24th October 2021 – Faial Island, The Azores, PORTUGAL
Pikes Peak Runners, Janelle Lincks and Darren Thomas win the GTNS 2021 Grand Final!
After Salomon's Golden Trail National Series final stage, Colorado Springs runner, Darren Thomas won the GTNS 2021 Grand Final! Darren is an 8 time Pikes Peak Marathon veteran, taking 5th place overall in the 2021 PPM. At just 16 years old, he ran his first Pikes Peak in 2010, taking the 3rd place age group award in the Pikes Peak Ascent that year. 2021 Pikes Peak Ascent runner, Janelle Lincks of Thornton, CO was the overall female winner of the GTNS Grand Final. Janelle was 7th overall female and 2nd place age group in her first Pikes Peak Ascent this year.
Here is Salomon's recap of the GTNS Grand Final:
The longest stage was kept for last, and it was probably the most technical as well. This week’s final showdown in the Azores was always going to be epic, and it didn’t disappoint! The runners set off at 11:30 am (local time) in the hope of taming the sharp volcanic terrain, grassy slopes, and muddy forest single tracks on Faial Island. At the end of this journey: three Golden Tickets to be able to compete at the highest international level on 3 of the Golden Trail Championship 2022 races.
Anna-Stinna wins today’s stage, Janelle wins overall
She wanted it, and she went all out to get it! Anna-Stina Erkkilä (Team Salomon, Finlande) pushed her body through its limits in the last section to bring home the victory on the third and final stage of the GTNS 2021 Grand Final. "I felt really strong today, she beamed at the finish line. I’d already run a pretty similar stage last year in the Azores and I loved it! I adore these kinds of single tracks between the trees and the technical sections. I honestly didn’t think I’d win the last stage I just wanted to keep in the top 3, but I must admit I had great legs today. I knew Janelle was way too far ahead in the standings to be able to win overall. In the end, we did the whole race together and I won, I don’t know how, leaving her behind on the last uphill just before the end. So, there you have it, I’m qualified for 3 races in the GTC 2022! I’m so proud of myself! I don’t know yet which races I’ll choose, I need to think about which ones are best suited to me, but I can’t wait!" Janelle Lincks (USA) finished a few seconds behind the Finn. "I enjoyed the whole adventure these last three days, even though I feel completely drained. My legs are toast, I’m dead! Anna-Stinna was really strong today and Jael too. I’m very happy to win this final and qualify for 3 races next year. I’d really love to do Zegama! For the other two I’ll see but it’s really exciting to be able to compete against other runners on this type of race." Despite a 4th place on this final stage, Eleanor Davis (UK) succeeded in keeping her spot on the podium. "It’s the first time this week that I’ve suffered so much, she admits. I don’t think I ate enough, and I felt drained, I wasn’t hungry and at the end I was losing it a bit. But I also knew that I was ahead of the fourth, so I tried to relax and enjoy it. I’m really happy to qualify for next year. I’d love to do the Marathon du Mont-Blanc and Sierre-Zinal. Then, if there’s a race in the USA, I will probably go!"
Abraham once again, and Darren was too strong!
Abraham Hernandes (Mexico) was already impressive on the second stage on São Jorge, once again he showed his talent on Faial today by finishing more than 4 minutes ahead of his first pursuer. "I’m happy because I ran a great race and caught up a lot of time, but it was tough! My legs are toast from the successive days of running. At least I get my podium spot, which was my main goal because now I’m qualified for 3 races next year, it’s really fabulous for me and I’m thrilled!" Thanks to his second place Daniel Castillo Fernandez (C.A.A Marathon Crevillent, Spain) secures his qualification in the GTC 2022, by also finishing 2nd in the overall ranking. "It was a different race from the previous days with a combination of tough volcanic terrain and forest trails that were both fast and technical. I’m thrilled with this result because I want to keep improving and for that, to do international races with elite runners is fantastic! This is an amazing opportunity for me." Even though he finished third in today’s stage, Darren Thomas (Team Salomon, USA) had too much of lead over his competitors to be caught up in the overall ranking. Therefore, he wins the GTNS 2021 Grand Final. "It was a completely new experience for me to do a stage race and it wasn’t easy to manage. I knew I had to be strategic but when I saw Juan Carlos shoot off, I was a trifle scared. Fortunately for me, he blew up and I could catch up with him and confirm my first place overall. I’m really pleased with my qualification because this was my first ever race in Europe and next year, I would love to run the legendary races like Sierre-Zinal or Zegama and go up against the world’s best athletes."
Stage 3 Results
1 – ABRAHAM HERNANDES (MEX): 03:10:56
2 – DANIEL CASTILLO FERNANDEZ (ESP – C.A.A MARATHON CREVILLENT): 03:15:00
3 – DARREN THOMAS (USA – SALOMON): 03:16:38
4 – MORITZ AUF DER HEIDE (GER – ADIDAS TERREX): 03:20:57
5 –JORDAN CLAY (GBR – FREEDOM RACING): 03:24:08
1 – ANNA-STINNA ERKKILÄ (FIN – SALOMON): 03:47:22
2 – JANELLE LINCKS (USA): 03:47:42
3 – JAEL MORALES (MEX): 03:50:30
4 – ELEANOR DAVIS (GBR): 03:57:47
5 – KATARINA LOVRATOVA (SVK): 03:59:23
1 – DARREN THOMAS (USA – SALOMON): 08:34:27
2 – DANIEL CASTILLO FERNANDEZ (ESP – C.A.A MARATHON CREVILLENT): 08:38:47
3 – ABRAHAM HERNANDES (MEX): 08:39:33
4 – MORITZ AUF DER HEIDE (GER – ADIDAS TERREX): 08:42:35
5 – JUAN CARLOS CARERA (MEX – BUFF): 08:45:41
1 – JANELLE LINCKS (USA): 10:02:12
2 – ANNA-STINNA ERKKILÄ (FIN – SALOMON): 10:06:11
3 – ELEANOR DAVIS (GBR): 10:18:10
4 – JAEL MORALES (MEX): 10:27:07
5 – KATARINA LOVRATOVA (SVK): 10:35:42
Check out the full race results here: https://resultados.stopandgo.pro/643/Live
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