Laukli Wins Again, Takes Victory in 50th Running of Sierre–Zinal


A fine recent article in Outside Online, previewing Saturday’s running of the epochal Sierre–Zinal, noted that only four Americans had won the classic mountain running race held annually in the Swiss Alps since 1974.

After Saturday morning’s contest, add one more name to that list: Sophia Laukli. The American multisport star, who is a member of the U.S. Ski Team and Team Aker Dæhlie for skiing, and a sponsored Salomon athlete for trail running, picked up her third podium finish in as many races in this year’s Golden Trail World Series. In June, she won the Marathon du Mont Blanc in Chamonix; in July, she was second in the DoloMyths Run in the Italian Dolomites.

Sophia Laukli wins / ©GoldenTrailSeries® – Sierre-Zinal – @the.adventure.bakery

Saturday morning, racing between the mountain villages of Sierre and Zinal in the canton (a Swiss administrative subdivision) of Valais, Laukli added a win at Sierre–Zinal to her already glittering race résumé. Laukli ran well within the women’s lead pack off the start, but was also “only” third at Tignousa, roughly halfway through the 31-kilometer race that gains 2,200 meters of elevation. But she moved up consistently over the race’s second half, ultimately taking the win by just over four minutes.

Laukli’s winning time was 2:53:17. Joyce Muthoni Njeru and Philaries Jeruto Kisang, both of Kenya, were second and third, respectively. Kisang took silver in the vertical kilometer race at this year’s World Mountain Running Championships (just ahead of — skiing tie-in here — Logan Diekmann’s betrothèd, Grayson Murphy), in case the livestream and €300,000 in total prize money and comped travel costs for the trail running series left you with any doubt as to the depth of field here.

Anyway, back to Laukli.

“Everything I did today worked out and I’m mega proud,” the American skier/runner told race organizers after her finish. “It was really hard, but I had a lot of fun. I knew I had to take it easy at the start and I pushed hard on the climb without overdoing it. I think it’s the first race where I’ve managed to be tactical and it worked!”

Sophia Laukli (middle, red vest) on course / ©GoldenTrailSeries® – Sierre-Zinal – @the.adventure.bakery

Four races into the six-race Golden Trail World Series, Laukli is now comfortably in the lead in the overall standings, with 588 points total. Miao Yao of China is second (463 points), and Theres Leboeuf of Switzerland third (457 points). Racing wraps up with Pikes Peak and the Mammoth Trail Fest, both in this country, in September. There is then a bonus/series finale race for those athletes who qualify (hint: Laukli will qualify), Il Golfo Dell’Isola in Italy, in October.

For the time being, though, Laukli is presumably back to Oslo and her rollerskis. Not bad cross-training, apparently, for one of the best trail runners in the world.

I don’t think I’m young enough to call this race photo “lit” without trafficking in the deeply cringe, but so help me, mountain running in Europe looks lit. There’s another photo I didn’t use here with more noisemakers in the background that looked even cooler. Sophia Laukli / ©GoldenTrailSeries® – Sierre-Zinal – Martina Valmassoi

Also of note on Saturday, Alayna Sonnesyn, who skis domestically for SMS, finished 56th in the elite women’s field, roughly 49 minutes behind Laukli with a time of 3:42.18.


Results: searchable online | PDF

Full race replay:

— Gavin Kentch

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