The Golden Trail World Series (GTWS) recently released its 2021 schedule, and after holding just three events this year, all races are set to return in the coming season. Included on the 2021 GTWS schedule is the series Grand Final, which will be held in Patagonia, Argentina. One of the 2020 events was a new multi-day stage race organizers dubbed the Golden Trail Championship (GTC), and it was such a huge success that it will also be included in future seasons, alternating years with the Grand Final. The 2021 GTWS calendar is set to start in June at the Zegama-Aizkorri trail marathon in Spain, and it will end with its finale event in Patagonia in November.
The 2020 GTWS calendar consisted of three events: Sierre-Zinal, the Pikes Peak Marathon and the GTC. Sierre-Zinal is a popular race in the Swiss Alps, and 2020 marked the 47th edition of the 31K event. This year’s running was a bit different, though, as a few changes were implemented due to COVID-19. Firstly, the elite race was cancelled. For the mass participation event, organizers gave participants a month-long window to complete the race. This was not a wholly virtual event, as athletes still had to complete the run on the traditional Sierre-Zinal course, but individuals tracked their runs and submitted their results to race officials to be ranked.
The Pikes Peak Marathon, held in Manitou Springs, Colo., is a 42K race that features more than 2,300m of elevation gain. Despite the pandemic, this year’s event (which had COVID-19 guidelines in place) featured close to 700 athletes, most of whom were from the U.S. Colorado residents Seth DeMoor and Brittany Charboneau took the wins in 3:36:31 and 4:25:21, respectively.
Finally, the biggest race on the 2020 GTWS calendar was the GTC, which was held in Portugal. Series officials created the GTC to give its usual lineup of elite contenders the chance to race. The event featured four stages, and Poland’s Bart Przedwojewski and Switzerland’s Maude Mathys won the GTC men’s and women’s crowns.
Looking toward a new season
The 2021 GTWS season opens in June, with six races running throughout the summer and fall, all leading up to the Grand Final on November 6. The top 11 male and female runners from the GTWS will win trips to the Grand Final. To earn these spots, runners must compete in at least three of the six qualifying races throughout the season, with the athletes who accumulate the most points in these events getting invites to the final. Any athletes who aren’t invited to the Grand Final are still allowed to race, but they will have to pay their own way. The Grand Final awards double the points, which could drastically change the final GTWS rankings.
Golden Trail Championship
In 2021, the GTWS will lead up to the Grand Final, but in 2022, the GTC will make its return. Moving forward, the Grand Final and GTC will continue to alternate each year. Unlike the Grand Final, the GTC will continue as a multi-day stage race, and it will invite the best athletes from the GTWS to compete for the championship. It will also be independent from the GTWS (although athletes can still win Golden Tickets to the GTC in other series events), meaning athletes can compete in as many or as few of the series events as they like in preparation for the year-end event. For 2021, though, each GTWS matters for these elite athletes. Next year’s race lineup is listed below.
June 6 — Zegama-Aizkorri (Spain)
June 27 — Mont-Blanc Marathon (France)
July 18 — Dolomyths Run (Italy)
August 7 — Sierre-Zinal (Switzerland)
August 22 — Pikes Peak Marathon (U.S.)
September 18 — Ring of Steall (Scotland)
November 6 — Grand Final (Argentina)