Tor Des Géants is a single-stage mountain run easily reduced to numbers – 330km, 24,000m D+, 200 miles, 80,000 feet, 850 starters, 6 life bases, time – but that is not the story of the Tor at all. It is a beautiful adventure, composed of a number of steep climbs, high passes, and sharp descents that will all quite happily break you if you’re not in The Zone.
With a field that at some points must have been spread across 150km, everyone’s experience must be sharply different, however much there may also be in common. With finishers being spread from 200km right to the finish line when this year’s race was ultimately shut down on the morning of the 4th day because of weather hazards, a 2015 ‘finish’ will mean different things for different people. For me, the 205km mark was not deep enough in at all, and I hope to return in 2016 for the full 200 miles.
Even with the premature closure of the race, it was still my longest time on feet and at 15,000m D+ it was also the greatest amount of climbing and descending I have yet done. But I wish we’d been able to finish what we started. Most of us were utterly psyched for it.
I first heard about the TDG in 2011 when I met Swiss-American Beat Jegerlehner (pronounced ‘Dingle Manhammer’). A mutual friend put us together on a hire car booking from Salt Lake City to the Slick Rock Ultra a few hours away in the Moab Desert, as we were hitting the same airport just 5 minutes apart. Back then, as I prepared for my first 100-miler, the idea that people were running 200-milers filled me with awe and some envy. With such a focus on the distance I didn’t even tune into the elevation gain – a whopping 24,000 metres for an average gradient of 14% across the entire course – until finally entering the run of a lifetime earlier this year.
Since then, it has meant training based entirely in the pursuit of increasingly longer steep bits, repeated. Continue reading