BRIAN METZLER - Published Sep 25, 2023
Original article by Boulder based, Brian Metzler, for TrailRunnerMag.com
The Golden Trail World Series is elevating the exposure—and clout—of ‘sub-ultra’ trail racing
Late on the night of September 16th, several of the world’s best trail runners could be found dancing and frolicking in costumes at the Buffalo Lodge Bicycle Resort in Manitou Springs, Colorado.
They’d run 13 miles up to the 14,115-foot finish line of the Pikes Peak Ascent that morning, and now Switzerland’s Rémi Bonnet and American Sophia Laukli—the race winners—were celebrating in style with dozens of other competitors who participated in the latest stop of the Golden Trail World Series international race circuit.
The post-race party included plenty of adult beverages, dancing to the tunes of a DJ, the community drinking from a shot-ski and, later—perhaps because of the liquid consumed off that shot-ski—some spontaneous unicycle and tricycle riding from the lodge’s collection of velocipedes.
Now in its fifth season, the Golden Trail World Series--a Salomon-sponsored lineup of high-profile and very challenging mountain races around the world—is all about three things: fast and frenzied made-for-TV trail racing, enticing thirst-trap promotional content, and endless amounts of rowdy fun that matches the high-energy running experiences.
In many ways, it’s at the opposite end of the spectrum of the more staid cavalcade of fun in the ultrarunning world. That’s not a knock against ultra-distance races, but more a hint of the growing excitement brewing in the mountain running scene.
This year’s Golden Trail races range in length from 21K to 42K—roughly half-marathon to marathon distances—which means there is always time to party later at night.
“It’s fun because it’s based on short and fast trail racing, which is what I love,” says Allie McLaughlin, a Hoka-sponsored trail runner from Colorado Springs. “It’s just a different vibe than a lot of races.”
Overall, there are a lot more shorter-distance mountain running events and participants than there are in the ultra-distance scene, but for years ultrarunners and key races have gotten most of the attention.
“I think it’s much more approachable,” says Dani Moreno, an Adidas-Terrex pro from Mammoth Lakes, California. “If you told someone who wanted to get into trail running that they could only do a 100-miler, most would say, ‘Uh, no thank you.’ And I get it because when I first started trail running, I was asked, from the get-go, ‘When are you going to do your first 100?’ That was always the conversation, but it took me five years just to do a 50K. But the point is that the performances of runners at shorter distances are just as impressive as the runners doing longer distances.”
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