Marco De Gasperi breaks Kilian Jornet's record at Mattherhorn Ultraks 46k

Marco De Gasperi used his excellent descent skills to set a time that was 34 seconds quicker than the race record of the great Kilian Jornet at the Mattherhorn Ultraks 46k yesterday.

The Italian was even running on a course that was one kilometre longer than that covered by Jornet in 2013.

Meanwhile, Netherlands' Ragna Debats arrived at the finish line in Zermatt, Switzerland, as first woman in the race, which - despite the name - was over 49k.

As if 46k and 3600m of ascent and descent were not enough, changes to the course made it longer than the original. The tough climbs were compensated by the amazing Alpine views beneath the iconic pyramidic Mattherhorn.

De Gaspari clocked 4 hours 42 minutes 51 seconds to come home in front of Spanish runner-up Eugeni Gil Ocana (4:45:15), with Switzerland's Martin Anthametten (4:48:59) third.

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Debats crossed the line with her daughter in her hands in 5:52:05, having had time to pick her up near the finish. The next woman was Spain's Lai Andreu Trias in 5:53:22 and third was Spain's Aviles Sheila (6:00:17).

De Gasperi was delighted to gain his first Migu Run Skyrunner World Series race victory. He said: “I’ve been second many times behind great champions like Kilian and other young guns that are now coming. It was a long race today. My feelings were not really my best as I expected but I had to manage this until the half part of the race because I knew that after that the race becomes very hard for everyone and in the last descent I managed a couple of minutes advantage I took.

“This gives me new motivation to go on. I’m 40 years old and it’s not really easy for old men to be on top.

“The course today was quite easy and runnable for everyone but the length of the course is key to the race - for people that are quite old and maybe can keep going til the end it’s quite important. Definitely I prefer when it’s more technical [than today]. But I like the Mattherhon course because the landscape you can see here is fantastic.”

Debats, who was horse trainer in England and Germany and didn’t start running until 2009, said: “At this time of the season I noticed that I am feeling tired a little bit. I started confidently but I noticed that I wasn’t feeling 100% but I still felt okay. So I just tried to run at a good pace to test the others.

“Towards the end of the race they were getting closer again I think so I was trying to be wrong mentally as well to keep up the pace then I noticed they weren’t getting any closer.”

The 46k offered bonus points in the 22-race Skyrunner series and was part of a two-day programme of races.

The 30k wins went to Switzerland's Stephan Wenk and New Zealand's Ruth Croft. The 16k event was won by Switzerland's Victoria Kreuzer and Portugal's Cesar Costa.

All abilities were catered for and also included were a 2.5km uphill-only race, relay and kids' race. However, with only around two thirds of starters in the longest race completing the course in under 10 hours, just finishing was a great achievement