Announcement from the Golden Trail World Series, supported by American Trail Running Association member Salomon Running. Above Photo: Rachel Drake, @GoldenTrailSeries | @OlladeNuria | @jsaragossa.
The Olla de Nuria race, Clashes on the Catalan Summit
After the 2020 modified season, the Golden Trail World Series was back this past Sunday June 13th, for the first race of the season on the Olla de Nuria trail in the Spanish Pyrenees, which replaced Zegama. Starting in Vall de Nuria, Spain, the first event that set the standards very high for the rest of the racing season with a stacked line-up and exceptional intensive racing at over 6,500 feet above sea level.
The early morning silence has now been replaced by the usual pre-race-start excitement. The 13 mile long Olla de Nuria race will set off in 10 minutes, a technical route with more than 70% of the trails over 8,800 feet above sea level, it’s the first time this race has been in the Golden Trail World Series – to replace Zegama’s cancellation.
A rarely seen top-ranking men’s line-up: Davide Magnini (Team Salomon, Italy), Rémi Bonnet (Team Salomon, Switzerland), Nadir Maguet (Team La Sportiva, Italy), Bartlomiej Przedwojewski (Team Salomon, Poland), Stian Angermund (Team Salomon, Norway), Nicolas Martin (Team Hoka One One, France), Thibaut Baronian (Team Salomon, France), former World Championship team member David Sinclair (Team Salomon, USA)… the list goes on and on making the prognostics incredibly difficult.
The women’s line-up also granted little certainty: Maude Mathys (Team Salomon, Switzerland), overall winner of the Golden Trail Championship in the Azores in 2020, is drawing the most attention. But alongside her are women such as Blandine L’Hirondel (Team Hoka One One, France), Judith Wyder (Team Salomon, Switzerland), former World Championship team members Rachel Drake (Team Nike Trail, USA) and Dani Moreno (Team Hoka One One, USA), Denisa Dragomir (Team Red Bull/Merrell, Romania), Oihana Kortazar (Team Salomon, Spain) and Mathilde Sagnes (Team Hoka One One, France), could also make their mark on today’s race route: 13 miles and 6,365 feet of climbing above an altitude of more than 6,500 feet.
We expected an intense battle between Rémi Bonnet and Davide Magnini in the long uphill that led the runners to the highest point of the race (3 miles and 3,200 feet of vert to the top). In the end, it was the Swiss who took a 25-second lead in front of the Norwegian Stian Angermund who joined the battle. From then on, the two men scorched the trail in tandem along the long ridge at over 8,800 feet high, combining technical descents and radical steep climbs. If for a long time we thought we would need to wait for the final downhill to see the outcome of this thrilling dual, a sudden fall by Rémi Bonnet enabled Stian to career forward and leave only dust in his wake.
The Norwegian from Team Salomon crossed the line in an astounding 2 hours and 4 minutes almost one minute in front of the Swiss who gritted his teeth to finish the race with a nasty deep cut on his arm and shock to his chest. “It’s incredible to see all this energy” Stian Angermund gleamed at the finish line. “We’ve been waiting for this for so long! Just finishing a race with a crowd would’ve been enough to make me happy. But it’s true I felt good today, I felt that I was in good shape in training, but it’s hard to gauge yourself when you haven’t run with anyone else for such a long time. Anyway, I am really happy with this victory.”
Rémi Bonnet was also satisfied with this first race, even if he would’ve liked to have continued the battle with his teammate longer. “We were both doing great. I did a monstruous climb, then I followed him across the ridgeline. He’s a downhill demon and I tried to keep up with him in the downhill sections… Then I fell down hard just before the final climb. I thought I was going to quit, it cut open my arm and I was winded by the shock to the chest and I couldn’t breathe properly. I stopped for 30 seconds and then took off again. Stian took the opportunity to accelerate, but I would have done the same”, he laughed.
Davide Magnini on the other hand was not all smiles… “It was not a great day for me, I am very disappointed. I was really hoping to do better than third, but I just never got the power in my legs! I wasn’t in the groove, I had no spring. I spent the entire race fighting with myself to get on the podium, but I’m going to have to do a hell of a lot better in the races to come.”
The top American male finisher was David Sinclair in 8th place (2:10:46).
Untouchable Maude Mathys
In the women’s field, there was no surprise to see the Swiss Maude Mathys dominate the race from start to finish. On her own from the first climb, she just continued increasing the lead gap over her pursuers. “I raced the first climb very fast because I was afraid for the technical parts on the ridgeline and the downhill sections, she explains. But afterwards I had no idea what the gaps between us were, and I was really stressed to have the girls catch me up. I was also suffering from the altitude but when I saw that the guys weren’t going any faster it reassured me.” She would finish almost 12 minutes in front of her pursuers.
Behind her, several women were wrapped in a merciless dual for the podium. Among them, Judith Wyder would finish by grabbing second position thanks to her storming effort in the last climb and huge downhill. “For me it’s a massive personal victory today, she said through tears at the finish. I’m just back from my second pregnancy and had to train immensely hard to get back up to this level. I had no idea what level I could reach. Maude is in another galaxy, and I will need to train even harder to get back to my best level, but today I just want to savour this result, which means so much to me.”
Behind, Oihana Kortazar was the big shot of the day finishing in third position in this very tough race. “It’s a huge surprise! I had absolutely no idea I would end up here today! she says. I told myself before the start that a top 5 would already be an excellent result. But to grab a podium spot? Unthinkable! When you look at the Azores, I was always way behind girls like Rachel or Blandine… Honestly, it’s amazing, and I’m very happy!”
The top American female finisher was Rachel Drake in 6th place (2:39:48). 2019 USATF 50 km Trail National Champion Dani Moreno finished in 8th place (2:46:01).
Next up in Chamonix (France), on July 4th is the Marathon du Mont-Blanc, the second stage of the 2021 Golden Trail World Series.
- STIAN ANGERMUND (NOR – SALOMON): 02:04:16 (+100 pts)
- RÉMI BONNET (CHE – SALOMON): 02:05:48 (+88 pts)
- DAVIDE MAGNINI (ITA – SALOMON): 02:06:05 (+78 pts)
- NADIR MAGUET (ITA – LA SPORTIVA): 02:08:27 (+72 pts)
- THIBAUT BARONIAN (FRA – SALOMON): 02:08 :27 (+68 pts)
- MAUDE MATHYS (CHE – SALOMON): 02:21:52 (+100 pts)
- JUDITH WYDER (CHE – SALOMON): 02:34:24 (+ 88 pts)
- OIHANA KORTAZAR (ESP – SALOMON): 02:35:35 (+ 78 pts)
- BLANDINE L’HIRONDEL (FRA – HOKA ONE ONE): 02:37:44 (+72 pts)
- ELISE PONCET (FRA – TEAM MATRYX): 02:39:03 (+68 pts)
- RACHEL DRAKE (USA – NIKE TRAIL): 02:39:48
Complete results can be found on this website.