The Golden Trail World Series has a clear mission: to contribute to the development of trail running by making it attractive and visible to the general public. But how? By creating one of the most beautiful sports shows in the world, with the best athletes, in the most iconic of mountain arenas. At Sidas, we aim to become one of the major players in this discipline. So that runners forget about their feet and focus solely on the pleasure of running. The partnership we have just signed with the Golden Trail therefore makes sense.
François Duvillard, CEO of Sidas Company, and Greg Vollet, founder of the GTWS, each answer 5 questions to explain how this new team is preparing to push the idea of this iconic circuit even further, on the eve of its 4th edition.
François, what are the reasons that led Sidas to become a partner of the Golden Trail World Series? How does this fit in with your brand strategy?
Sidas was born in the mountains in 1975, when three instructors wanted to offer customised foot comfort solutions to skiers. Since then, the company has gradually moved down from its native peaks to the plains. The aim is to expand the target group to include all sports enthusiasts, from those who ski to those who run on the road. But between the tracks and the asphalt, there is trail running. Trail running is the perfect link between our historical core business and where we want to go: road running. This is why we want to become a major player in this fast-growing discipline. And what better way to do this than to partner with the world's largest trail circuit?
Why did you specifically choose this tour and not another one?
The very punchy and fun format of the GTWS also appealed to us. It makes trail running accessible! It makes you want to put on your sneakers and try it out up there! Finally, its international and forward-looking nature, while at the same time highlighting its historical European roots, alongside such long-running events as the Mont Blanc Marathon and Sierre-Zinal, convinced us.
What is Sidas' mission with trail running? What promise are you making to the runners?
Our mission is extremely clear: to allow runners to forget about their feet and focus solely on the pleasure of running. This is achieved by offering a range of adapted solutions from insoles to socks and specific protections. Sidas' goal is to help runners run long, comfortably and efficiently. Therein lie the three main benefits of our products: comfort, performance and injury prevention.
Why is this promise of comfort and performance appropriate for GTWS athletes? And how do you intend to deliver it?
We see comfort as a chain. A chain made up of four links: the shoe, the sock, the sole and the care given to the feet. What matters is how powerful and robust this chain is! This is what will lead you to performance. If one link is weaker than another, then the whole chain of comfort, and therefore of performance, collapses. The idea is to offer athletes the right sock and the right insole, in order to avoid friction, blisters and the collapse of the arch of the foot that characterizes a tired foot.
After a rather discreet arrival in the trail world, it would seem that you have decided to bang your fist on the table and to make your desire to become a major player very clear. Does the partnership with Team Sidas-Matryx also go in this direction?
Of course! We really want to launch a global dynamic of the group towards trail running and actively contribute to the development of this discipline. This winter, we became the main co-partner of Team Sidas-Matryx, a professional team of the youngest and most talented in the sport. And this, for 3 years, until 2025. Why? Because performance and competition run through our veins. And also because we are convinced that by innovating and validating our technologies at the highest level, we will be able to pass them on to the rest of the population.
Originally, in its early stages, the GTWS project looked like mission impossible. Can you tell us why and how you finally created it?
We've been working on it since 2015, for a first edition that finally took place in 2018. The initial idea, the one that has guided us since the beginning like a North Star, is to promote and develop this sport that we are passionate about in the widest possible way. This is done by making it attractive to the general public through spectacular events and visible through massive broadcasting. Today, on the eve of the 4th edition, we can congratulate ourselves for going the right way. There is a real sense of enthusiasm from the community, and even beyond. The next step, the main one, the one that will totally decompartmentalise our discipline and take it beyond its niche, is still to come: broadcasting on television. The aim is to follow a trajectory similar to that of the biathlon. Trail running has all the potential!
What are the ingredients that make the GTWS so unique?
The promise is simple: to create the most beautiful trail show in the world. The equation is simple: we need the best actors and the most beautiful theatres. The Golden Trail therefore brings together the best athletes on the planet and makes them compete in legendary events over distances of less than 42 km. We could be criticised for a lack of coherence between this elitist dimension and our desire to make sport accessible, but in reality, it's all about the message, the values and our ability to inspire. Our mission is to make people dream so that they will want to try it!
What are the developments that will soon allow the GTWS to pass the expected milestone of television and therefore the trail to become a popular sport with the general public?
We have the wind in our sails, it's obvious! But there is still something missing in order to be shown on TV. The first pitfall is purely technical. We have to film in steep places and dead zones where there is no 4G network. This necessarily complicates the broadcasting. It would be nice if Elon Musk would work on it, but he is apparently very busy at the moment! The other challenge in making the Golden Trail product perfectly telegenic is the format. 4 hours of racing is a bit long for TV. We therefore need to find a way of condensing the broadcast of these events into two hours.
Let's go back to the partnership between Sidas and the Golden Trail World Series: how did it come about? How does it make sense?
For me, this partnership made sense in three ways. Firstly, by the fact that Salomon is about to market soles dedicated to trail running developed by Sidas.
Secondly, by the recurrent use of foot comfort solutions such as the insole by our elite athletes. This is a product that is not well known because it is unfortunately hidden in the shoe, but which would benefit from being known. At the highest level, many runners have realised the non-negligible gain in performance that this can bring. The last point of consensus is Sidas' deep desire to contribute to the development of the sport and to be present in the community. It is not just a question of injecting money but of supporting this transformation. The co-partnership with Team Sidas-Matryx is a clear demonstration of this!
When you take off your GTWS organizer hat, you become an athlete too. You even have the reputation of being one of the best downhillers in the world, if not the best... With this in mind, what can you tell us about the soles? Do you use any? If so, for what benefits?
Whenever I plan to put some commitment into a run, I put soles into my shoes. For two reasons. To prevent overheating which occurs very quickly under the metatarsals if I don't have insoles; and to gain finesse and precision in my stance. In my last competition, in Madeira, as soon as I crossed the finish line, I realised that I hadn't thought about my feet once during the whole race. I was able to focus entirely on my pleasure and my performance. Any runner who has ever had foot problems will tell you that this is a privilege.
Rediscover the webserie Chasing Dreams on the 2021 season!
The 3 highlights of the season not to be missed, by Greg Vollet:
1/ "It's impossible to miss Zegama. Because 'Zegama is Zegama'. Chapter 1 of the season on this Basque event made famous thanks to its popular fervour. The climb to Aizkorri, where almost 15,000 incandescent spectators gather, is worth the diversions alone. Kilian Jornet will have to face an unprecedented level of competition, with the arrival of some Kenyans in the discipline. In the women's category, a historic fight between Nienke Brinkman, the 'new cannibal', and Maude Mathys, who is simply undefeated, has been announced."
2/ "Sierre-Zinal, like every year, will be the 'flagship race' of the summer. In the men's race, the hunt for the event record is on and the usual outsiders in the women's race have a great opportunity. I am thinking in particular of Anaïs Sabrié, from Team Sidas-Matryx, who has proved how well she can perform on this course and who could, in the absence of Nienke Brinkman and Maude Mathys, claim her first victory on the circuit!" »
3/ "Finally, the final, on the Portuguese island of Madeira, in a format inspired by the Tour de France. The 30 best female and male athletes will be gathered at the start of a 5-day stage competition. For a total of 100 km and nearly 7,000 m of positive altitude difference, in a blend of the most spectacular things trail running has to offer."