5 intense days, 113km with 6,050m of vertical elevation split into 1 prologue and 4 stages. Competition within the competition, as each stage is also racing for: Best Climber, Best Downhiller, Best Sprinter and Best Overall. 174 runners from 32 different countries: this is The Golden Trail Championship 2020.
FAIAL, AZORES ISLANDS, 28th October 2:00 pm
The Prologue – Fast and Furious – 3.4km loop, 116m vertical elevation, 109m descent
Start /Finish line: Fábrica da Baleia
On this stunning island in the Azores archipelago, in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, the weather can be as wild and unpredictable as the outcome of this unique Golden Trail Championship 4-day stage race. Today, at 2:00 pm, Azores time, with Pico Island as the view from the starting ramp 174 runners set off one-at-a-time, every 30 seconds, onto the 3.5km prologue loop to define the waves for tomorrow’s first stage and also define the climb, downhill, sprint and overall leaders’ bibs.
Only the 47 first runners will be in the first wave along with the three winners of each segment (sprint, climb and downhill). This will be followed by a 100% female wave using the same principle. Even if this little prologue taster doesn’t count to the final week’s ranking, the best athletes in the world nevertheless fought it out in style. Each with a personal force or aim. The results gave several surprises, one was Swiss Joey Hadorn (Team Salomon) who took first place in front of the Moroccan Elhousine Elazzaoui (Team Salomon) and the Swiss Rémi Bonnet (Team Salomon).
The women’s line-up found the eagerly awaited Swiss Maude Mathys (Team Salomon) six seconds ahead of the American Rachel Drake (Nike Trail). The world champion Blandine L’Hirondel completes the podium.
The segments that decide the strategies
The French Iris Pessey (Team Scott) flew up the climb describing it, ” I wanted to concentrate on the climbs, and that’s what I did. I’ll keep to this strategy on all the next stages. I know I will have to battle to defend the bib!”.
In the men’s a Frenchman Arnaud Bonin (Team Scott) also moved ahead of the Swiss Rémi Bonnet (Team Salomon) pipping him by two seconds to the top place, “I didn’t really have a plan before the start, and I still don’t. I don’t think I’ll be trying to defend the red bib, climbing isn’t my goal, I prefer to do well in the overall ranking. I think it’s impossible to play for several segments. I’ll take each stage as it comes, and we’ll see.”
The downhill surprised everyone with the Slovenian Ana Cufer (Team Salomon) smoking the trail to be first woman and an incredible 5th overall in the downhill – watch out guys! “I only started training with a coach this year for competitions. So, I was the most surprised to finish first in the downhill. My background is in downhill MTB, which explains a little why! I tried to go as fast as possible in the downhill and then saw Greg Vollet who was following me filming, so I tried to accelerate even more. I’m pleased it paid off!”.
The Norwegian Anders Kjaerevik (Team Bergen Running) was the men’s fastest downhiller, “I usually do uphill training, but I realise I am much better in the downhill. What interested me most was being able to measure myself against the world’s top athletes, but I promised my coach I would take it easy. I can run faster downhill for sure!”
On the sprint the surprise came from the American Kimber Mattox (Team Brooks) who was the fastest, “it was definitely not my plan, I kinda thought it’d be fun to run fast across the beach!”
The Frenchman Théo Détienne (Team Salomon) gave all out and won the segment practically 10 seconds in front of Jim Walmsley (Team Hoka One One). “Right from the start I wanted to play for both the downhill and the sprint, I trained especially for that. I’m really happy it worked for the sprint today, which means I start in the first wave, even if I’m not playing for the overall ranking. The downhill was too short this time, but from tomorrow it’ll be a different story!”.
Several unfortunate absentees…
Out of all the athletes here in the Azores, there were 17 that couldn’t take the start line, due to a necessary wait for Covid test results. Amongst them is notably the eagerly awaited Swedish Tove Alexandersson (Icebug) , and the Italian Francesco Puppi (Nike Trail). These elite athletes will therefore start at the end of the men and women’s first waves respectively .
Let’s see what Day 1 of the stage race will reveal – time to unleash the stamina, strategy and smiles!
1 – JOEY HADORN (CH) TEAM SALOMON SWITZERLAND: 00:13:56.813 (yellow bib)
2 – ELHOUSINE ELAZZAOUI (MA) TEAM SALOMON: 00:14:41.567
3 – RÉMI BONNET (CH) TEAM SALOMON: 00:14:44.320
4 – BART PRZEDWOJEWSKI (Pl) TEAM SALOMON: 00:14:51.000
5 – JIM WALMSLEY (USA) TEAM HOKA ONE ONE: 00:14:53.823
1 – MAUDE MATHYS (CH) TEAM SALOMON: 00:17:05.067 (yellow bib)
2- RACHEL DRAKE (USA) TEAM NIKE: 00:17:11.700
3 – BLANDINE L´HIRONDEL (FR): 00:17:18.807
4 – ANAÏS SABRIÉ (FR) TEAM MATRYX TRAIL RUNNING: 00:17:53.420
5 – MARCELA VASINOVA (CZ) TEAM DYNAFIT: 00:18:16.677
1 – ARNAUD BONIN (FR) TEAM SCOTT: 00:01:36.670 (red bib)
2 – RÉMI BONNET (CH) TEAM SALOMON: 00:01:38.373
3 – JOEY HADORN (CH) TEAM SALOMON SWITZERLAND: 00:01:39.013
4 – PASCAL BUCHS (CH) TEAM SCOTT: 00:01:39.840
5 – ELHOUSINE ELAZZAOUI (MAR) TEAM SALOMON: 00:01:41.673
1 – IRIS PESSEY (FR) TEAM SCOTT SPORTS: 00:01:55.990 (red bib)
2 – RACHEL DRAKE (USA) TEAM NIKE: 00:01:59.890
3 – KIMBER MATTOX (USA) TEAM BROOKS OFFROAD RUNNERS: 00:02:00.130
4 – BLANDINE L´HIRONDEL (FR): 00:02:00.157
5 – BAILEY KOWALCZYK (USA) TEAM SALOMON: 00:02:02.036
1 – ANDERS KJÆREVIK (NOR): 00:00:34.257 (blue bib)
2 – ROBERT RORICH (RSA): 00:00:36.296
3 – ELHOUSINE ELAZZAOUI (MAR) TEAM SALOMON: 00:00:36.480
4 – PASCAL BUCHS (CH) TEAM SCOTT: 00:00:38.473
5 – DARIO MOITOSO (PT) AZORES TRAIL RUN PRO TEAM: 00:00:38.907
1 – ANA CUFER (SLO): 00:00:38.696 (blue bib)
2 – MAUDE MATHYS (CH) TEAM SALOMON: 00:00:47.016
3 – MARCELA VASINOVA (CZ) TEAM DYNAFIT: 00:00:48.883
4 – MYRIAM GUILLOT-BOISSET (FR) TEAM RAW ADVENTURE: 00:00:49.730
5 – RACHEL DRAKE (USA) TEAM NIKE: 00:00:50.514
1 – THÉO DETIENNE (FR) TEAM SALOMON FRANCE: 00:00:39.740 (green bib)
2 – JIM WALMSLEY (USA) TEAM HOKA ONE ONE: 00:00:49.504
3 – ANTHONY BOUCARD (FR): 00:00:50.374
4 – PASCAL BUCHS (CH) TEAM SCOTT: 00:00:51.346
5 – ALEIX GUIX (SP) TEAM SALOMON SPAIN: 00:00:51.894
1 – KIMBER MATTOX (USA) TEAM BROOKS OFFROAD RUNNERS: 00:00:55.410 (green bib)
2 – MAUDE MATHYS (CH) TEAM SALOMON: 00:00:56.000
3 – ANNIE SÖNNERBORG-WADENHORN (SWE) : 00:01:01.366
4 – BLANDINE L´HIRONDEL (FR) : 00:01:01.600
5 – JOHANNA ÅSTRÖM (SWE) TEAM ARC TERYX: 00:01:03.133
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