GOLDEN TRAIL WORLD SERIES 2019: KILIAN JORNET LEADS THE STARTING LINE AT PIKES PEAK MARATHON
The fifth race of the 2019 Golden Trail World Series is perhaps the most famed trail race on American soil, and this year the Pikes Peak Mountain Marathon will play host to the elite athletes of the sport. Spain’s Kilian Jornet (Team Salomon) leads an all-star cast from around the globe that will take to the starting line on Sunday morning, August 25th. The 42km race is the highest in altitude on the Golden Trail World Series. It begins and ends in Manitou Springs, Colorado and climbs 2,382 meters to an elevation of 4,302 meters—the top of the famed Pikes Peak. It’s also a race with a seemingly unbreakable course record. The men’s record time of 3:16:39 has stood since 1991.
Let’s find below how the leaders arrived the summit last year…
GOLDEN TRAIL WORLD SERIES 2019: PIKES PEAK MARATHON (42k/D+2386m)
The Pikes Peak Marathon is a race that goes through the Rocky Mountains, in Colorado, since 1956. The route links the village of Manitou Springs with the top of “The Mountain of America” along a vertiginous path that barely traces 21km from 2,000m to 4,302m from a summit tremendously exposed to the elements. The current records for the Marathon are 3:16:39 by Matt Carpenter in 1993 and Megan Kimmel with in 2018. Since 1966, the event takes place every year at the end of August.
Kilian Jornet is coming this year and will try to beat the current record, with Jornet on hand, as well as a deep field of elite runners in the women’s race, what is “unbreakable” may be called into question this weekend. The Spaniard is coming off a legendary performance two weeks ago at the ultra-competitive Sierre-Zinal race in Switzerland, where he shattered the 16-year-old course record by three minutes and 37 seconds and left behind a field of elite athletes from a variety of running disciplines. Pikes Peak, however, is a different animal.
“Pikes Peak Marathon is one of the oldest mountain races,” said Jornet, ever a student of the sport. “The Ascent race dates from 1936 and the marathon from 1956. It was the third marathon in the US and the first one to allow women to participate. The race is very logical. Run up to the summit and down, and the history behind it is what attracted me to run there.”
The 2018 men’s race winner, Colorado native Dakota Jones (Team Salomon), will miss this year’s race due to injury, but a host of top talent will be there to throw their best effort at Jornet, who comes in as the clear favorite.
Swiss star Rémi Bonnet (Team Salomon), who had strong races at Sierre-Zinal and the Marathon du Mont Blanc, will bring his considerable climbing skills to Pikes Peak. Two of Team Hoka’s top runners—Italy’s Francesco Puppi and Colorado resident Sage Canaday—will also look to crack the podium, and Mexico’s Juan Carlos Fererra (Team Buff) could also be heard from. France’s Thibaut Baronian (Team Salomon), who was 3rd at Zegama, will also be in the hunt. Swiss athlete Marc Lauenstein (Team Salomon), a former winner at Pikes, is making a comeback from a foot injury and says he is full-go this weekend, while American trail veteran Max King (Team Salomon) will relish the rare chance to run on home soil against top European talent. Peruvian Jose Manuel Quispe (Team Lippi), who was the 2nd runner to the top of the climb at the Dolomyth Runs in July, will also be looking for top result at Pikes.
“When I ran here in 2012, I remember it was a fun race and it was great to feel the ambiance,” Jornet added. “It is a very runnable race, but it’s hard. The ascent is not big and isn’t steep either, but the altitude is a huge factor. Probably the key to being successful in the race is to be well acclimatized and to not start to strong because after that the altitude really hits you.”
Last year, Salomon athlete and Colorado resident Megan Kimmel (Team Salomon) relied on her high altitude conditioning to break the women’s course record, winning in 4:15:04 to better the mark that had stood since 1981 by 14 seconds. Kimmel will not compete in this year’s race, but a top group of women will see if they can handle the altitude of Pikes and possibly challenge her record time. Maude Mathys (Team Salomon) is coming off a course record-breaking win on her home soil at Sierre-Zinal and her skills as a climber should send her to the front in the early going, and maybe to stay. Mathys was 3rd at the Dolomyths Sky run in Italy as well.
She will be challenged by a pair of Adidas TERREX runners in Great Britain’s Holy Page and Norway’s Yngvild Kasperson. Team Salomon athletes Eli Gordon (Spain) and Megan Mackenzie (South Africa) should also be in the chase for podium results, as will France’s Amandine Ferrato (Team Hoka One One).
GOLDEN TRAIL WORLD SERIES: SCHEDULE IN 2019
The season will start in Zegama with its authentic Basque fever, where the conditions are often tough but the atmosphere and excitement of the spectators almost lets runners forget the weather conditions. Kilian Jornet, Spain’s favorite son, will return this year after missing last season’s race while recovering from injury. Stian Angermund-Vik, Rémi Bonnet, Davide Magnini, Oriol Cardona, Pascal Egli and many more will try to ruin his plans. On the women side, Ida Nilsson will also be back after her 2018 win, but Ruth Croft, Megan Kimmel, Holly Page, Sheila Aviles and others will be there to challenge for the top spots.
From Zegama’s 42km jaunt up and down the Basque Country’s muddy and technical terrain, the series shifts to the French Alps for the Marathon du Mt Blanc, which is often contested under a warm sun. The early part of the race is often run at a fast pace before the course becomes more of a roller coaster and finishes with a brutal climb, meaning that the physical qualities required to perform in Zegama and Chamonix are quite different. With the level of competition expected to step to the line in Chamonix in 2019, the race will likely be run in a pack, which could create new strategies that were not seen beneath the Mont Blanc in previous years.
At 21km, the Dolomith’s Run in Italy is next, and it is the shortest race of the series. It is where the younger generation of runners will have the best opportunity to compete against more experienced competitors in the couloir of hell. Expect the top-10 finishers to be close together until the very end.
Next up is Sierre-Zinal in Switzerland, a classic fast & furious race that delivers the tightest battles of the season year-after-year. Athletes come from road running, mountain running and track and field to compete over fast terrain. The course is relatively flat after beginning with an epic climb from Sierre, and the crowd waiting at the finish in Zinal is boisterous and rowdy.
Two weeks later, the athletes will move to the high altitude of Colorado for the Pikes Peak Marathon. Climbing and descending is the order of the day, with the course reaching to 4,300 meters. In the men’s race, the question (as always) will be whether anyone touch the impossible record of Matt Carpenter? In 2018, Megan Kimmel bested the women’s record that was set in 1981. With 21km of climbing at a 12 percent grade before the furious 21km downhill back to town, Pikes Peak requires a different kind of strength in the thin air of the Rocky Mountains. This year, the race will be held on the weekend of August 24-25, one week later than normal, making it easier for athletes to race at Sierre-Zinal and Pikes Peak, which were held only six days apart in previous years.
From Colorado, it’s back across the pond to the Scottish Highlands for a case of Scottish vertigo. The Ring of Steall, the final race of the series, will offer runners their last chance to qualify for the Grand Final. Athletes will scramble over technical ridges, run through chilly rivers and negotiate slippery peat passages in predictably unpredictable Scottish weather.
Finally, the top-10 men and women after the first six races will travel together to the Grand Final, being staged this year at top of the world. The Annapurna Trail Marathon in Nepal will offer trail running’s elite an opportunity to gather together in trail running paradise, albeit at high altitude, in what is sure to be a competitive final race to close out the calendar and crown the Golden Trail World Series champions.
Elite runners must participate in three of the six races during the series in order to be eligible for the Grand Final. The top-10 men and women with the most points in their three best races will earn a trip for themselves and a person of their choice to the Grand Final in Nepal. The overall final standings (and the men’s and women’s champions) of the Golden Trail World Series will be determined again by the runners’ three best finishes during the season, plus their result at the Grand Final.
GOLDEN TRAIL WORLD SERIES: PHOTO GALLERY 2018