Race: Tor Des Geants -Finisher 2018. 340km with 31.000m+ elev. (211 miles with 101.706 feet+).
Runner: Anouk B
Results: 900 starters. 20th Lady. 212 Overall.
Date: September 2018
Location: Aosta Valley- start/finish: Courmayeur. A loop.
To be able to say you are a ‘Geant’ is a very prestigious title in the ultra-running community and after I did this race I completely understand. To me, whether you arrived first or the last person before the cut off, you deserve this title double and square. This race is insanity on steroids. There is nothing like it out there, this is about setting your pain cave limits to another level you didn’t even know existed in your wildest dreams. A combination of physical and mental strength that have to work together.
But this too is a race, were people around you close and far play the biggest role in getting the job done. Never have I felt so much love and support and realized that a finisher result would absolutely not have been possible without their support both close and from afar. The volunteers were just amazing, nothing was too much and their enthusiasm was contagious, the support back home with the million messages and voice messages to keep spurring me on was needed in the many low moments you have to fight through, and then with the fellow runners you share the route and journey with and to feel each others respect makes you not want to quit. You want to be a Geant. You owe it to yourself and the big training but also to all those around you who have given up something for you to participate with you on this journey.
I say that but still I had some extreme dark moments.
The scenery is beautiful, but also very diverse in the sense that you end up going from a village in the valley to all the way to the top, tag a couple of peaks there and then go all the way back down. so you end up passing a few villages, some farms, grasslands and then back to the peaks with relative technical, screetchy loose rocks, or boulder hopping fields.
I wouldn’t say the trails are technical, of course here and there some nasty bits, but the hard part is mainly how relentlessly steep it is both up and down. From 150km-200km there is a very difficult section- 24hrs in the average for the 50km, so go figure! and a lot of people will drop out after that but the good news is that although of course the elevation remains, the trails improve for the last 100km and that did really help – I would say this is the most important knowledge to know about this race.
What I liked:
- I most liked the amount of people participated: 859 starters and about 450 finishers. It made that the you always saw someone out there but it still was a very spread out field so you could feel the space of the mountains and be there on your own.
- The volunteers at all the aid stations, ringing cow bells and making noise every time you walked into their aid station. You can tell that each it’s year a group of friends that take over that aid station and they look forward to managing it.
- The high peaks scenery was just spectacular
Aspects I didn’t like as much:
- The tracking!!! The live tracking is rubbish and that gets very frustrating when it’s such a long race – also I wanted to know how far in front or behind my competition was and that was difficult to find out.
- The aid station’s food. Every aid station had the exact same – so 5/6 day non-stop the same food is very boring, plus the one hot meal they had was just plain pasta with tomato sauce. Also the drink choice was very limited to coke, tea, coffee, sparkling water and water. Anyway, at the end of the day you are so spaced out that it is just about putting in calories – who cares what it is; when looking at the table I only saw calories counting and that’s what went into my mouth.
Lesson I learned:
- The classic, I should have looked after my blisters from the very beginning. My feet became practically a case study for the medics. It gave me the most pain I ever felt those blisters, and I am sure I won’t be able to wear shoes for at least two weeks.
- I am so impressed by people I was with during day 2 and who finished 20 hrs in front of me – and so too I have seen a lot of people I was with and who finished 20 hrs after me. Consistency is key and it’s not about gunning it out of the start line.
It can be anything and everything. We were lucky and had good weather, almost a bit too hot, so I had to carry a lot of water, but equally in your mandatory equipment you have to carry ice crampons!
Just a nice finisher jumper- but that is worth gold ????
I recommend of course doing it, but I honestly would only recommend it if you know what you are putting your name in for…. you want to be a finisher, it’s a lot of time and money commitment if you just wanna see how far you are going to get. There are plenty of other amazing races out there that are as tough but shorter.
But that feeling crossing that finish line; there is nothing, absolutely nothing like it.
Let it TOR!