Americans Janelle Lincks and Darren Thomas Win GTNS Final Stage 1

Announcement from the Golden Trail Series supported by American Trail Running Association (ATRA) member Salomon. Photos: Golden Trail Series.

The Americans took charge of the first stage of the Golden Trail National Series (GTNS) grand final in the Azores, Portugal with a double-whammy male and female win. The 27 km race featured 2,400 meters of vertical.

At Friday’s stage 1 race start, the sun smothers the wave-ravaged volcanic rocks with a warm glow, the ocean was kind to the runners who took the ferry from Horta to this first stage of the GTNS Grand Final. There are around 30 runners who qualified on the 11 Golden Trail National Series across the world, secretly hoping to defend their country’s flag at this ultimate showdown in the Azores archipelago. But at the end of this first day, it looks like the Americans have taken control!

Photo: Golden Trail Series

Women’s Race

She only discovered trail running last year but Janelle’s recent accomplishments include winning the Broken Arrow Skyrace 23K in California and Cirque Series Arapahoe Basin mountain race in Colorado. Hailing from Thornton, Colorado, Janelle Lincks (USA – pictured top of page) was mostly a road and track specialist before discovering a passion for trail races, particularly short and steep ones. However, she managed to play her cards right in the first stage with 27 km and 2,400m of vertical elevation, and its vertical kilometer on the last 4 kilometers. “I’m not used to running such long distances, she reveals after crossing the finish line. Usually I explode around the 20th km, it was the case today but I had enough of a lead to pull it off. From the start, I shot off in front and ran my race without looking back. I’m really happy but we’ll see what happens in the days to come because I’ve never done a stage race.”

Behind her we find Anna-Stinna Erkkilä (Team Salomon, Finland). After taking part in the Golden Trail World Series (GTWS) Grand Final on El Hierro island last week, she preferred to set out slower before gradually moving through the field to the race leaders. “It was my plan, I didn’t want to set off too fast and just hang in there. I managed the race well by limiting damage on the runnable terrain at the bottom and I started coming back on the long muddy section. Then, before attacking the climb towards Pico’s summit, I decided to stop at the aid station and really eat and drink properly. It paid off because I shot up through the field. I saw Janelle in front of me and I even thought I would catch her, but it wasn’t enough. We’ll see what happens in the next two stages.”

Eleanor Davis (United Kingdom) completes the podium. “It was a magnificent first stage but tough! The hardest part was coming back down the vertical kilometer after crossing the finish line to get back down to the refuge and finally eat and drink! I loved the flat section at the start and then there was the muddy section that I found pretty tough. And what can I say about the final climb… it destroys your legs! Despite all that I’m really pleased with this 3rd place.”

Start of the men’s race. Photo: Golden Trail Series.

Men’s Race

After his win at the Broken Arrow Skyrace VK in September and finishing 5th at the Pikes Peak Marathon in August, Darren Thomas (Team Salomon, USA) was one of the favorites and didn’t disappoint winning the first stage. “We set off pretty fast with Juan Carlos and Kieran, but they left me for dead in the muddy section where I didn’t know where to plant my feet. Then I saw them in the distance at the aid station just before the climb to the summit and I thought I better give it some gas. I caught them up pretty quick and then took the lead. It’s a stunningly beautiful course but really tough. I live in a dry desert area of America, so I know nothing about mud! And the last section was definitely the most technical that I’ve ever run in my life!”

Behind him we find another big favorite, Juan Carlos Carera (Team Buff, Mexico). “The race was really hard today. They set off really fast and I had to keep up. On the technical sections I managed better and I’m really very pleased with this result. Now, I just need to see how the two other stages will pan out.”

Moritz Heide (Team Adidas Terrex, Germany) completes the podium. “It was long, slippery, muddy, and rocky! A mega tough stage. I loved the bottom runnable section but after it was more difficult to manage. I can’t wait to continue the battle tomorrow and the day after tomorrow!”

Men’s race 2nd place finisher Moritz Heide (GER). Photo: Golden Trail Series.

Race Results


1 – JANELLE LINCKS (USA): 03:26:41
3 – ELEANOR DAVIS (GBR): 03:29:41
4 – JAEL MORALES (MEX): 03:36:30

Check out the full race results here:

What’s next on the program

Saturday 23rd October: stage 2 – 29km/1,700 m V+ (Sao Jorge Island) – Course Map
Sunday 24th October: stage 3 – 31km/1,350 m V+ (Faial Island) – Course Map

Follow the LIVE stories during the race on the Golden Trail Series Instagram page, as well as the live streaming on the Golden Trail Series Facebook page.

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