Add title Golden Trail Championship Stage 3 – no technical ascent due to weather conditions; faster track favours leaders This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is DSC_2732_60-1024×683.jpg Mount Pico beckoned briefly but the technical ascent was not to be as heavy weather closed in on Day Three of the Golden Trail Championship, October 31, 2020. Photo: Stephen Granger

Injuries, exhaustion and harsh weather were the watchwords on Day Three of the Golden Trail Championship on the Azores Island Group, as successive days of racing tough trails in challenging conditions started to take a heavy toll on trail athletes. However, Poland’s Bartlomiej Przedwojewski and Swiss star Maude Mathys seemed unaffected as they sped to victory – the second of the championship for each.

Several athletes withdrew prior to the start of the third leg – a testing 32,5km circuit returning to a caldera summit in extreme winds – while several more were uncertain starters for the final stage, on the Island of Faial on Sunday (November 1).

The rain, low cloud and strong winds forced the hands of the organisers who called off the planned ascent of the 2300 m Pico Mountain on the Island of Pico.  While undoubtedly a race highlight in good conditions, a mountain ascent in bad weather could have led to serious injuries. The last benign weather was on ‘prologue day’.

Polish athlete Bart Przedwojewski leads Norwegian Stian Angermund and Morocco”s Elhousine Elazzaoui. Photo: Stephen Granger

While many athletes were relieved at not having to force already-protesting limbs up an ascent twice as high as the Faial Caldera, the change favoured those athletes with lesser skills on technical climbs and descents. South Africa’s Meg Mackenzie, known for her high-altitude mountain prowess had been looking to Mt Pico to move her into a top ten position overall, which now looks unlikely.

Scandanavian title-contenders, Stian Angermund (Norway) and Tove Alexanderrson (Sweden), whose technical abilities would likely have seen them gain on rivals on Mt Pico, were other athletes disadvantaged through the change, but in the spirit of trail running there were no complaints and only praise for the organisers’ ability to affect a necessary change at short notice.

Morocco’s Elhousine Elazzaoui on his way to another top-3 finish on Day Three of the Golden Trail Championship in the Azores, October 31, 2020. Photo: Stephen Granger

Morocco’s Elhousine Elazzaoui enjoyed another great day of racing, to finish third behind American Jim Walmsley who found the fast second half to his liking, while Walmsely’s compatriot Rachel Drake ran an outstanding race to place second to Mathys in the women’s competition.

Angermund took an early lead along a technical single-track section along the coast for the first five kilometres, but Przedwojewski used the easier terrain in the second five to regain his now-accustomed position at the helm as the athletes left the shores and headed inland after 9 km.  Angermund and Elazzaoui resumed their close contest, which has been a feature of the Championship, running together in second a few strides behind the Pole.

Jim Walmsley of the USA emerges from the mist, October 31, 2020. Photo: Stephen Granger

Walmsley was trailing in sixth position at this stage, behind Day One winner, Frederic Tranchand, and Spain’s Oriol Cardonna, but started his move up the field along the more runnable sections at the start of the ascent to the Caldera.

Angermund and Elazzaoui summited behind Przedwojewski as the athletes again encountered strong winds, muddy terrain and severely reduced visibility, closely followed by Walmsley and Swiss athlete Remi Bonnet, who won honours for the best climber of the day.

“I knew if I reached the top first, then no one would catch me on the descent,” said a triumphant Przedwojewski. “I was confident of my downhill speed and I think I opened some further time advantage in the second-half.”

“Super-Pole” Bartlomiej Przedwojewski runs confidently on a boulder section of Stage Three at the Golden Trail Championship, October 31, 2020. Photo: Stephen Granger

And so it proved. Although Walmsley overtook ‘team Angermund and Elazzaoui’ on the descent from the Caldera, he could make no impression on his Polish rival and looks out of contention for overall honours tomorrow. “Bart’s not coming back,” Walmsley said ruefully. “The way he is running, there is no way I will be able to make up the gap. It’s been a good learning opportunity for me – the first time I’ve done this sort of racing.”

On the same day that Spanish athlete, Pere Aurell, took honours ahead of Johardt van Heerden in the Otter African Trail ‘Retto” Run, Przedwojewski recalled the scene of his greatest career victory. “I really loved the Otter Trail – it was undoubtedly my favourite race and I’d love to return their one day. As the final of the Golden Trail Series in 2018, I think it was my best race, although my first Zegama, when I placed third, and today’s race on Faial also rank very highly.”

A relaxed Maude Mathys warms up. Photo: Stephen Granger

Mathys has run a controlled championship, having held back just enough on the first two days to enable her to race to a convincing victory on the third and to overhaul Swede Tove Alexanderrson for the overall lead, taking a five minute cushion into day four.

Rachel Drake of the USA impresses with a superb second place. Photo: Stephen Granger

“My legs were pretty tired overnight, so I planned a slow start today,” explained Mathys, who trailed in 4th position after 10km. “But I felt I was back in my comfort zone with the start of the climb to the summit. I had taken the lead by the time I reached the top, but Rachel (Drake) caught me on the descent and we ran together for a few kilometres, which I really enjoyed.”

Drake surpassed all expectations, including her own by racing past early leader, Blandine L’Hirondel after 12km and end the leg less than two minutes in arrears of Mathys.

RANKING STAGE 3

Scratch

Men

1 – BARTLOMIEJ PRZEDWOJEWSKI (PL) TEAM SALOMON: 02:34:49.477

2 – JIM WALMSLEY (USA) TEAM HOKA ONE ONE: 02:37:42.377

3 – ELHOUSINE ELAZZAOUI (MAR) TEAM SALOMON: 02:40:16.357

4 – STIAN ANGERMUND (NOR) TEAM SALOMON: 02:40:30.380

5 – FRANCESCO PUPPI (IT) TEAM NIKE TRAIL: 02:41:02.403

Women

1 – MAUDE MATHYS (CH) TEAM SALOMON: 03:00:17.163

2 – RACHEL DRAKE (USA) TEAM NIKE TRAIL: 03:02:03.267

3 – BLANDINE L’HIRONDEL (FR): 03:05:51.230

4 – TOVE ALEXANDERSSON (SW) TEAM ICEBUG: 03:09:49.673

5 – JOHANNA ÅSTRÖM (SW) TEAM ARC’TERYX: 03:12:27.670

Climb Ranking

Men

1 – REMI BONNET (CH) TEAM SALOMON: 00:41:00.893

2 – JIM WALMSLEY (USA) TEAM HOKA ONE ONE: 00:41:50.256

3 – BARTLOMIEJ PRZEDWOJEWSKI (PL) TEAM SALOMON: 00:42:09.627

4 – ORIOL CARDONA COLL (SP) TEAM DYNAFIT: 00:43:19.826

5 – FRANCESCO PUPPI (IT) TEAM NIKE TRAIL: 00:43:32.270

Women

1 – MAUDE MATHYS (CH) TEAM SALOMON: 00:50:32.946

2 – IRIS PESSEY (FR) TEAM SCOTT: 00:51:15.410

3 – RACHEL DRAKE (USA) TEAM NIKE TRAIL: 00:51:23.527

4 – BLANDINE L’HIRONDEL (FR): 00:52:51.520

5 – AUDREY TANGUY (FR) TEAM HOKA ONE ONE: 0:54:53.483

Downhill Ranking

Men

1 – ANTONIO MARTINEZ (SP) BUFF PRO TEAM: 00:07:57.173

2 – ANDERS KJÆREVIK (NOR) TEAM BERGEN RUNNING: 00:08:34.380

3 – JAMES WALMSLEY (USA) TEAM HOKA ONE ONE: 00:08:39.716

4 – FRANCESCO PUPPI (IT) TEAM NIKE TRAIL: 00:08:50.933

5 – JOHN LUNA-LIMA (USA) TEAM ASCENT PROTEIN: 00:08:59.410

Women 

1 – ANA CUFER (SLO – SALOMON: 00:09:37.684

2 – MAUDE MATHYS (CH) TEAM SALOMON: 00:10:05.173

3 – TOVE ALEXANDERSSON (SW) TEAM ICEBUG: 00:10:13.247

4 – BLANDINE L’HIRONDEL (FR): 00:10:31.133

5 – CAMILLE BRUYAS (FR) TEAM SALOMON: 00:10:34.943

Sprint Ranking

Men

1 – THEO DETIENNE (FR) TEAM SALOMON: 00:09:10.007

2 – ANDREU BLANES REIG (SP) TEAM CARNICAS SERRANO: 00:09:31.370

3 – BART PRZEDWOJEWSKI (PL) TEAM SALOMON: 00:10:36.896

4 – STIAN ANGERMUND (NOR) TEAM SALOMON: 00:10:40.633

5 – ELHOUSINE ELAZZAOUI (MAR) TEAM SALOMON: 00:10:40.784

Women

1 – GISELA CARRION (SP) TEAM LA SPORTIVA: 00:11:41.563

2 – BLANDINE L’HIRONDEL (FR): 00:11:50.527

3 – RACHEL DRAKE (USA) TEAM NIKE TRAIL: 00:12:18.436

4 – MAUDE MATHYS (CH) TEAM SALOMON: 00:12:28.133

5 – TOVE ALEXANDERSSON (SW) TEAM ICEBUG: 00:12:31.127

OVERALL RANKING AFTER STAGE 3

Overall Ranking

Men

1 – BART PRZEDWOJEWSKI (PL) TEAM SALOMON: 06:24:40.473 (yellow bib)

2 – JIM WALMSLEY (USA) TEAM HOKA ONE ONE: 06:33:34.807

3 – ELHOUSINE ELAZZAOUI (MAR) TEAM SALOMON: 06:36:02.204
4 – STIAN ANGERMUND (NOR) TEAM SALOMON: 06:36:21.080

5 – FREDERIC TRANCHAND (FR) TEAM Nvii SPORT: 06:36:57.463

Women

1 – MAUDE MATHYS (CH) TEAM SALOMON: 07:30:26.360 (yellow bib)
2 – TOVE ALEXANDERSSON (SW) TEAM ICEBUG: 07:35:37.807

3 – RACHEL DRAKE (USA) TEAM NIKE TRAIL: 07:41:09.101

4 – BLANDINE L’HIRONDEL (FR): 07:41:44.994

5 – JOHANNA ÅSTRÖM (SW) TEAM ARC’TERYX: 08:02:21.694

Climb Ranking

Men

1 – REMI BONNET (CH) TEAM SALOMON: 01:19:20.389 (red bib)
2 – JIM WALMSLEY (USA) TEAM HOKA ONE ONE: 01:20:16.244

3 – BART PRZEDWOJEWSKI (PL) TEAM SALOMON: 01:21:05.963

4 – STIAN ANGERMUND (NOR) TEAM SALOMON: 01:23:48.310

5 – ELHOUSINE ELAZZAOUI (MAR) TEAM SALOMON: 01:23:57.979

Women

1 – MAUDE MATHYS (CH) TEAM SALOMON: 01:35:27.721

2 – IRIS PESSEY (FR) TEAM SCOTT: 01:35:27.721 (red bib)

3 – RACHEL DRAKE (USA) TEAM NIKE TRAIL: 01:39:56.469

4 – BLANDINE L’HIRONDEL (FR): 01:42:02.193

5 – TOVE ALEXANDERSSON (SW) TEAM ICEBUG: 01:43:55.094

Downhill Ranking

Men

1 – ANDERS KJÆREVIK (NOR) TEAM BERGEN RUNNING: 00:18:48.007(blue bib)

2 – BART PRZEDWOJEWSKI (PL) TEAM SALOMON: 00:20:31.257

3 – JOHN LUNA-LIMA (USA) TEAM ASCENT PROTEIN: 00:20:33.269

4 – FREDERIC TRANCHAND (FR) TEAM Nvii SPORT: 00:21:00.336

5 – SEBASTIAN LJUNGDAHL (SW) TEAM SALMING: 00:21:09.717

Women

1 – ANA CUFER (SLO) TEAM SALOMON: 00:22:07.186 (blue bib)

2 – TOVE ALEXANDERSSON (SW) TEAM ICEBUG: 00:22:57.168

3 – BLANDINE L’HIRONDEL (FRA): 00:24:31.639

4 – JOHANNA ÅSTRÖM (SW) TEAM ARC’TERYX: 00:25:06.422

5 – RACHEL DRAKE (USA) TEAM NIKE TRAIL: 00:25:08.886

Sprint Ranking

Men

1 – THEO DETIENNE (FR) TEAM SALOMON: 00:21:49.967 (green bib)

2 – ANDREU BLANES REIG (SP) TEAM CARNICAS SERRANO: 00:22:04.180

3 – BART PRZEDWOJEWSKI (PL) TEAM SALOMON: 00:22:04.180

4 – ELHOUSINE ELAZZAOUI (MAR) TEAM SALOMON: 00:24:24.123

5 – FREDERIC TRANCHAND (FR) TEAM Nvii SPORT: 00:24:55.717

Women

1 – GISELA CARRION (SP) TEAM LA SPORTIVA: 00:28:19.686 (green bib)

2 – BLANDINE L’HIRONDEL (FR): 00:28:33.686

3 – MAUDE MATHYS (CH) TEAM SALOMON: 00:28:35.736 (yellow bib)

4 – TOVE ALEXANDERSSON (SW) TEAM ICEBUG: 00:29:02.136

5 – RACHEL DRAKE (USA) TEAM NIKE TRAIL: 00:29:45.349