RUN247 / Running News / US star Sophia Laukli OUT of Zegama as injury further hampers GTWS title defence

US star Sophia Laukli OUT of Zegama as injury further hampers GTWS title defence

Katherine Brook
Trail running writer
Published on
Endure 24
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The reigning 2023 Golden Trail World Series champion, USA favourite Sophia Laukli will miss out on another race in this year’s Golden Trail World Series, as an ongoing knee injury prevents her from taking to the start line at the Zegama-Aizkorri race set to take place in the Basque Country on May 26.

It’s a blow to the American’s campaign to defend her 2023 title, having already spent the first two races – Kobe Trail and Four Sisters Mountain Race, on the side lines. Though in a classy show of camaraderie, Sophia was out on the course in Kobe, Japan helping her fellow runners at the aid stations.


Still figuring it out

Speaking ahead of the season opener in Japan in April, Laukli cited a perhaps overly swift transition back to running after a successful ski season as the potential route of the problem. “I wanted to get into running super fast and I think I didn’t realise that’s easier said than done and have had some issues since.”

Sophia Laukli wins the women's race at the 2023 Sierre-Zinal
2023 saw Laukli make a smooth transition from skiing to running, but 2023 has proved trickier as an ongoing knee injury keeps her from the GTWS start lines. [Photo credit: Marco Gulberti]

“I did manage this balance of skiing and running last year but I think I need to put more emphasis on my transitions… The fact that I’m not racing now means that I didn’t figure it out.”

Title defence in the balance?

A firm favourite before the season started, Sophia will now need to compete in a minimum of four of the next five races in the series: Marathon du Mont-Blanc – which she won last year – Sierre-Zinal, Tatra Sky Marathon, and Headlands and Mammoth Trail Fest, in the US. In order to qualify for the Grand Final – recently announced to be hosted in Switzerland.

With Maude Mathys looking back on top form, and strong performances so far from the likes of Sara Alonso and Joyce Njeru, the overall title is all to play for. But despite this latest setback, Laukli shouldn’t be underestimated. In last year’s Golden Trail World Series, Sophia burst onto the trail running scene and surprised everyone with her incredible strength. Winning the Marathon du Mont-Blanc 12 minutes ahead of her nearest rival, in 4:12:39, she also took the top spot at the ‘most technical race’ in the circuit, at Strada, Norway.

From cross country skier to GTWS winner

Before last year’s success at the GTWS, Sophia was relatively unknown in the trail running world. But rather recognised for her incredible achievements in cross country skiing – competing at the 2022 Winter Olympic Games in the USA Cross Country Skiing team.

Laukli became a dominant force in the 2023 World Series race, with notable wins and a third place finish in the Grand Final accumulating enough points to claim the overall title. With another DNS for the Golden Trail World Series, all eyes will be on Marathon du Mont-Blanc at the end of June where we home to see the exciting USA athlete back in top form.

Katherine Brook
Written by
Katherine Brook
A copywriter and journalist by profession Katherine is a passionate trail runner and often to be found challenging herself across the UK & Europe. 2024 will see her take on a triathlon challenge.


In episode 1 of our new SBRX Show we sit down with ultra runners and coaches Kim and Jayson Cavill to get their take on the Barkley Marathons and triathlon & trail running gear reviews, training tips and more

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