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The Tor goes ahead

by @garyfallsover
Wednesday 10th February 2016
There was an ad some years ago for a long forgotten treat which essentially asked what seemed to me to be at the time a fairly simple question. “ Daddy or chips?” The implication being of course there was a struggle within the heroine of the ad as to whether she did indeed love her daddy or whatever brand of chips were being peddled. 
 Now for me of course being a family boy from the west of Ireland the question was never in doubt, family all the way. But I wonder would I have answered quite as quickly and as surely now if someone asked me a slightly altered question.
“ Daddy  or the Tor des Geants “ The answer would never have been doubt but I think I may have taken just a beat longer to answer.
 Some of us have been lucky thus far to have found the race. The one race we’ll, if allowed, come back to again and again and never grow tired of. Some swear by Badwater, some Spartathalon. Some have less exotic tastes and revel in the simplicity of the local parkrun. All great races and all mean different things to different people, their race diminished in no way by the existence of others. Well those who know me know that my race is and will always be the Tor des Geants. A 330km 24,000 metre beast of a race in the Italian Aosta valley. A race I’ve started twice and finished never, my first attempt ending in a mountain rescue helicopter and an Italian hospital. But I wouldn’t swop those defeats for anything, each moment I got to spend on the course treasured and my only regrets that I didn’t get to spend longer.
So it was with great fear and trepidation that over the last week or so I’ve been hearing a variety of rumours coming out of Italy about a dispute between the organisation who runs the Tor, VDA Trailers, and the local supporting authority in the Aosta Valley. Ostensibly the dispute is over the safety of the race but as with all things of this nature it’s likely to have been far more complicated. Whatever the reasons it was announced on Italian web forums that the local authority would be withdrawing its support from the race and would endeavour to put on a race of its own along the same or similar route at a different time. 
  Having attempted the race twice I’m keenly aware of how important the local authority is to the race. From the military cadets who staffed the checkpoints to the government helicopters who lift the supplies to the high pass checkpoints they are integral and the realisation that they would no longer be available to VDA indicated to all that the race would, could no longer be viable. 
 So in the absence of concrete information I contacted Franco Faggiani, the communications director for the Tor and he provided me with a full statement and a clarification of their position which I re produce fully below. 
And essentially it is that thought there has been a dispute between VDA and Region of Valle D’Aosta which has resulted in the region withdrawing their support from the 2016 Tor VDA are fully committed to the Tor as it stands going ahead in the form that has been recognised for the past six years, on the familiar paths known and loved and with the support of the local community. He stated that VDA had the support of the local community and of the local commercial organisations and sponsors and as such were committed to delivering the same race they have successfully delivered for the previous six years. 
And for me that is the key here. I write not as one communicating opinions and information but as a runner who loves this race and what makes it special. It’s not just the valley, or the mountains or the route or the scenery. It’s the people who opened their homes to passing athletes to rest and recover, it’s the men and women who climbed through the night to greet the dawn with a chorus of cowbells on remote and exposed mountaintops, cheering weary athletes with shouts of ‘forza forza.’ It was kids who high fived me through Donnas and the devil who followed me over the bridge. For me the race was about the people and as long as they were there so would I, if lucky enough to be chosen.
So come September, if I’m lucky, I’ll once again be on that start line and once again I’ll look up at the giants hoping this time is my time. Third time lucky right?
Press release: 
 9 February 2016
Courmayeur (Aosta) - VDA Trailers, the company that has always organizes the Tor des Géants®, confirmed that the issue of the great Valdaostan race will be held regularly, as scheduled, from 11 to 18 September 2016. 
VDA Trailers is widely supported by all the volunteers, organizations, and security professionals that have always followed. A poll conducted by a newspaper of Aosta, the race retains broad acceptance even by regional public opinion and even of important regional political institutions have expressed their support.
The greatest support is still by competitors. Six days after the close of pre-registration are over 2.210 aspirants to the big race, representing 71 countries (last year there were 60). The extraction of the 700 actual participants will take place by 20 February. 
Other media of great value comes from sponsors, including a new international brand, Montane, British company leader in the world of extreme feats, with which it signed a multi-year agreement.
The Region of Valle d'Aosta, who had in 2015 only a sponsor role, has sought to impose, without success, its organizing committee and a program, which would have changed the spirit of the race, its original features and work played in the first six years of the VDA Trailers.
The imposition of the Valle d'Aosta region has not been accepted by VDA Trailers that with the professionalism and experience recognized internationally, has always organized with growing success the Tor des Géants®.
VDA Trailers, which registered the trademark and intellectual property of the Tor des Géants®, opposed the will of a public body, such as the region, to intervene in the legitimate activities of success of a private company.
The Region of Valle d'Aosta has therefore supported the idea of organizing such a competition, but without providing at the time dates, locations, facilities, financing, authors. 
VDA Trailers, that with the Tor gave global visibility to tourist activities of the Aosta valley, therefore, continues with enthusiasm and professionalism to organize his great adventure for the 700 sports enthusiasts and mountain running from 71 Nations. Thanks to the support of volunteers and sponsors who have confirmed their participation. 
The Region of Valle d'Aosta is of course free to organize their own race, with another name, in other times and distances and the paths it considers appropriate. But it will never be the Tor des Géants®.

About The Author

Gary Dalton

Gary Dalton is a rugby loving, crime fighting, white Irish Muslim ultra runner. Despite all this he's not a complete eejit. 

Gary is originally from the west of Ireland and can't actually remember when he moved to London - he blames a heavy diet of being tackled by prop forwards and potatoes for the memory loss. He hates going out for runs, canals and borderline hypothermia and loves ice cream and going out for runs. 


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