GTC / The Azores Awarded their Champions

The Golden Trail Championship 2020 – Podiums

1st November – 5:00 pm – Faial Island, Azores


The best trail-running athletes in the world came together on this small Island of Faial in the Azores in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean to compete in this eagerly awaited 4-day stage race: The Golden Trail Championship, in collaboration with the Azores Trail Run® and supported by the Azores Tourist Office. Here, over the course of 4 consecutive days, the elite athletes were battered by Mother nature’s elements; winds, torrential rain, and fog that caressed the island smothering the runners in 100% humidity and eliminating the views. But that’s not all they had to contend with, these volcanic islands contain some of nature’s wildest terrain from abrasive black lava rock, to humid thick tropical forest, high exposed volcano peaks and steep switchback singles, and an endless supply of glorious thick mud. 

After the week of racing these 4 hard-fought stages, the Golden Trail Championship finally has its champions: Maude Mathys (Team Salomon) from Switzerland and Bart Przedwojewski (Team Salomon) from Poland.

So, it was a shower of champagne instead of rain that soaked the athletes as they gathered together outside yesterday for the final ceremony to receive the individual category awards and the top 10 men and women’s awards.

Bart Przedwojewski: The Warrior

By winning two out of the four stages, Bart Przedwojewski (Team Salomon) secured yellow bib in the overall ranking of this Golden Trail Championship. A warrior with an iron will, he took advantage of the specific training he did for this multi-stage format.  “I prepared myself specifically for this championship, I studied all race routes in detail and the different types of terrain that we were going to encounter, I was very sure of my strengths. I wanted to create a gap between the other runners, a gap that I then succeeded in keeping.”

Maude Mathys: The Supreme

For the women it was also by winning two stages that Maude Mathys (Team Salomon) built her final overall victory. She, like Bart, had to resist pressure from the orienteers earlier on in the week, and later from the American Rachel Drake (Team Nike Trail) on the final stage. But unlike Bart, Maude Mathys did not arrive on the island well prepared, “it was a really interesting format that I’d never done before, you really have to manage your nutrition, and recovery over four days, and it was maybe a little too long for me at the end. There was a full range of technical terrain, which was really great, even if I’m not a big fan of mud, especially 4 days non-stop, it’s not my strong point. With regards to my preparation, due to the health situation it wasn’t sure that the race would go ahead. So, I ended up not doing much training. Then 3 weeks before I thought, it looks like it’s going ahead I better train! I am really honoured to have been a part of this event and really happy with my result.”

The Mountain Specialists

Among the men and women’s climb red-bib winners there are two uphill specialists: Rémi Bonnet (Team Salomon) and Iris Pessey (Team Scott). “I came to play the overall ranking,” says Rémi Bonnet, “but I’m not good enough in the downhill, especially here they are really horrific! When I saw what was awaiting us I decided to give it a shot for the top 10 and all the uphill segments. But I think it would be a good idea to work on my downhill technique for upcoming years.”

Iris Pessey is a vertical kilometre specialist, but even more of a skier, and took advantage of an unusual season to prepare for the race. “I became coach for Australia’s National Ski Team 3-years ago, so I’ve just been going back and forth between Australia and France’s winter seasons, so I spend more time skiing than running. But this year enabled me to spend a real summer in France, so I made the most of it and I am thrilled that I finished it this way!”

“You just need to be stupid!”

Anders Kjærevik (Team Bergen Running) was the rollercoaster this week in the best downhill category. Untouchable in all the technical descents this week he reveals his magic recipe: “You just need to be stupid! It’s not complicated! You switch off your brain and run!” The Norwegian also explained that he didn’t win the third-stage downhill “because there was a tiny uphill bit, and I always lose a lot of time in the uphills.”

The women were left standing by the former downhill MTB racer, Ana Cufer (Team Salomon), who won the blue bib hands down. Completely beyond reach she nuked all the stages’ downhill segments including the prologue. “I don’t know if doing downhill MTB helped me for this challenge. Maybe. Even if it is different you still have to focus, and look far ahead for your trajectory, yes in that case it probably does help.”

A sprint to the finish!

The sprint unleashed some fire, Spain’s Gisela Carrion (Team La Sportiva) also claimed that it wasn’t in her initial plans. “I wanted to go for the overall ranking, but I got lost on the second stage route, so I released my anger in the sprint! When I realised I could actually win the green bib I decided to put my focus on that as my goal!”

The tussle of the week for the men was between Frenchman Théo Détienne (Team Salomon) and the Spaniard Andreu Blanes (Team Carnicas Serrano) and to spice things up a bit the two men decided to run the final segment together. In the end despite his defeat in this stage Détienne keeps the bib with a mere 6-second gap. “I came here specifically to play the sprints and maybe the downhills. When I saw the war-torn terrain on the downhills, I just focused on the sprints. In the end I only won one stage but the gap I generated enabled me to win the bib at the end. I am thrilled!”

“A real challenge”

This Golden Trail Championship would never have happened without the support and Azores Trail Run® organisation. The Golden Trail Series organisation wanted to sincerely thank Mario Leal, organiser of this Portuguese event. “It is incredible everything that Mario and the Azores Trail Run® has achieved,” enthused Greg Vollet, Co-director of the Golden Trail Series. “It is particularly incredible due to the current context” At the end of the race all the runners also emphasized how impressed they were with the quality of the organisation. Mario Leal also thanked them. “It was a real challenge for us to be able to welcome you, particularly due to the health crisis,” he explained during the awards ceremony, “all the trails were closed this year due to lockdown and it took a lot of hard work to get everything ready for the GTC in only a few short weeks. But I see your smiles, and I’m just really proud and very happy to have been able to welcome you here on this Island of Faial in the Azores!” 

It is very important to stress that the Azores Trail Run® organisation had taken all the necessary measures to preserve the health of the runners and the local population, with tests carried out on each individual before and after arrival on the island, both runners and non-runners, quarantining pending results, and strict health measures on and off the race routes.

Every other year?

Faced with the undeniable success of this first edition of the Golden Trail Championship, it’s natural to wonder what will happen in the future? Greg Vollet replies ” First we must wait and see how the health crisis evolves. We may need to adapt again next season. Maybe later, in view of the overwhelming positive response from the athletes we are definitely studying the options! Ideally, we would like to continue with the Golden Trail Series in its usual format: a circuit uniting the most beautiful races around the world. But we do envisage returning to the GTC format every other year, with a stage race, which would also enable the best world athletes to spend a week racing against each other!”

Over these four days a story was written, new physical and mental limits were reached, personal challenges were met, new friendships were formed, new combats were won, and another race was also won together – the race for solidarity. 

The GTC in Figures 

7 and 9: respectively in minutes, is the time that separates Bart Prezdwojewski (Team Salomon) from Jim Walmsley (Team Hoka One One), and Maude Mathys (Team Salomon) from Rachel Drake (Team Nike Trail).

115: kilometres the runners covered in this Golden Trail Championship

5172: accumulated elevation gain in metres from the 4 stages 

4: specific race-bib categories awarded on this GTC, and also the number of Championship’s stages.

100,000: total amount of prize money awarded to the top 10 athletes for the specific race-bib categories and winners of each classification at the end of all the stages. 

1043: highest point in metres on the course route, (they were initially supposed to discover Pico Island and Portugal’s highest summit (2351m), but inclement weather prevented made the extremely technical trail too dangerous). 

32: nationalities present at this GTC 2020.

3.4: length of the prologue in km that defined the first day’s starting waves. 

50: maximum number of runners authorised per starting wave. 


OVERALL RANKING (FULL RESULTS HERE)

Men

1 – BART PRZEDWOJEWSKI (PL) TEAM SALOMON: 09:10:10.653 (GT Champion)

2 – JIM WALMSLEY (USA) TEAM HOKA ONE ONE: 09:17:18.754 

3 – FREDERIC TRANCHAND (FR) TEAM Nvii SPORT: 09:26:32.603

4 – ELHOUSINE ELAZZAOUI (MAR) TEAM SALOMON: 09:28:46.571

5 – STIAN ANGERMUND (NOR) TEAM SALOMON: 09:29:05.443

Women

1 – MAUDE MATHYS (CH) TEAM SALOMON: 10:47:41.843 (GT Champion)

2 – RACHEL DRAKE (USA) TEAM NIKE TRAIL: 10:56:53.618

3 – BLANDINE L’HIRONDEL (FR): 11:02:42.441

4 – TOVE ALEXANDERSSON (SW) TEAM ICEBUG: 11:06:43.154

5 – JOHANNA ÅSTRÖM (SW) TEAM ARC’TERYX: 11:26:04.864


Climb Ranking

Men

1 – REMI BONNET (CH) TEAM SALOMON: 01:27:39.232  (GT Climber Champion)

2 – JIM WALMSLEY (USA) TEAM HOKA ONE ONE: 01:29:32.492

3 – BART PRZEDWOJEWSKI (PL) TEAM SALOMON: 01:30:59.793

4 – STIAN ANGERMUND (NOR) TEAM SALOMON: 01:33:41.844

5 – FRANCESCO PUPPI (IT) TEAM NIKE TRAIL: 01:33:48.001

Women

1 – MAUDE MATHYS (CH) TEAM SALOMON: 01:46:07.871

2 – IRIS PESSEY (FR) TEAM SCOTT: 01:48:50.569  (GT Climber Champion)

3 – RACHEL DRAKE (USA) TEAM NIKE TRAIL: 01:51:12.993

4 – BLANDINE L’HIRONDEL (FR): 01:54:01.820

5 – TOVE ALEXANDERSSON (SW) TEAM ICEBUG: 01:57:13.274


Downhill Ranking

Men

1 – ANDERS KJÆREVIK (NOR) TEAM BERGEN RUNNING:  00:21:56.66 (GT Downhiller Champion)

2 – JOHN LUNA-LIMA (USA) TEAM ASCENT PROTEIN: 00:24:06.855

3 – BART PRZEDWOJEWSKI (PL) TEAM SALOMON: 00:24:11.373

4 – ANTONIO MARTINEZ (ESP) BUFF PRO TEAM: 00:24:35.789

5 – FREDERIC TRANCHAND (FR) TEAM Nvii SPORT: 00:24:49.242

Women

1 – ANA CUFER (SLO) TEAM SALOMON:  00:25:35.506 (GT Downhiller Champion)

2 – TOVE ALEXANDERSSON (SW) TEAM ICEBUG: 00:26:37.138

3 – BLANDINE L’HIRONDEL (FRA): 00:29:08.000

4 – RACHEL DRAKE (USA) TEAM NIKE TRAIL: 00:29:36.993

4 – JOHANNA ÅSTRÖM (SW) TEAM ARC’TERYX: 00:29:50.474


Sprint Ranking

Men

1 – THEO DETIENNE (FR) TEAM SALOMON: 00:26:32.106 (GT Sprinter Champion)

2 – ANDREU BLANES REIG (SP) TEAM CARNICAS SERRANO: 00:26:38.274

3 – BART PRZEDWOJEWSKI (PL) TEAM SALOMON: 00:30:24.715

4 – ELHOUSINE ELAZZAOUI (MAR) TEAM SALOMON: 00:30:42.486

5 – FREDERIC TRANCHAND (FR) TEAM Nvii SPORT: 00:30:55.671

Women

1 – GISELA CARRION (SP) TEAM LA SPORTIVA: 00:34:13.371 (GT Sprinter Champion)

2 – MAUDE MATHYS (CH) TEAM SALOMON: 00:35:17.166

3 – BLANDINE L’HIRONDEL (FR): 00:35:24.293

4 – TOVE ALEXANDERSSON (SW) TEAM ICEBUG: 00:36:26.842

5 – RACHEL DRAKE (USA) TEAM NIKE TRAIL: 00:36:32.423


Photos of the event are available here

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