For the very first time in its history, the Golden Trail World Series is heading to Asia for an exciting trip to Japan and China. The first stage of the season: the Kobe Trail, a 21-kilometre course with 2,109 metres of vertical elevation in a “flower-race” format, like the 2023 Grand Final. The athletes will be running 4 different loops and passing through the start/finish zone 5 times, much to the delight of the fans. Who will set the pace to win the first race of the season? Find out on 20th April!


The times to beat:


Men’s record: new course

Women’s record: new course

Check out all the race specifications HERE

Here’s a rundown of the favourites for the Kobe Trail, 2024 GTWS 1st stage:

The women’s line-up

She won the 2023 GTWS, so obviously Sophia Laukli (USA – Salomon) is coming as the big favourite in this first race of the season. But the American will have her work cut out for her with the return of Maude Mathys (CHE – Asics), the 2020 Golden Trail Championship winner and 2021 GTWS winner. Will she be back to her peak potential after so many months of injury? Malen Osa (ESP – Salomon) will also been keen to shine in her first race of the season after finishing 4th at the 2023 GTWS and getting several stunning 4th places in her rookie season. This will also be the first race of the year for Allie McLaughlin (USA – Hoka) who excelled at the 2022 Grand Final in Madeira by winning two of the stages in front of the formidable Nienke Brinkman. Last year, Daniela Oemus (GER – Nike Trail) proved her early season power by winning Zegama, will she be able to do the same in Japan? We’ll also be keeping an eye on women such as Grayson Murphy (USA – Saucony), Joyce Njeru (KEN – Atletica Saluzzo), Sara Alonso (ESP – Asics), Sylvia Nordskar (NOR – Hoka) and Júlia Font (ESP – Brooks).

The men’s line-up

Finishing in a mighty 2nd place in the 2023 GTWS, and after a superb season on various Golden Trail Series races last year, Patrick Kipngeno (KEN – Run2gether) is the favourite for this first race of the season. But he will be up against his compatriot teammate Philemon Kiriago (KEN – Run2gether), who proved at Sierre-Zinal that he could win the most prestigious race on the planet. These two will have to watch their backs because Elhousine Elazzaoui(MAR – Nnormal) who, after winning the 2023 Dolomyths Run, showed the world what he was capable of winning the Grand Final in Italy in front of the world’s top athletes. Will the Moroccan land in Asia with the same goals? Roberto Delorenzi (CHE – Brooks) just keeps getting stronger every year. He may have finished 6th last year, but he showed he can fight for podium slots by finishing 2nd at the 2023 Dolomyths Run and 3rd in Mammoth Lakes. Next up are Bart Przedwojewski (POL – Salomon), Daniel Pattis (ITA – Brooks), Álex García (ESP – Brooks), Cesare Maestri(ITA – Nike Trail), Miquel Corbera (ESP – Brooks) and the Japanese runner Ruy Ueda (JAP – Ruy).