Chaski coaches Kimber Mattox and Emily Schmitz are running the Golden Trail World Championship in Portugal this Thursday. For four days over beautiful trails, they will compete in the series for a chance to race in the final race.
Stage 1 - 26KM with 1069 meters of vertical
Stage 2 - 32KM with 1343 meters of vertical
Stage 3 - 32KM with 2363 meters of vertical
Stage 4 - 36km with 1453 meters of vertical
At the end of the four-day competition, an overall ranking will be established for a male and female with the lowest cumulative time across all of the stages.
***Part Two has been updated below.
Good luck ladies!
1. Tell us about this race -- what is it and how does it work?
It's a four-day stage race that serves as the Finale or Championship race for the Golden Trails Series. We'll race between 16 and 22 miles per day, across magical islands....at least that's what I'm picturing! There are winners for each day of racing, overall winners for all four stages together, and even awards for the best climber, descender, and sprinter.
This race is based off the Golden Trail Series, which has completed two seasons so far and was cancelled this year due to Covid. As an alternative, the GTS created this championship event. The typical series takes some of the most iconic races from across the world and places them into one series, in the hopes of creating a high level of competition. The top 10 finishers from the series are invited to compete in the final race. The championships this year will include the top 10 athletes from last year, the segment winners, and a few racers who entered through the lottery.
As a side note for viewers at home -- The race is really good at providing updates, information and creating exciting and interesting storylines. You can follow along at their Instagram page, and find their past videos on YouTube.
2. This is a small invite-only race; how'd each of you qualify? And what made you want to do it?
With it being a bit of an unusual year, qualifying was done differently this year than typical years. So I qualified by running the fastest time on the Golden Segment in California, which earned me a Golden Ticket. It was a Strava segment in Truckee on the Donner Rim Trail. I didn't know much about the Golden Trails Series before this, but I heard about the Golden Segments and thought it sounded like a fun alternative to racing!
Many of the racers entered by winning their local segment. Since there were no segments in Colombia where I am living, I didn't plan on going. I entered the lottery but didn't have a lot of hope of getting in. A few weeks ago my name was selected.
3. Have you ever done a multi-day stage race before? Have you done anything differently in training to prepare for this?
I've never done a stage race before. Really the only time I've raced multiple days in a row was back in my college track days when I would run the steeplechase, 1500m, 5k triple. This obviously is a whole different league of racing and much bigger volume than I typically race. In terms of training, we really haven't done a whole lot different than normal. The main thing we've modified in training is trying to get in lots of vertical the last few weeks with some steep climbs because most of the stages have some pretty steep climbing.
I have not done a multi-date stage race before, it will be a learning experience. The series was on my mind throughout the year, but as races were cancelled around the world, and as travel became less and less possible, I put it out of my mind. It's been a strange year for training, and in Colombia, we had a much longer quarantine than most of the world, and we really have only been fully out for a little over a month. This has limited training possibilities quite a bit, so training has been a mix of what races might take place, and what possibilities exist within the restrictions we have.
4. What's your race strategy looking at the 4 days? What's your goal for the race?
Kimber- I'm a proponent of dreaming big and going for big goals, but I also think there are also times for embracing the experience of it all. So my goal really is to enjoy the experience and put in solid efforts each day. I don't have a real race strategy yet, but I know that climbing is my strength and technical downhills are my weakness, so with that in mind I know I'll have to play to my strengths and put in some good climbing efforts.
Four days of racing can be quite challenging, so I'm hoping to pace myself for the first few days. Since I've never run a multi-day race, there are a lot of unknowns for me, including how to best recover each night in order to wake up and race again the next day.
Regarding my goal for the race, I honestly didn't expect to race this year and this race took me by surprise, but I knew I had to go because it's one of my favorite race series; the courses are tough and always incredibly beautiful, and since a lot of the same athletes come year after year, I look forward to seeing familiar faces. After so many months in quarantine, I think my goals for racing have changed. During these past few months, more than racing itself, I have missed the company and companionship of running with other athletes. It still feels a little unbelievable that we will be able to race in Azores.
PART TWO- A live update
A high point of the trip/race so far:
The high point is being able to race again, see old friends, and remember what it feels like to put on your race shoes.
My high point is meeting new running friends from all over the world and learning a lot from the technical terrain.
The low point of the trip/race so far:
Low point is that many countries are going back into lockdown as COVID cases are on the rise, and it still feels concerning even if it feels far away right now.
The low point was getting lost on one of the days, but it was cool to get to team up with the other girls who also got lost to find our way back onto the course. I also ended up catching up with a friend I met on the trip and we decided to just send the downhill for fun since we were pretty far back in the race at that point.
The thing you're most intimidating for going forward:
We still have one more day of racing and now on day three I definitely feel like I have raced the past three days, so it will be interesting to see how my legs respond tomorrow
I agree with Emily that the fact that we've already raced nearly 50 miles and we have another 19-mile day to go is intimidating, especially because I've never raced more than 50k before.
The thing you're most stoked for going forward:
It's been a really great experience and I've learned a lot about stage races!
I'm most stoked for the friends I've made that I will hopefully get to stay connected with and see at races in the future.
***Chaski will update this blog after the race with updates so stay tuned.