Pikes Peak Marathon Selected as Part of the Five-Race Series in Salomon's Launch of the North American Golden Trail National Series
The Golden Trail Series Announces North American Golden Trail National Series
New U.S.- and Canada-based series will shine a spotlight on competitive trail running across five races in 2021
OGDEN, Utah (Feb. 18, 2021) – Today, Salomon announces the launch of the North American Golden Trail National Series (GTNS), inviting trail runners across North America to run the five-race series for a chance to compete in the GTNS Grand Final, a three-day stage race in the Azores Archipelago. The national series’ five races will be held across the U.S. and Canada.
“We are thrilled to further invest in trail running by bringing this popular global series to the US and Canada that will grow and evolve the sport in North America,” says Stephanie Gardner, sports marketing manager for Salomon USA. “The races we selected were designed to gather the greatest national athletes to compete on the most rugged, beautiful courses in the region and we’re really looking forward to highlighting them at the Golden Trail National Series in 2021.”
The North American series is comprised of four qualifying races and a final. To compete in the final, athletes must partake in at least three of the four races where they will earn points based on how they finish in each race. Athletes will earn double points at the final, which will be tallied with points earned from their best three out of four races. The top three men and top three women with the highest points will be invited to the GTNS Grand Final in the Azores, which will feature the top athletes from each of the seven GTNS around the world, including France/Belgium, Spain/Portugal, Italy, UK, Czech Republic/Slovakia/Poland and Germany/Austria/Switzerland. The top three men and women from the GTNS Grand Final will then go on to compete in the 2022 Golden Trail Championship.
“The 2020 Golden Trail Championship in the Azores was an absolute dream come true, so I’m excited that this series is launching on the national level and will elevate North American trail running athletes,” says professional trail runner and Salomon athlete, Bailey Marie Kowalczyk. “Not only was The Golden Trail Series a safe and fun trail running event last fall, but they mastered it in a way that brought so many people together and created an amazing competition. It’s exciting to hear this event will be taking place again and that more people will have the chance to compete on the world stage.”
The 2021 North American Golden Trail National Series will take place at the following locations:
Quebec Mega Trail 50k — Quebec
The Quebec Mega Trail 50k is the biggest ultra-trail competition in Canada that features over 7,775 feet of vertical gain throughout the course. The race starts in the village of Saint-Tite des Caps and then climbs up the brutal Mestachibo trail. Runners will then complete two ascents and two descents of Mont-Sainte-Anne (MSA), finishing with a 21km loop in the northern trails of MSA.
Pikes Peak Marathon — Manitou Springs, Colorado
The Pikes Peak Marathon is a race like no other and is known as Americas Ultimate Challenge. With a 2,382m vertical climb, the course takes runners from Manitou Springs, Colorado to the summit of Pikes Peak at 4,302m, and back down for a total of 26.2 grueling miles. The course runs mostly on Barr Trail, which has an average grade of 11%, is often narrow, winding, or steep along with sharp turns and abrupt changes in elevation or direction. It is the oldest continually held marathon in the United States, founded in 1956. And it has the distinction of the first marathon to allow a woman to enter and finish the race in 1959.
Whistler Alpine Meadows 55k — Whistler, BC
The Whistler Alpine Meadows 55k is a full point-to-point race route that features 9,200 feet of elevation gain with a beastly climb at the start. The race starts from Whistler’s Cheakamus Canyon area and traverses over the very top of Whistler Mountain to bring runners along Singing Pass and finishing up on the challenging windy single track of the Comfortably Numb trail system.
Way Too Cool 50k — Cool, California
The Way Too Cool 50k takes runners across the stunning and rugged landscape of California’s Sierra Nevada mountain range. The race features 4,839 feet of elevation gain on mostly single track, winding through the Secret Tail and Western States Trail. Official race date coming soon.
Broken Arrow Skyrace 26k North American Final — Squaw Valley, California
The Broken Arrow 26k covers a world-class loop that showcases some of Squaw Valley’s most famous terrain. From the valley floor at 6,200 feet, runners will ascend nearly 5,000 feet as they circumnavigate the heralded terrain of one of North America’s most rugged and extreme ski resorts. The course is characterized by a plethora of vertical gain over a technical and physically demanding landscape that’s mostly above tree line.
Golden Trail National Series Grand Final – Azorean Triangle
The top three men and women from the North American GTNS will get to travel to the Azorean Triangle for a 100km 3-day stage race on the Faial, Pico and São Jorge Islands. The top three men and top three women from this race will get to travel to the Golden Trail Championship in 2022.
The Golden Trail National Series is dedicated to following COVID safety protocols for the US & Canada GTNS races to ensure a safe and fun experience for all competitors and staff. Please check the GTNS website for the most up-to-date race information. For more information about the North American GTNS, please visit, https://www.goldentrailseries.com/series/usa-can/.
Brandon Stapanowich, Manitou Springs
Co-Race Director, Barr Trail Mountain Race
It was around 1998 when the high school version of me was flippantly flipping through my dad’s Runner’s World magazine. I was living in North Carolina and didn’t run for running’s sake at the time, so I lacked context for trail running, Pikes Peak, Colorado, marathons, and any elevation over 6,000 ft. Yet despite that lack of perspective, when I turned to an image captioned, “Runners nearing the summit during the Pikes Peak Marathon,” I knew that my eyes were sharing something powerful with my brain. My experience of running at that time was simply as a means to chase a ball, or to chase a person to prevent them from striking a ball, or sometimes as punishment for not doing one of those things well enough. Yet even with my limited perspective on what it would actually take to run to the summit of Pikes Peak and back, there was something viscerally poignant about seeing that picture, enough to where some internal tinder was set aflame. Those gritty runners grunting and grinding on the 16 Golden Stairs moved my soul and gave me the notion that someday, I too would be running on that mountain.
Of course, initially I didn’t have an idea of when or how my goal would come to fruition and no prediction of when I’d actually be running on the mountain. But that’s often how the most ambitious and adventurous goals in life work, at least for me. Start a grand idea, born from little more than unexamined enthusiasm, and commit to it before that fiery feeling of excitement fleets. From there, the steps along the way and all the necessary minutiae that come with it become clearer to identify and act upon. Emotion inspiring execution.
Though the long game was at play, this formula eventually led to my first Pikes Peak Marathon 13 years later in 2011. That race surpassed my expectations. It took my breath away on the way up, a little bit of blood on the way down, and left me with a 26.2 mile-long grin of accomplishment.
Using excitement and curiosity to fuel escapades has led to more quests for experiences on and off of America’s Mountain. These have included a self-created Pikes Ultra (4 round trips completed both in 2013 and 2016), a marathon on the Manitou Incline dubbed the Inclination, the Ultra Inclinathon consisting of 24 hours of round trips on the Incline, completing the Colorado Trail, and pioneering a Colorado Springs Skyline Traverse (linking Blodgett Peak, Ormes Peak, Cameron Cone, Pikes Peak, Almagre, Mt. Baldy, Mt. Rosa, and Cheyenne Mountain).
The downside to this recipe is that, at its nature, waiting on emotion to dictate a goal can be a fickle thing. Deep-set feelings are rarely reliable and typically don’t like to be called upon at a moment’s notice. They require time, cultivation, and a healthy bit of introspective work, before the right idea comes with the right feeling and sticks.
This quandary has been particularly relevant over the past year and many questions arise. When will covid case numbers drop? When will vaccinations rise so that races can happen with regularity? What adventure will stir my soul again? In a time of great uncertainty, when motivation may be a little harder to summon, the Pikes Peak Marathon has once again inspired.
You see, one great thing about this race is the amount of data that has been recorded and is available. Results dating back to 1976 can be found in the annals of internet history. I actually didn’t realize the extent of this until after a conversation with a friend of mine, Wes, but there are age group records for women and men for each individual year of age. Seeing the names and the times representing the very best performances across the age span, in a time when all of our mortality seems just a little closer, has me wondering what I will be like when I’m in my 7th decade of life. Will I still be able to run? Will I still be able to climb mountains? My hope, naturally, is that the answer to these questions is yes. That, on a Sunday morning in 2062, I’ll be lining up on Manitou Avenue, running my way past No Name Creek and Barr Camp and A-Frame. After high-fiving a volunteer, I’ll tip toe between the boulders and back to town, this time without falling. It’ll be at a much slower pace than today, but how wonderful of an experience would that be. So look out 78 year old men’s Pikes Peak Marathon record… I’m starting my training today. And I’m (eventually) coming for you!
- Brandon Stapanowich, Manitou Springs
Co-Race Director, Barr Trail Mountain Race
We know how amazing Pikes Peak Marathon's course is and how incredible our runners are that take on America's greatest challenge -- and so does the WORLD! In 2021, the Pikes Peak Marathon will again host some of the best runners from around the world as they compete for HUGE prize money and rankings to earn a position in the Golden Trail World Series Grand Final in November, 2021, in the K42 Adventure Marathon in Patagonia, Argentina. Be prepared to see dozens of the top runners from around the world as they battle it out right here on Pikes Peak's Barr Trail along with you!
It feels like a decade ago that the Pikes Peak Marathon staff were meeting in person at small coffee shops downtown to plan the 2020 event, sitting within six feet of eachother, and even once sharing a sip of whatever fancy latte somebody had bought (gasp!!) My how things have changed since March...
By early April we saw many other May / June events cancel, or 'go virtual.' We knew virtual wasn't an option for us... Pikes Peak is Pikes Peak, and running any course other than Barr Trail, to anywhere other than the 14,115 ft. summit, would NOT be the Pikes Peak Marathon. Virtual wasn't an option.
We also knew that we had special circumstances that *might* make it possible for us to pull off our event. The marathon is 'only' 800 people. The Governor had come out saying that we were safest either at home or 'in the vast, great outdoors'... and you can't get more vast or great than Barr Trail. Ron Ilgen, the Race Director, asked me to take on the role of COVID Lead and work with the county and state health departments to see if we could come up with a plan. By late May, we knew that while the Ascent had to be cancelled (largely due to the challenges of having to socially distance in a van on the way down from the Summit, but also the massive construction zone and lack of protection from the elements at the top), we were going to try and make the Marathon a go.
© Pikes Peak Marathon