2013 Tor des Geants Race Report

Stats

  • Total Distance: 207 miles (333 km)
  • Elevation Gain: 78,000 ft+
  • Overall Time: 142 hours (251st place out of 708 runners)
  • Hours Slept: 6-7 hours

In April 2009, I finished the Big Sur marathon never thinking 4 years later I’d be training for the longest most difficult mountain trail race in the world. I still can’t believe when I look back over the past 4 years, that I’ve been fortunate enough to have been able to run through some of the most beautiful mountain wilderness in the world, traveling to Brazil, Lake Tahoe (Twice), the Northern California coast, and now the Italian Alps. Ultra races have allowed me to meet friends and see some of the most breathtakingly memorable images I’ve ever experienced. The beauty of the nature I’ve experienced and the personal bonds made with others during my experiences running for the past 4 years have given me memories and stories that I will be able to remember and tell for the rest of my life. I’m eternally thankful for these experiences and adventures that I’ve been so lucky to have survived and completed, that the Tor des Geants served as my “retirement” race. There is no (single stage) foot race in the world, longer and harder than the Tor des Geants, therefore if I was able to complete this race I’d truly feel as if this would be my “last” race. “Last” meaning any other competitive race I’d do in the future would be less physically and mentally demanding than the TDG. I arrived in Courmayeur, Italy on September 6th, beyond happy to enjoy every minute of my “retirement” experience.

Almost two years ago, I randomly stumbled across the Tor des Geants online, but I never in my wildest dreams thought I’d soon be participating in this wonderful international event. Repeatedly summiting 10,000+ ft mountains in the Alps, watching multiple sunrises and sunsets too beautiful to capture with a camera became my reality during the time I spent completing the longest and toughest nonstop trail race in the world, the Tor des Geants.

The magnitude of my adventure and the number of memorable experiences I was able to enjoy during my 142 hour trek cannot be accurately conveyed through any “run recap” I could write, however due to the 207 mile distance and the number of hours spent moving, my memory is not good enough to portray my experience sequentially with regard to the “sections” of the course. However I will attempt to try to give a sense of the magnitude of the mountains I was able to trek through, as well as the amazingly difficult, steep, and rocky trail that traverses some of the most beautiful mountains I’ve ever seen.

To sum up the Tor des Geants, it’s difficult, really DIFFICULT. However the difficulty of the course isn’t even the most challenging aspect. The route for the TDG, is by far the most dangerous trail I’ve ever spent time on. During multiple times of the race, I had to fully focus my attention and efforts on staying on the trail, coming feet and sometimes inches from a severe and hazardous sheer drop was commonplace during the race. However, the race organization did a magnificent job of marking a clear course (besides one small section), and therefore I enjoyed my trek more than any endurance related event I’ve ever been a part of.

The Tor des Geants is so BIG in every way. The mountains are big, unforgiving, and extremely rugged. The number of fans on the course, and volunteers in life stations/refugios, number in the thousands. The race is so long in distance and time, that it truly feels like an extremely challenging trek, that isn’t really a run, and isn’t really a race. Out of the 707 starters there are about a dozen or so competitors actually trying to race, hoping to go as fast as possible and attempting to hold or gain position on their competitors. I’m proud to be able to call Nick Hollon a new friend who finished with the best TDG time (81 hours) ever by an American. As part of the other 99% of the race participants, my single and only objective for the TDG was to finish, and hopefully be safe in the process.

The weather during the first 24 hours of the race can be simply described with one word, miserable. We started the race by standing in a heavy downpour for 15+ minutes waiting for the pre-race festivities and rituals to be complete, so we could start slowly making it up the first 5,000+ climb, one of many to come. We finally began the race, already soaking wet, I was able to stay near the front of the starting “crowd” so I could try to avoid being stuck behind hundreds of other participants. After the first hour of constant uphill climbing, I quickly realized what a “steep” trail was in the Tor, something unlike any other terrain I’ve ever trained on. The first 10 miles or so were what I expected, congestion and overly excited runners who are trying to go at an unsustainable pace, constantly trying to pass you as if it matters, but I easily obliged.

I’ve never wanted to quit a race before, but when I reached Valgrisenche (30 miles in), after being wet, cold for 12+ hrs, and knowing I still had to get to mile 60 before the next life base where I’d see Dawn for the 1st time, I had little desire to continue in the miserable weather conditions that I possibly would face for 12+ more hours. However, I knew I was not going to quit for ANY reason, it was just my initial fear of the unknown concerning the race, that made me so pessimistic initially. This race was additionally difficult for 2 reasons, I spent large amounts of time on the trail alone, and communication with other athletes was kept to a minimum mostly due to a lack of bilingual speaking skills on my part. Most runners were Italian or French, not speaking much English or at least wanting to try to speak. However my experience meeting and conversing with other international runners would soon change as the race became smaller and the surviving participants were in deeper stages of suffering. I found it quite interesting and amazing how athletes from 42 different countries, often not speaking a common language, could create meaningful bonds and friendships, simply because we were all suffering and enjoying every minute of it, together. I later came to depend on other international runners for support, and camaraderie on the trail, which was warmly welcomed 100+ hours into the race.

The first 30 miles from Courmayeur to Valgrisenche included climbing and descending four peaks at or close to 10,000 ft. The weather was a combination of pouring rain, intermittent hail, and gusts of wind that were cold and piercing. I’ll never forget the first summit I made during the race the 1st night, which involved turning on the headlamp for the first time, and cautiously using the fixed ropes to reach the first summit Col de la Croatie (9,300 ft). It was extremely windy, cold, and hailing as a small group of us reached the summit clinging to the ropes hoping no one in front or behind me fell, because we were bunched closely together. The rocks were extremely slick, and offered very little confidence when descending the sharp steep switchbacks in total darkness, following only the single beam of light my headlamp provided. At this point I realized I would be need to be extremely cautious and aware of my surroundings in order to complete this race safely. The descents were often as exhausting mentally as the ascents were physically, due to the narrow single track trail that would often be snaking down a mountain at an insane degree that is not commonly seen in the US. Not to mention the common sheer drops of rock and earth that were adjacent to the trail during all different portions of the course. After taking advantage of the downhill portions, and managing to only fall completely off my feet one time (not resulting in any injury), I arrived at Valgrisenche, the 1st life base 30 miles into the race. I enjoyed my first of many pasta dishes, along with plenty of Coke and other foods as I anxiously changed into dry clothes, so I could survive my 1st night more comfortably without freezing. I also reached the point now where I had a new motivation of getting to Cogne the 2nd life base, where I’d see Dawn for the first time, and I would feel a sense of teamwork. I wasn’t used to doing any race or self-created adventure completely on my own, with no interaction with friends/crew. I left Valgrisenche feeling confident, and better acclimated to the high altitudes I’d be about to reach in the 2nd “section” of the race.

Sometime between midnight-2am, 15ish hours into the race, I started the most difficult 30 mile section in the race. The route goes from Valgrisenche to Cogne, summiting Col Entrelor, and Col Loson both near or above 10,000 ft. Luckily this section was after only 30 miles of the race, and my legs and mind were “fresh.” However in my brief 4 year trail running career, I had never summited two more difficult mountains than Entrelor and Loson. I had been at a higher elevation in the past, but the never ending trail’s insanely steep grade in addition to the very rugged rock/boulder trail surface often made each step forward a challenge. No words could fully describe the vastness of the mountain wilderness that was around me during my entire experience, but the section from Valgrisenche to Cogne made me quickly realize this race was no joke, and would take every part of my mind and body to successfully complete the entire 208 mile loop. I crawled up to the summit Col Loson (the 2nd 10,000 ft summit), before I started the long and beautiful single track trail to Cogne where I knew Dawn would be waiting for me. I had never run 60 miles before without seeing my crew, or Dawn..and I definitely did not like that aspect of the TDG (at first, will explain later). I arrived in Cogne (63 miles in) around 7:30pm on Monday, ready to try and sleep for the first time ever during an ultra. I was nervous about how I’d feel after the nap, having never tried sleeping before during a race, but luckily I woke up feeling much better and with an appetite and a great desire to continue...onto the 3rd section which would turn out to be the “least difficult” section, thankfully.

Leaving the life station at Cogne, 63 miles in...I was beginning the 2nd night of my adventure. The race completely changed for me at this point mostly due to the fact I’d had human contact with familiar faces, and I’d most importantly, slept. I was worried about how I’d feel waking up, possibly stiff as a board, feeling more tired than I was before...however this fear thankfully disappeared quickly after I’d woken up feeling nothing but hungry and ready to continue. This section was done almost entirely in darkness, but thankfully the elevation gain was “only” +11,000 ft of gain during the next 27 miles to Donnas (where the real pain would begin). I completed this 27 mile section in roughly 13-14 hours which was “fast” compared to a near 20 hour preceding section (Valgrisenche to Cogne), and the next section (Donnas to Gressoney) which would take an insanely hard 24 hours. This section contained some much needed steady downhills that could be run or quickly hiked, including a great aid station (Rifugio Dondena I believe) which had friendly women brewing me free espresso shots and feeding me some amazing coffee cake which at 3am served as a perfectly caffeinated breakfast to fuel me for the upcoming 3rd day of “forward progress.” After meandering through an incredible small Italian village (near Pontboset I believe) soon after sunrise, I was able to walk through cobblestone alleys passing by an old Italian woman hanging her clothes to dry in the sun. I was 6 miles away from Cogne, feeling fantastic after my caffeine/sugar high breakfast started to wear off. It took me to this point in the race to truly appreciate my surroundings, and fully embrace the towns and mountains I was traveling through. The small town near Pontboset was so beautiful and tiny compared to the 10,000 ft peaks that surrounded the quaint village. I snapped a view quick pictures overlooking the village from a bridge, and continued to Donnas where I’d see Dawn for the 2nd time and possibly my good friend Allison for the 1st time (although I wouldn’t until mile 124). Arriving in Donnas was incredible in that the town was the most beautiful of all the towns I’d previously encountered, and knowing I had knocked out 90+ of the 208 miles was somewhat encouraging to my mental state and hopes of finishing this insanely difficult but beautiful trek.

After probably the longest stay at a life station during my entire race, I left Donnas feeling refreshed again after having slept 60 almost 90 minutes. The extra 30 minutes made me feel exponentially more fresh, motivated, and ready to continue what would turn out to be by far the most difficult portion of the race for me. The Donnas to Gressoney section is 33 miles, with +15,000 ft of gain, and would turn out to be the most tiring and difficult 50 km I’d ever completed. I ascended out of Donnas feeling positive and excited to continue. I knew I’d get to see both Dawn and Allison at the next life base so I had a newly acquired short term goal: Get to Gressoney in a timely fashion. Of course my ascent began with another never ending steep section, but unusually it was on tiny winding asphalt/rocky roads. After enjoying another beautiful sunset and reaching another beautiful small village on a hillside (a few thousand feet up from Gressoney) before I’d turn on my headlamp once again and get ready for night 3. I hiked completely alone for four hours up to Sassa (another small aid station approx. 5000 ft). Shortly after I was lucky enough to meet two awesome Danish guys who were entertaining, to say the least, and most conveniently they spoke ENGLISH. Finally, I was able to converse with people in somewhat intelligent conversation! This was a great luxury because it decreased my perceived time and effort that went into reaching Rif. Coda during a T-storm, and some of the windiest conditions I’d ever experienced in the mountains. Coda is a major landmark in the race, being that it is a large mountain refugio (6,500 ft.) at the exact halfway point of the 208 mile TDG trek. In addition to its geographically importance, I was lucky enough to see the most beautiful sight of the entire race so far..a fantastic lightning storm a few thousand feet below us on the trail, we watched the sky light up constantly below us, while we battled some of the fiercest wind ever experienced during the race so far. After another hour of sleep I was able to leave Coda feeling more alert and ready for the upcoming 3rd night. Leaving Coda sometime around midnight, I quickly found another pair of runners who where Italian. However unlike my past experiences with the locals, one of the two understood and spoke English. This turned out to be another great blessing considering the next 12-15 mile section I was about to encounter what would be the most difficult climbing I’d done in darkness. The last major ascent of the section (to Col della Vecchia, 7,200 ft) I was able to use my newly found and much appreciated locals to slowly make our way to the summit after boulder hopping on the way up. This was definitely the most challenging and dangerous trail surface I’d encountered until now, contributing to an extremely difficult and slow 23 hour and 56 min for only 33 miles. Amazingly in retrospect, I felt that I completed Donnas-Gressoney section, thanks to my Italian pacers, as fast as I possibly could have, yet the near 24 hour time for 33 miles seemed incomprehensible at the time. I arrived in Gressoney after another long +3,500 ft ascent/descent feeling tired for the first time while reaching a physical and mental lowpoint that I had never felt..although it was only 124 miles in, I had never traversed such difficult mountainous terrain before and I was now experiencing the pain that accompanied this task. Thankfully and luckily my crew (Dawn and Allison) would give me important advice at the Gressoney life station that would turn out to potentially “save my race.” 124 miles and approx. 78 hours into the race I would arrive tired but hopeful.

Arriving in Gressoney, knowing I had completed the hardest 30 mile section of the race, gave me a small amount of confidence that would quickly disappear. Sitting at the life station in Gressoney, I was mentally exhausted, and physically beat up from the +15,000 of gain in the Donnas to Gressoney section. I wanted to sleep badly, but thanks to the advice from Allison and Dawn I was not “allowed” to spend too much time there. All the familiar foods I’d come across at the life/aid stations got very unappealing quickly, and my desire to eat was lost. After a brief time changing clothes, and contact lenses I was encouraged to start the next section, while the sunlight was still there. I was facing another major climb to Col Pinter (9,1000 ft) which would turn out to be one of the toughest climbs, mostly because I was nutritionally not prepared. I had lost my appetite, but left Gressoney on my way to Valtournenche, with the sunlight and my newly found desire to tackle the next peak, knowing I would have a downhill section after Col Pinter, and could possibly get some sleep in the early morning hours, which would be better than sleeping at Gressoney (during the sunlight).

I left Gressoney without much sleep, feeling positive and happy to see Allison for the first time, with Dawn. Knowing they were both going to follow me for the rest of the race, made me feel more like a part of a team, which was a more familiar feeling that I welcomed. I enjoyed a short flat section that lasted a few miles long, before meeting my first new friend. He was from France, and was willing to try and carry on short conversations in English, even though I knew he was working hard just to do so. Luckily he led us slowly up to Col Pinter, arriving at the summit in total darkness, with our headlamps and the moon to guide us. I had never experienced such a difficult climb at night, feeling sleep deprived, hungry, and dizzy on my way to the mountain’s pass. I ate 5-6 energy gels and bars, as well as an entire Gatorade just to allow myself to safely make my way up the single track climb. We made our way through a long downhill section, that I stumbled through to reach what turned out to be an amazing lodge where I would eat an incredible meal (homemade vegetable noodle soup), and sleep in a very cozy mountain lodge. This hot meal and 1.5 hour sleep made me feel like a new person when I was preparing to leave in the early hours of the morning, before sunrise on my 4th night. After a beautiful morning, and summiting another near 9,500 ft col, the descent began into Valtournenche..easily one of the most beautiful portions of the race. The descent was forgiving as I was pleased to see dirt mixed with grass, making a familiar “trail surface” I was used to, opposed to the constant “rockyness” of certain previous portions. As I reached the town limits of Valtournenche, I again was pleased to see Dawn and Allison, after they had hiked up to meet me well before the life station. These short sections (10-30 min) that I was able to enjoy with them, were some of the best parts of continuing on in this trek. Knowing there are others who will be waiting to see me at the next life station (15-20 hours later), helped me maintain my mental strength.

Leaving Valtournenche, I felt physically the best I had since the beginning of the race. Remembering I had only one more life base to make it to before the finish, I used these “short” 30 mile chunks to serve as my next goal. On my way to Ollomont, I had 27 miles with +9,000 ft of gain to enjoy the rest of the afternoon and very difficult evening that day. After summiting Fenetre du Tsan (9,000 ft), this course got very difficult for a different reason. Most of the entire section was at or close to 9,000 ft elevation. After having finished about 150 miles, my body did not enjoy being at the higher elevations (9-10,000 ft) for 10+ continuous hours. Darkness slowly came as I watched amazing panoramic sunset views in between the countless rugged and jagged climbs and descents. The single track ran along some insanely steep drop offs, that took mental energy and concentration to safely avoid. The darkness was thick, I would shine my headlamp up towards the direction I was headed, and see multiple reflective trail markers light up. These reflective markers helped me see where I was headed, and also allow me to count the number of reflective markers I saw, so I knew how much further I needed to travel. However I quickly found that something “four markers away” was not very far at all, and the darkness of night instantly changed my perception of my speed.

I arrived at Clermont, a tiny mountain refuge which was an experience that I will never forget. Imagine a small room with enough space for a small kitchen table with benches attached to the walls, and room for a small cooking area. The extremely tight quarters made for great conversation and interaction with the volunteers bunkering down in this tiny mountain refuge. The amount of entertainment I got from awkwardly communicating with strangers who don’t speak any English, after being awake for five days, was profound and very memorable. I left that refuge knowing I was about to become a lot more uncomfortable very quickly.

Col Vessonaz (9,200 ft) was the point in the race where I fully realized how dangerous this trek could be. I left the mountain refuge warm, but quickly had to adapt to extremely low temperatures, and piercing wind. I took a picture at 9,100 ft, around 1am, next to the summit “pillar” of Col Vessonaz, absolutely freezing. I knew this next portion, which turned out to be the most dangerous and challenging descent I’d ever endure, would define the wildness and danger of this race, which I now realize is why this “race” is better described as a “trek.” In addition to the sheer drops paralleling many portions of the descent, the trail was narrow and steep, between -40 to -50% grade. I attempted to slowly descend using similar techniques I’d found useful in the past, however I realized I’d need to stay close to the ground to safely complete the first few jagged switchbacks with a loose almost sandy trail surface. I then continued to attempt a controlled slide down the first few switchbacks which were sometimes extremely short before the next hairpin turn began. The darkness was so incredible during this portion of the race, I was completely alone for the past 5+ hours, and I was able to fully absorb the difficulty of this trek, and how demanding it was mentally due to the constant attention given to where my next step would be and what pace was safe.

I arrived at Oyace (major aid station) in the early morning hours before sunrise, 168 miles in to the race, feeling the worst I had ever felt since the start. I was tired, and in great need of sleep. However I was hungry, but I had no desire to eat any more pasta, cured meats, or breads that I had been consuming continuously over the past 4 days. I was able to change my clothes, before going to sleep which made me feel surprisingly better, just to feel “clean” and dry gave me a more positive outlook on my physical/mental state. I slept one and a half hours at this aid station, longer than almost any other stop. I woke around 4-5am feeling tired, weak, and mentally drained. I slowly got my clothes and gear on, while barely eating whatever was in front of me. Then I took out my hiking poles, put them together, and left them standing on a bench while I walked across the room to go to the bathroom. I came back and my poles were gone, but there was an exact identical pair (still broken down) where mine (standing) used to be. I was so tired and confused at the same time, I didn’t understand what had just happened. I couldn’t imagine how someone would steal another person’s poles, but then I quickly realized why they had done so. The poles they left (exact replicas, except longer) turned out to be bent and completely broken, therefore the reason mine got stolen. I instantly was energized with pure anger, in a way I’d never felt before. It took me almost 10 minutes on the trail (leaving from Oyace) before I realized how severely bent this one pole was, so I went all the way back to Oyace determined to figure out what the hell could have possible happened to mine. In a total rage, I quickly found no trace of my poles back at the station, or anyone who was willing to help me find them. I didn’t want to continue wasting time and energy, so I decided to continue with the broken pole I had. My anger and determination inside made me run the entire next 2+ miles uphill, thinking I was 20-30 minutes behind whoever stole my poles. I quickly passed 6-8 people all while closely checking the brand/model of their hiking poles, without trying to be obvious...to see if they resembled my missing unbroken ones. My poles were gone, I was slowly waking up while the sun peaked over a distant mountain range. I reached the summit of Col Brison (8,200 ft), another steep, burly climb feeling encouraged I had nothing but downhill in front of me to Ollomont (the next major life base). Ollomont is a very desirable life base to reach because it is the last major stop before the finish in Courmayeur (30 miles away). Ollomont was also the last place I’d see my team before the finish. Thanks to an amazingly positive reception from a TDG camera crew, and Dawn/Allison in Ollomont, my spirits were quickly rejuvenated. My pure anger and frustration went away, I was now fully able to understand how “close” I was to seeing the beautiful town of Courmayeur for the 2nd time, making a complete 208 mile loop through some of the most insanely difficult mountain trail/terrain in the Alps in order to finish the beautiful trek that is, Tor des Geants.

I arrived in Ollomont around 11:30am, regained my appetite, and used the time to refuel, enjoy my team’s great pampering. I have absolutely no idea how the next event I’m going to describe happened, but as I changed clothes and got my pack full of GU, etc. I looked over to a metal barrier, MY POLES stood there completely unattended to. Again you’d have to imagine this whole development a lot more interesting to myself, considering I was extremely sleep deprived, and now newly confused by the whole situation. After I saw my poles standing only 5 ft away from me, thinking I was hallucinating I quickly went over to investigate, hoping I would easily be able to identify them, which I did. Let’s just say after spending 5+ days with them, I knew exactly what each handle, pole, etc., looked like. I was still beyond confused but I instantly grabbed them took them back, and placed the broken poles in their place, the ultimate revenge, I guess?! I was now feeling great, had a full stomach, and most importantly I had my poles which were extremely vital for every major climb. I had two more (9-10,000 ft) peaks to summit before I'd begin the descent into Courmayeur (the finish).

I began the first climb to Col Champillon and quickly linked up with a really nice guy from the UK, we chatted in “intelligent” English which was a welcomed change after my brief simplistic conversations with non-English speaking participants. We reached the summit of Col Champillon still feeling good, and in positive spirits, knowing that if we kept moving we were on track to finish “soon” which would end up being almost 20 hours later. The 6th consecutive night on the trail would turn out to be a memorable and extremely difficult one. My new friend from the UK and I linked up with another runner from Belgium (who also spoke fluent English), and we completed the next 10-15 miles together. For the first time in the race the trail was mostly flat/downhill. We arrived at an aid station shortly after sunset, to another huge audience of locals. We all felt a bit different at that point, I wanted to continue without sleeping to try to summit Col Malatra as soon as possible, however my new friends were thinking of staying a bit longer.

My ignorance at the time made me think I could complete the climb and summit in a few hours before sleeping on the downhill side of the last 9,650 ft peak in the race. This last climb would prove to be a daunting and dangerous summit, half due to my depleted mental/physical state and half because a ladder and rope were necessary in assisting us to the highest point before descending. The climb took multiple hours including a 45 minute nap. I trudged up to a near 10,000 ft summit, feeling extremely weak and tired of going up. All I could think of was how wonderful it would be to go down instead of up, and that thought alone motivated me to continue moving forward as “fast” as possible. I reached the summit of Col Malatra after scaling a ladder and rope with one hand and my hiking poles in the other. The entire time I felt like I was moving in slow motion, making sure my feet and hands were in the correct position, to avoid having some stupid accident at the very end of the race. The summit was literally a few feet wide, before the trail began to descend. The wind began to whip, and the temps dropped quickly, making for a hurried descent. However knowing I would only have to go downhill for the next 10+ miles made me optimistic and allowed my mental state to immediately rebound allowing me to enjoy my last night on the trail. There was nothing but endless stars that were all so bright I could not believe what I was experiencing. The pure beauty of the mountainous landscape that surrounded me finally sank in around 3am 135 hours into the race, to where I was completely at peace knowing I would finally be finishing the Tor des Geants, safely and assuredly. I was very aware of my surrounding feeling a deep connection to the moutains and towns I had passed through and experienced, each one being so unique and incredible beyond description. I made sure to take in the last few miles of beautiful trail that bypassed the enormous Mont Blanc, while I watched the 6th sunrise in a row...probably the most beautiful yet.

To try to capture the beauty and vastness of my experiences traveling through the Alps continuously for 6 days, starting and finishing the Tor des Geants...is nearly impossible. My extremely lengthy report is simply a brief “summary” of my experiences, which are still being fully realized and appreciated today. I remember thinking of what I would say to people who would ask “what was it like...?” not knowing how I could absorb the entire 6 day trek and describe the pure difficulty and length of my travels. The best memory I can draw from today was during the last few hours of the race, 200 miles in, 8 to go. I remember wanting the race itself to be over, but more importantly I wanted to enjoy and appreciate the euphoric feelings I was having then...traveling through these incredible mountains, and enjoying every minute of it. The best way to describe my feelings during that time, was a state of complete contentment and an appreciation for my life and well being throughout this difficult trek.

I began the long descent into Courmayeur, where I started this long journey 6 days ago. I felt so happy to be “back” in the place where this all began, as well as being able to enjoy sleeping in a bed, taking a shower, and eating whatever I could find. My time spent in the mountains made me so much more grateful for all the everyday amenities we enjoy in our everyday life. I was beyond happy to see Dawn and Allison again at the finish, knowing they would be waiting for me made all the difference in the world, in my determination to reach the finish. Around 9am on the 6th day of the race, I crossed the beautiful finish line of the Tor des Geants, completing my journey and the experience that went with finishing the hardest footrace in the world.

None of this entire experience would have been possible without the help and amazing dedication my girlfriend Dawn and great friend Allison gave me during the race. They were an absolute necessity and blessing. I am eternally grateful for the opportunity to travel across the world and still have the love and support of my friends, and family.

Writing this report is helps my own memory and my ability to look back on specific details of the race in chronological order that I would normally never remember. However I enjoy allowing friends, family, and other endurance athletes, the opportunity to enjoy reading about my experiences traveling on foot through some of the most beautiful landscape on Earth. I hope my 2013 TDG report entertained you, and gave you an insight into my 208 mile/142 hour trek through the Alps! I hope you’ve enjoyed my stories, and thank you for letting me sharing them!

I will continue to enjoy my time relaxing during the winter months, before training begins for my next adventure. I will be attempting to complete the 195 mile High Sierra Route unsupported, with one or a few close friends in August 2014. This will be my first unsupported adventure, which will be a great challenge and a new facet of my ultra endurance experience!


- David Wronski.


Here’s a few links to TDG YouTube videos that will give you an idea of how incredible the course and landscape will be:

A glimpse of Valle d'Aosta