The original tracks of the Südtirol Sellaronda HERO over 62 km/3,300 m climb and 84 km/ 4,300 m climb are re-established thanks to the valuable assistance of the mayor of Selva/Wolkenstein, the municipality of Arabba, the forest ranger office, the many volunteers and the warm weather.
The announcement was made today by the organizers of the HERO in mutual agreement with Peter Mussner, the mayor of Selva/Wolkenstein. This means that the alternative tracks will no longer be used, including the 10 km on the paved road from Selva/Wolkenstein to the Gardena Pass as well as the section on the paved road from Arabba to the Pordoi Pass which were both chosen due to a landslide on Dantercëpies above Selva/Wolkenstein and the heavy snowfalls late in the season.
The HERO will thus take place on its original tracks, 87% of which is fire roads and single tracks, the rest paved roads. The marathon race has reached record participation with 3013 applications from 33 nations. This event is of particular importance as it constitutes the last race ahead of the World Championships. Another reason why the pool of participants is top class.
Ilias Periklis, the current World Champion from Greece is leading the charge followed immediately by the winner of the 2012 Marathon World Series from Germany, Steffen Thum, and the 2004 World Champion from Italy, Massimo Debertolis. These three top athletes will put up a good fight against the winners of the past three editions of this race: Klaus Fontana from South Tyrol (2010), Marko Celestino from Italy (2011) and Leonardo Paez from Colombia (2012). Jukka Vastaranta from Finland is multiple national champion in both cross-country and marathon and could provide for an upset along with the tripple Transalp winner Stefan Sahm from Germany and Jaime Yasid Chia Amay from Colombia. The Italian team including the marathon specialists Marzio Deho, Christian Cominelli, Tony Longo, Luca Ronchi and Juri Ragnoli will also be racing very hard as will Alexey Medvedev who is from Russia but lives in Italy and has made headlines in several long-distance races along with Inaki Nieto from Spain.
A clear favorite among the women is Sally Bigham. The 35-year-old British athlete is racing for the first time in the Sellaronda HERO. She captured gold in the 2012 World Series and won silver in the European Championships in Singen. Furthermore, she won three marathons this spring. The biggest challenger to Bigham is double HERO winner Katrin Schwing from Germany who won last week’s Marathon in Willingen and the Austrian Verena Krenslehner, who won silver in 2012. Attention should also be paid to the Italian long distance specialists Daniela Veronesi, Anna Ferrari, Lorenza Menapace and the inaugural winner of the Sellaronda HERO, Julia Innerhofer from South Tyrol.
The HERO is one of the toughest and most spectacular mountain bike marathons of the world. It has been entered into the UCI Marathon World Series, the World Cup of long-distance races, after only three editions.
“Only those who make it to the finish have the right to call themselves a HERO “ says Steffen Thum, winner of the 2012 Marathon World Series. “To finish and to be called a HERO is an enormous challenge also for us pros.”
Either way, there are a lot of skinny pro riders here, and thousands of enthusiasts already riding around in their Sella Ronda Hero jerseys. Tyres are being kicked at the Expo, new fluro accessories are being pondered, the cafe’s are bustling, and somehow, there is just enough parking for the thousands of people who have arrived into the Val Gardena.