D-10 for the 42K du Mont Blanc, lap No. 2 of the GTWS. What can you expect after the Zegama show: bread and games, new or even more? we open a series of interviews with his witness actors. They are athletes, organizers, tellers. Or for example
Manitous : meeting with Greg Vollet, Chief Architect GTWS, without taboos. Sport, sport and more sport – the gospel according to Vollet.
Zegama has just opened the GTWS 2022: athletic fireworks and another media moment. Should we expect the same technical development in Chamonix or other events?
A milestone has indeed been reached in the Basque Country, although it was not easy! (white zone, no 4G, working on radio frequencies, temporary loss of video, etc.). The potential of live trail is there, and live Zegama’s 400,000 views confirm it. I’ve been convinced of that for a long time; even though I think it is technically still premature for an antenna of the general public. Nevertheless, Chamonix promises because the networks there are perfect. And then there is the new route: start at Cham’, back to Cham’, that changes a lot! We will have electric mountain bikes: especially at the start and to keep up with the Kenyans who risk leading the way on the flat from the start; then camera runners in relay races, drones, etc. And in Sierre-Zinal we should have the same live quality. Have you mentioned the main TV media? indeed we are discussing but at the moment they are estimating that it will take too long to be reshipped. 1h30, 2h max, but 4h… so we’re working on it. It is the competition that must be preserved. In 2023, Sierre-Zinal will be filmed live on RTS Switzerland. But we also know the risk of media coverage, as I’ve experienced with mountain biking, or that we see with alpine skiing: that the federal government succumbs to television sirens and always shortens the events so that they can be filmed … probably not happening on the GTWS!
After Zegama as organiser, shouldn’t we fear a “sub-event” in Chamonix?
It is true that Zegama is the ideal event to open the season. But it also gives the athletes a chance to catch their breath: Zegama, it’s done, “Now, what are my next goals? However, on this Mont Blanc 2022 we get a super interesting field: for example 12 men are above 900 points – and even the Kenyans are just starting to collect points! A Cesare Maestri who makes 3.e 2′ of Kilian sur Sierre 2021 is not even at 900! Why ? Because it comes from mountain running and its values are not counted. And these indices don’t fully reflect reality – another debate. On the animation side, I have great hopes for… the French public: new route, and rivalry of applause meter with the Basques! it changes the show tremendously as the spectators can be much closer to the race. At the ravito du Tour, all the bells, vuvuzelas, goodies will be possible to create a fan zone: a Sancti Spiritu Chamoniard! and why not in the rise of Posets. Ditto with this departure/return from the center of Cham’, great show awaiting.
Doesn’t the GTWS label run the risk of becoming the absolute quest for events, driving them to excess (excessive attendance or limitations) or neglecting some of their trials, even their identity?
Let’s separate things. On the one hand, there is the Golden Trail National Series and their 23 countries. Should be added China, South Korea, it is developing. In the World Series we have some iconic races and others that we try to alternate. This rotation is done so that the runners can explore, discover, with this interest that is also their passion in what they do. However, everything is done permanently on the advice of the runners, via the questionnaires that we send them. Example: “In 2023, the European Trail Championships will be held in Austria at the beginning of June. Zegama falls on May 28. What are we doing ? “. I will never make the decision alone. We organize the best possible show and therefore we want to have the best possible actors, motivated, passionate: the athletes. Finally, regarding the final, from the beginning we have almost every one of these races created; different, exotic, volcanic, etc. At this point we begin to receive requests from destinations that want to welcome them. But these are territorial, global approaches, who want to discover a country or a region through nature or the path. I find them interesting.
Let’s talk about level and athletes: given the (big) absentees (Stian, Kilian, Bart, Maude, Nienke…), who would you expect at this MMB?
Davide seems inevitable, given his race on Zegama. He himself couldn’t get over the fact that he had held Kilian for so long! He won the MMB, finished 2e last year, and knows the route. As always, I could see him waiting for Tré-le-Champ before attacking; until then I think he will be in the group of Baronian, Albon, El Azzaoui, Maguet. Up front I think we’ll find Pkemboi, Kiptanui, the Kenyans, Mamu… This Mamu that’s scary. But not sure if it’s valid for the entire race? But I see the Kenyans shooting in the beginning and outrunning the followers… who should not get carried away. Cesare Maestri inside, Theo Detienne, Fred Tranchand. The climb to Flégère will hurt those who left too soon. Among the women, Anaïs Sabrié is the big favorite; she was already several races close to victory – and there, neither Maude nor Nienke… Sara Alonso is long-awaited, young and explosive, liberated. But a Sheila Aviles is back, solid in Spain, already victorious over Zegama, let’s not forget. And Julie Roux! Julie archi-solid, who regularly pulls out perfs on all types of formats; mind blow.
Do you foresee an extra milestone in the professionalization of trail running via the GTWS22, and what would that be: further increasing the rewards, the invitation policy, etc.? †
You can organize the most beautiful competitions in the world, if the sponsors don’t see each other, I continue to believe that it won’t work. unavoidable. This is why broadcasts remain crucial, as do TV series (Editor’s Note: “Chasing Dreams”) that inform runners who don’t necessarily have sponsors. Currently, the number of athletes with a real financial contract is very low. The Golden is designed to help them: them, the athletes and the sport. This is the raison d’être and it will remain so. In a few years I sincerely hope that these athletes will draw legitimacy from the GTWS arguments when they have to approach a sponsor, a partner. That they can (finally) make a living from their sport, and let’s not forget, from their daily activities.