Location: Courmayeur, Italy. Date: Sunday 10 September 2017
The 8th edition of the beautiful yet brutal Montane Tor des Géants (TDG) is finally here! It is Sunday 10 September and athletes, families and supporters, Volontors, race marshals, presenters, organisers, spectators, safety teams, sponsors, photographers and more have descended on Courmayeur at the southern side of Mont Blanc in anticipation.
According to the official count, 867 competitors will line up at 10am on the start line in the centre of the bustling Italian town. Combined with the inaugural Tot Dret (a shorter, sharper format of the TDG starting from Gressoney Saint Jean on Wednesday 13 September), a grand total of 1,241 racers will take part, representing 66 nations across the world.
Both races will finish in Courmayeur, making for an electric finale. TDG athletes will be battling to complete 205 miles / 330km in a cut-off time of 150 hours, while Tot Dret racers will have a mere 38 hours to navigate 80 miles / 130km.
In the TDG there is strong competition. Winner of the 2016 men’s race, Oliviero Bosatelli, returns to defend his title. From looking at the race roster, organisers predict big things from Lionel Trivel (FR), Marco Gazzola (CH), Javier Dominguez-Ledo (ES), Jean Claude Mathieu (FR), Jules-Henri Gabioud (CH), Franco Collé (IT) and Gianluca Galeati (IT).
Women’s 2016 champion Lisa Borzani is also ready to see off rivals. She will have similarly strong competition from Silvia Trigueros Garrote (ES), Stephanie Case (PS), Scilla Tonetti (IT) and Marina Plavan (IT).
Our own #TeamMontane athletes are primed and ready too. Petra Mücková (CZ; race no 66), Debbie Martin-Consani (GB; race no 1267), Kevin Hadfield (US; race no 1038), Stefano Gregoretti (IT; race no 1292) and Kota Toriumi (JP; race number 1060) are all excited and nervous simultaneously for the race to begin.
“I am very excited and nervous…petrified. Mostly petrified. It’s the first time I’ve gone over 30 hours of running. But I’m very much looking forward to it, I’ve heard great things about the race.” Debbie Martin-Consani
“I’m a finisher from last year, but I feel like I will do this race for the first time, because we have different conditions. I think the weather will be more difficult and I feel so nervous, the same as last year! I know when I start the route it will be awesome and I will love it. Wish me luck!” Petra Mücková
“I feel excited to start. I’ve been twiddling my thumbs the last two weeks waiting for tomorrow, so a lot of anticipation and I feel pretty good! Should be a good time” Kevin Hadfield
“I’m here for my first TDG. I hope the weather conditions are good for the next few days, because the weather here, like in other environments, plays a very big role and can make a difference in this race…Despite the fact that we are almost 800 runners, we are completely alone in this beautiful environment.” Stefano Gregoretti
After the rain of Saturday, there is relief as Sunday welcomes blue skies with a few clouds. Come 10:20am, cheering crowds line the streets of Courmayeur to send the runners off. After a countdown to the theme tune of the Pirates of the Caribbean, the race begins! Starting from 1,224m, the first Col (Col Arp) takes contestants to 2,571m, before descending to La Thuile at 1,458m. Another climb up through Rifugio Deffeyes, then further to Passo Alto at 2,857m is the next challenge. A second Col (Col Crosatie, 2,829m), is around the corner, then a descent to the first lifestation at Valgrisenche at 31 miles / 50km in.
The first through is Franco Collé at 17:30. He is closely followed by Javier Dominguez-Ledo, Peter Kienzl, Joe Grant, Michele Quagliaroli and more. Runners are still tightly packed at this stage. Most spend no more than 10-15 minutes at Valgrisenche before continuing on the TDG rollercoaster. Up Col Fenêtre (2,854m), down to Rhêmes (1,738m), back on up to Col Entrelor (3,002m), descent to Eaux Rousses (1,654m). At Rhêmes, two runners have pulled away slightly. Collé is still in pole position at 20:11…but Dominguez-Ledo is only 1 minute behind him. By the time they are recorded at Eaux Rousses, Dominguez-Ledo has made his move, clocking in 2 minutes ahead of Collé at 22:54.
The first of our #TeamMontane runners, Kota Toriumi, registers at Valgrisenche at 18:49, followed by Rhêmes at 22:25. He is currently positioned in 31st place overall! He is followed by Kevin Hadfield, who appears to be taking a steadier pace, arriving at the lifestation at 20:13, leaving just under an hour later. By midnight, Kevin is comfortably on his way to Rhêmes and placing 82nd.
Petra Mücková is making a strong start in the ladies category. She cruises through the first checkpoint in 18th (ladies category), reaching Valgrisenche at 21:51, resting and re-fuelling for approx. 30 minutes. Meanwhile, Debbie Martin-Consani takes a totally different approach. Pacing herself over the first section, she gradually cranks up the heat. Arriving at the lifestation at 22:18 and remaining for about 30 minutes also, her focus appears to be on keeping steady and maintaining her speed.
Finally, Stegano Gregoretti reaches Valgrisenche between Petra and Debbie, at 22:02, resting up for approx. 40 minutes before heading out into the night and towards Rhêmes
At the end of day 1, there are 778 competitors remaining in the race, with 89 withdrawals. With day 2 (11 September) considered the hardest day, how many more will succumb to the beautiful yet brutal Montane Tor des Géants?
DAY 1 VIDEO HIGHLIGHTS
To celebrate the 8th edition of the Montane Tor des Géants, we are giving you FREE EXPRESS DELIVERY on all Montane orders for the duration of the race. Ends Sunday 17 September 2017.