Notes on my 2018 tor des geants attempt
The man from a plateau has horizontal vision. He walks and runs horizontallly. He thinks horizontally. In order to face the Tor des Géants, your thinking needs courage. It needs to climb summits and then leap into the precipice: it has to be an excessive thought. Blessed are those who have the capacity for such thinking: the Tor des Géants will make them happy. —Giavanni Storti
I had an unlucky fall during early morning on day 4, nearly 200K and 72 hours into the TOR when early morning dew covered the rocky terrain and boulders. I had the wrong shoes on – needed more grippy – and paid dearly for the tactical error, slipping backward and falling on my back against a jagged granite rock.
The deep contusion to my lower back was enough to slow down my climbing abilities such that I calculated I’d never make the cutoffs. So I did the smart thing and withdrew to save my back for another day. My TOR ended.
Extremely disappointing as I was having a great race. But fortune ebbs and flows and I’ve learned over the years to embrace the experiences, cherish the memories and gain strength and wisdom from misfortune. And so it is and will be. I’ll return.
The mountains around the world are so diverse, created as the earth’s guardian of land against sea and wind. She is majestic, mighty and elusive, allowing access only to those hearty, bold, persistent and respectful. Otherwise, she’s to be admired from afar but never touched or discovered.
My love affair with Mother Mountain has been lifelong. My passion for discovering her inner beauty more recent. It draws me, maybe at times too much, too risky. Is it all a ruse she projects to attract you only to eventually ruin you? Climbers, gliders, hikers, mountaineers, alpinists – and yes ultra runners – are all her easy prey.
I don’t know the answer yet. May never. But I feel most alive when at her doorstep, within her bosom and will continue to seek, discover and probe her – as it leads to my own enlightenment.
TdG is indeed a very personal journey. It is what it’s called – the TOR. Not a race per se – but a transcending.
The setting is stunning.
The difficulty unearthly.
The people generous, genuine.
The environment serine.
The food ridiculous.
The experience, life altering.
I WILL RETURN…
Thank you to my constant training partner and trail brother Don Freeman for your willingness to traverse this journey with me. We’ve both gained so much and I value our friendship above all.
To my intrepid French crew, Emilie, JC and Claire, how can I begin to articulate my gratitude for your unselfish commitment of time, effort, sleeplessness and love that you’ve showered upon me? It moves me deeply and I will pay it forward to you and others in our mountain running community in the future. Thank you.
And to Donna who cared for Don by plying him with Big Macs and Chicken Nuggets, you are an extraordinary human.
Thank you to Alessandra and Franco for your warm and kind invitation to experience your magnificent TdG.
Lastly, to the love of my life, I know my passion for the mountains is unnerving. Yet you support my need to explore and journey because you know it makes me whole and hopefully a better person. There is no deeper love than to enable a person to be their best. I am so, so grateful. I love you.
What i learned
1. Technical running.
Train more in technical terrain. Need to become efficient, relaxed, one with the rocks.
2. Sound sleep.
music for all sleeps to block noise (Nano)
improve my French 🤓🇫🇷 (having a French team was marvelous – expert team extraordinaire. But at times we struggled to communicate, especially in times of need and stress. When we are tired – trying to communicate in foreign language is tougher 😉
4. Nutrition. CBEAD
Need to do as Euros do at aid – sit, relax, eat many quality calories, drink water, electrolyte-induced mixes, tea, cafe. I rushed, ate quickly (as we are taught to do in American ultrarunning). Need to eat in-between aid stations as well. Can’t survive on water alone – too many hours. Constantly be eating and drinking (CBEAD).
5. Become One With the Mountains.
I was running most of TdG surrounded by French and Italians. They behaved so natural. The way they moved efficiently, ate plentifully, never stressed, amazing grinding – no stopping for rest breaks for Euros! I admire the ease which they move. Very NOT American. Need to keep working on my mountain juju
6. Living Arrangement
Inn. Van. Car. Ground. Couch. Riffugio. AirBnB. Friend’s home. Time spent living with my French crew in their van and home was so relaxing and a highlight. Need to be more planful and consistent in future to assure sound rest.
Dialed in – do again
1. Monthly mileage
2. Altitude training
3. Vertical training – up and down
4. Efficient walking
6. Preview course – cover more technical terrain