Montane Tor des Géants: Pre-start and Day 1 (Saturday and Sunday)
Location: Courmayeur, Italy
Date: 10 September 2016
It is the day before the notoriously brutal Montane sponsored Tor des Géants begins. The Italian town of Courmayeur nestled at the foot of the southern side of Mont Blanc in the Alps is buzzing. Ultra distance runners, spectators and supporters, volunteers and press from around the world have travelled to this picturesque location for the race start at 10:00 (ITA time) on 11 September. The atmosphere is bustling – well organised, but busy. Friends greet friends, new friends are made and lots of pasta is eaten.
Image: #TeamMontane on the start line of the TDG. From left to right: Julio Cernuda Aldecoa, Jenn Gaskell, Ari Veltman, Petra Mücková
RACE DAY 1 (Sunday)
Location: Courmayeur, Italy
Date: 11 September 2016
The day that everyone has been waiting for!
There is glorious sunshine this morning in Courmayeur. Friends and family pack out the town in celebratory, multi-coloured style ready to give the runners a good send off. There are cowbells aplenty.
Athletes are tense, having prepared for this race for months on end. Israeli athlete Ari Veltman from #TeamMontane has been training for the Tor des Géants for three years and is nervously counting down the time to the start on his facebook page (which he is using to post live updates from the race course).
At 09:45 (ITA time), organisers gather everyone – 770 competitors – on the start line for a race briefing, then at 10:00, the countdown begins and the runners are unleashed to begin their 205 mile / 330km ‘Tour of the Giants’.
Gianluca Galeati (2nd in 2015’s TDG) led the race straight through La Thuile (11.5 miles / 18.6km), through Deffeyes Refuge (at 2,500m altitude), over Passo Alto (2,857m) and Col de la Crosatie (2,829m) arriving at the 1st life station at Valgrisenche, 31 miles / 50km into the race, at 17:35 with a large lead on chasers Eric Breton and Nahuel Passerat. He holds the lead until Rhêmes (41 miles / 65.6km). However between Rhêmes and Eaux Rousses a chasing group, including #TeamMontane athlete Julio Cernuda Aldecoa, catches up with him.
Over the first 24 hours, racers face changeable mountain weather, with beating sun, rain and low temperatures as the sun descends into the evening.
Our #TeamMontane ultra runners are looking strong. All passed successfully through Valgrisenche. Spanish athlete Julio Cernuda Aldecoa (race number #10) is together with the front of race protagonists, with Italian Oliviero Bosatelli, who, at the end of the day, took the lead from Galeati.
Czech Petra Mücková (race number #1450) arrived at Valgrisenche at 20:57 on Sunday in the rain and after a short rest and refuel, powered on. She is currently in 101st place.
Brit Jenn Gaskell (race number #1264) is sticking to a strategy of holding a steady pace. So while the tracking shows her lower down the rankings, her consistency is beginning to pay off as she begins to move up, overtaking runners. She arrived at Valgrisenche at 23:01 on Sunday, took a shorter rest than many other racers and continued on into the night.
Israeli Ari Veltman (race number #1670) is having an incredible start. He has been building up to the TDG for three years, starting out initially to lose weight and become more active, but seeing his journey well and truly transcend these primary aims. He is showing real determination, arriving at Valgrisenche at 20:23 on Sunday, just before Petra. At the time of writing, he is currently in 84th place.
Of the 770 competitors that crossed the start line, 692 remain in the race at the end of day 1. The TDG has a near 40% retirement rate and day 2 (12 September) is considered to be the hardest for the elite runners, who are aiming to complete the 205 mile / 330km course on Wednesday.
Watch the highlights from Day 1 below:
- Read more about Ari Veltman’s incredible journey here
- Read more about #TeamMontane TDG athletes here
- Track competitors live here
- View the TDG Flickr photo gallery from pre-race and race day 1 here
- View Montane’s TDG photo gallery from pre-race here
- Watch Montane’s TDG race start video here
- Watch the TDG daily highlights from race day 1 here