GTWS Sierre-Zinal

GTWS Sierre-Zinal: The Kilian & Maude Story

Kilian Jornet and Maude Mathys continued their run of victories on Saturday — the first victory for Jornet in the Golden Trail World Series (GTWS) and the third for Mathys. At the 2021 Sierre-Zinal in Switzerland, fans were greeted with a familiar sight as the homegrown Maude came toward the finish line, doing a short hand walk on the way. Meanwhile, a short time later, Kilian Jornet came barreling toward the finish line to win the men’s race — bagging his ninth win in this race in his career.

Sierre-Zinal background

The Sierre-Zinal is an annual race held in the Swiss canton of Valais. Dubbed the “New York Marathon” of mountain races, runners will cross 31km (19mi) and over 2,200m (7,200ft) of mountains to reach the finish line. The course winds around and over mountains — with expansive vistas stretching out to create some stunning views along the way — leading to a challenging course with some steep climbs.

Despite the steepness, runners prefer to go fast on this course. Runners will go racing out from the beginning and maintain a high tempo throughout. The final 7km (4mi) are all descents, resulting in a lot of overtaking as strong downhill runners use this opportunity to gain a few places.

Maude Mathys is unbeatable in the GTWS

GTWS: Maude Mathys
Maude Mathys in the 2021 Sierre-Zinal
Credit: Roger Epiney

Maude had won the Sierre-Zinal the previous two years and has been in great form to get her third straight. Thus far, in every race she has entered in the GTWS, she’s won easily. Saturday was no different.

From the beginning, Maude put the hammer down and raced out to an early lead. She looked strong throughout the race, holding a commanding lead throughout.

The second-place finisher, Nienke Brinkman from the Netherlands, tried to close the gap and ran a strong race herself. Maude was just too much, though, as she finished with a time of 2:46:03.

Brinkman would cross the finish line about three minutes after, finishing with a time of 2:48:58.

Anais Sabrie rounded out the podium, finishing with a strong time of 2:55:23 — about seven minutes after Brinkman.

What next for Maude Mathys in the GTWS?

Winning her third race in as many times gives Maude 300 points on the season, which gives her a 59 point cushion on the second-place overall female, Judith Wyder. Given her strong efforts so far, she has all but secured herself a place in the GTWS Final on October 16th. This event will take place on El Hierro in the Canary Islands.

Maude is sure to be a favorite in the GTWS Final. She has led every race she’s been in and has won comfortably in each one. It isn’t easy to put your money on anyone else in a head-to-head race.

Kilian Jornet shows why he’s still the best

GTWS: Kilian Jornet
Kilian Jornet in the 2021 Sierre-Zinal
Credit: Roger Epiney

This race was the first of the GTWS season for Kilian. However, he’s largely considered the greatest trail runner ever to live and is a favorite in every race he enters.

Having not seen him in action in the GTWS this season, the trail running community eagerly awaited seeing him in action. Would he still be able to dominate the top competition like in past years?

It didn’t take long for him to answer those questions.

He hung a few places back, allowing Remi Bonnet to set the pace up the steep climb at the beginning. Bonnet and Jornet stayed together, leading the pack, for the first 8km (5mi) before Petro Mamu caught and joined the group.

Around 12km (7.5mi) in, Kilian decided it was time to step on the gas and see if Bonnet and Mamu could keep the pace. He sped off, separating from Bonnet first, then Mamu a few kilometers later.

The pace was too much to handle for Bonnet and Mamu. They would drop out of the top five, with Bonnet finishing 9th and Mamu finishing 29th.

Kilian would finish with an official time of 2:31:44. Robbie Simpson followed him from England (2:32:26), and Cesare Maestri (2:33:51) rounded out the top three.

What next for Kilian Jornet in the GTWS?

Kilian has not announced what race he will be running next. However, runners must participate in at least three out of the six qualifying races to qualify for the Final. Since this was his first race this season, he would have to run in the remaining races to qualify.

The remaining qualifying races are CTR in Germany on September 4th and the Skyrhune in France on September 25th. In addition, he would have to place in the top 11 to qualify. He currently sits at eleventh with 100 points.

If Kilian reaches the Final in October, then he’s sure to be a favorite. However, Stian Angermund — a teammate of Jornet at Salomon — has been a force in the GTWS this season. Like Maude, he has won every race he has entered and has looked strong in each performance.

It would be great to see a battle between these two Salomon athletes in October.

GTWS Standings

Mens

  1. Stian Angermund (NOR) — 300 points
  2. Davide Magnini (ITA) — 234 points
  3. Remi Bonnet (SUI) — 219 points
  4. Bart Przedwojewski (POL) — 203 points
  5. Thibaut Baronian (FRA) — 198 points
  6. Christian Mathys (SUI) — 153 points
  7. Anthony Felber (FRA) — 120 points
  8. Krzysztof Bodurka (POL) — 117 points
  9. Sylvain Cachard (FRA) — 115 points
  10. Francesco Puppi (ITA) — 109 points
  11. Stephan Wenk (SUI) & Kilian Jornet (ESP) — 100 points
  12. Roberto Delorenzi (SUI) — 97 points

Womens

  1. Maude Mathys (SUI) — 300 points
  2. Judith Wyder (SUI) — 241 points
  3. Blandine L’Hirondel (FRA) — 222 points
  4. Marcela Vasinova (CZE) — 221 points
  5. Odile Spycher (SUI) — 183 points
  6. Nuria Gil (ESP) — 177 points
  7. Anais Sabrie (FRA) — 166 points
  8. Sara Alonso (ESP) — 156 points
  9. Anna-Stiina Erkkila (FIN) — 147 points
  10. Caitlin Felder (NZL) & Marianne Fatton (SUI) — 119 points
  11. Karina Carsolio (MEX) — 113 points
  12. Oihana Kortazar (ESP) — 110 points

Conclusion

Two frontrunners have emerged in this year’s GTWS. Stian Angermund (who didn’t compete in Sierre-Zinal because his wife was having their baby) and Maude Mathys have owned the competitions they’ve entered so far.

However, Kilian Jornet will always be a challenge in the men’s division, as he proved in Switzerland on Saturday. In addition, Davide Magnini — second-place finisher in the last GTWS Final — is always someone to watch.

We will see who will step up to challenge Maude on the women’s side, with Judith Wyder (the reigning champion) looking like the most likely challenger.

Either way, it’s been an exciting GTWS season so far, and I’m looking forward to more.

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