Tor des Géants Experience – Debbie
Words and Imagery by Debbie Martin-Consani
“I doubt I will do many things in life that could possibly compare to the Tor des Géants. It was an amazing experience. There were moments I felt I was just torturing myself, but I never wanted to stop.”
This was the dream. This is what I signed up for. And nothing short of a limb falling off would have made me want to stop. I had only given myself one shot to get this right. The build-up to the start line was bad enough, as I was highly-strung for weeks. The fear was quite overwhelming. I wasn’t bothered about the distance of 330km, that was a piece of piss. Nor even the vertical gain of 31,000 metres. It’s advertised as 24km but everyone knows that’s just adding up the peaks. It was my general well-being that concerned me. I get so delirious and incoherent during ultras. Not in a zen-like trance woo-woo way. I mean completely off my tits, stumbling about kinda way. I could train myself to deal with race profile, but not the fatigue and sleep deprivation that came with it. It was to be a great exercise in self-care, something which is not my forte.
I was lucky enough to get race place through my support from Montane. I vividly remember my email correspondence when Montane first considered sponsoring this event. Although the event had the reputation as one of the world’s toughest and it was a great match for the brand, there was just no way I was tough enough to do it. It just wasn’t for me. The same way I was never going to do the WHWR (3 times) or Spartathlon (tick) or 24-hour running (6 of them). Let’s just say I lack commitment to my non-causes.
So I made it to the start line and started to calm down. Just get it done, that’s all. I had no aspirations about time and position. With 10 years ultra-running experience, it has been a long time since not finishing was my biggest fear.
I doubt I will do many things in life that could possibly compare to the Tor des Géants. It was an amazing experience. There were moments I felt I was just torturing myself, but I never wanted to stop. The drive to finish overpowered everything. Prior to the race, I always thought this was going to be a personal challenge and a solo adventure, but I was never alone. From the people I met in the race, the supporters out on the course, the volunteers who sorted me out when I got in a right mess, to the dot watchers back home, so many people played a big part in my journey. I’m truly thankful to everyone.
The aftermath wasn’t as painful as expected, but the swelling I had was immense. I can’t quite describe the fatigue and hunger I had in the week after. It was like having necropsy and worms, whilst my head was in La La Land.
Maybe one day I will return. For me, it’s one of those races you need to do once to learn how to deal with the enormity of it and then go back and approach it differently. I’ve never had to deal with sleep deprivation before, but I know now why it’s a recognised form of torture. Managing sleep comes with experience. Despite only ever wanting to finish, I’m over-thinking all the things I did wrong. But it is what it is. I’m a Géant. That’s what.
Special thanks to Montane for planting this seed, the opportunity to be a part of something truly magnificent and all the great kit.
Read the full report on Debbie’s blog.
Learn more about Debbie here.
You can also hear more from Debbie on the British Ultra Running Podcast