In its 20th running, the 73-kilometer Grand Trail des Templiers remains the cornerstone event of the, now, three-day, nine-race, 8,000-trail-runner Festival des Templiers. In honor of this important anniversary, the organizers have brought together elite teams representing the United States, France, and the rest of the world to Millau, France. These stars, along with 2,500 other runners, will have a chance at $20,000 (€15,200) in prize money that goes 10 runners deep. Along the way, they’ll deal with 11,000’+ in vertical gain.
We’ll be in France to bring you all the action on Sunday, October 26. The race begins at 5:15 a.m. local time, which is 10:15 p.m. on Saturday, October 25 MDT in the U.S.
For more on Templiers, check out our men’s preview.
The U.S. Squad
It’s rare to see so strong a quartet of American women on the start line of 50-mile race in the U.S., let alone in France.
Cassie Scallon has the strongest 50-mile resume of the group. To start, she first made the spotlight with her 6:31 win of the JFK 50 Mile in November 2011. Two years later, she won the star-studded Lake Sonoma 50 Mile (post-race interview) in convincing fashion. Later last year, a 6:24 to win the Tussey Mountainback 50 Mile, the USATF Road 50 Mile National Championship. Early this year, Cassie won the Sean O’Brien 50 Mile (post-race interview), a competitive Montrail Ultra Cup event. After dealing with an injury this spring, she’s working her way back into form.
Since jumping into the trail-ultra scene late last year, Olympian Magdalena Boulet (pre-race interview) has been straight up crushing it. In her ultra debut, Magda placed second behind Michele Yates at the 2013 The North Face 50 Mile Endurance Challenge Championships (post-race interview). This year, she’s gone on to win the Way Too Cool 50k in 3:53, Cayuga 50 Mile, and Overlook 50k in 3:55. In September, she took second at the Flagline 50k, the USATF Trail 50k National Championships.
Jodee Adams-Moore (background interview) is quietly having a stellar season. Just this year, she’s won the Red Hot Moab 55k, White River 50 Mile, and Crystal Mountain Skymarathon. She’s also taken second at the Chuckanut 50k, fourth at Lake Sonoma, and sixth at Transvulcania. This all represents a big jump up in cumulative-racing mileage in a season for Jodee, so it’s yet to be seen if she’ll still have fresh-enough legs to run her way to a top-five finish.
An untimely injury has dictated Aliza Lapierre’s limited season. After winning the Mount Mitchell Challenge in February, Aliza held off racing another ultra until taking a close second to Adams-Moore at the White River 50 Mile in late July. She’s since run two more 50k tune-up races, while keeping her year’s focus on Les Templiers. While she might be best known for a third-place and two sixth-place finishes at Western States along with fourths at Leadville (2012) and the TNF 50 Championships (2013), Aliza has long dominated 50-mile racing up and down the East Coast. It’s her bread and butter.
The “European” Ensemble
Núria Picas (pre-race interview) is easily the best known of the women’s international team. When she’s on, she’s incredible. Very few women in the world can run with her on her good days. Just this year, she’s won Transgrancanaria (125k) (post-race interview), Ultra-Trail Mount Fuji (100 miles) (post-race interview), and TNF 100k – Australia along with other regional events. At the end of August, she took second at Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc (post-race interview). Oh, and Picas is the two-time defending Templiers champion. The only thing weighing against her is that she’s raced a ton this year with a handful of DNFs along the way.
Bristish runner Holly Rush has a more limited ultrarunning resume. That said, she took seventh at the Comrades Marathon last year and recently won the 90k UltraVasan trail race.
I’ll admit I didn’t know who Swiss runner Jasmin Nunige was until writing this preview. It turns out she’s won the 78-kilometer Swiss Alpine Marathon five times in the past decade. She also has a second-, third-, and a fourth-place finish at the race. Does anyone have a sense of how she’ll handle the much greater vertical gain at Templiers?
I’m also not too familiar with Poland’s Magdalena Łączak. However, she’s raced well in France before. In 2012, she took sixth at UTMB. This year, she placed third at the Mont Blanc 80k behind only Emelie Forsberg and Anna Frost, while besting Maud Gobert, Federica Boifava, Uxue Fraile, and more.
Maud Gobert (pre-race interview) is the best-known woman of the French squad, as she frequently races competitive trail races. This year, she’s placed fifth at the Trail du Ventoux, 11th at Transvulcania, fourth at the Mont Blanc 80k, and third at Ice Trail Tarentaise. Gobert won Templiers in 2011 and took fourth in 2012. She’s showed strength at similar-length races such as winning the 72k IAU Trail World Championships in 2011 and taking third at the TNF EC 50 Mile Championships in 2012.
Finishing one spot behind Gobert at this year’s Mont Blanc 80k was fellow countrywoman Caroline Chaverot. Earlier this year, she won the MaxiRace and took second at the Trail du Ventoux. Chaverot had a very strong 2013, winning the Mont Blanc 80k, the CCC, and the Endurance Trail des Templiers among many other races.
A Templiers regular, Aurélia Truel will also be representing France. At Les Templiers, she’s twice placed third (2010 and 2013), and she’s also been fifth (2011) and ninth (2009). Truel is also a regular at the IAU Trail World Championships with fourth in 2011 and a second in 2013. Look for her to make more of a name for herself at this year’s Templiers.
Aside from placing sixth at last year’s IAU Trail World Championships (the French women cleaned up!), we have precious little on which to gauge Stéphanie Duc’s potential at Templiers. She’s run at least four other ultras (50 to 70k) over the past few years and has won or taken second at each of them. At one of them, last year’s 57k Trail Edelweiss, she beat Chaverot by 11 minutes to win.
Top Women Not on the Teams
- Juliette Benedicto (France) — 2014 Trail du Ventoux champion
- Claire Dubes (France) — 8th Les Templiers 2013
- Marie Chantal Emonides (Martinique) — 1st Endurance Trail des Templiers 2004, frequently on podium at ultras in Martinique
- Virginie Govignon (France) — 2011 CCC champ, three top 10 finishes at Les Templiers (5th, 6th, 7th)
- Anna Lise Rousset (France) — In 2014, CCC champion, 3rd at Trail du Ventoux, 5th at Transvulcania
- Anne Valero (France) — 4th CCC 2012, 1st Ice Trail Tarentaise 2012
Call for Comments
- Which woman is going to win?
- Which team do you think is the strongest?
- Can you tell us about some of the less-known French or “International” runners?
- If you’ve run Les Templiers, what did you think of the race?