped his overall time to 1:50.99, opening the door for Austria’s Michele Roth to steal the win. It was a tight finish, but Claussnitzer’s 53-second run to kick the day off was the difference-maker, and he won by 0.40 seconds. Roth finished in second, five seconds ahead of third place.
The women’s race was much more spread out, and Austrian athlete Lisa Kröll won by 45 seconds. Kröll’s experience in the event (she won it in 2018 and placed second last year) helped her power downhill confidently, and she won with a final time of 2:44.86.