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The debate over Tor des Geants rolls on

by @garyfallsover
Friday 18th March 2016
It seems the saga of the Tor des Geants will rumble on for some time yet with the news that this week in a Turin courtroom the organisers of the competing 4K race, the ‘Forte del Bard’ have been told that the are to cease enrolments for their race as it is clearly detrimental to the existing Tor des Geants. Furthermore there have been restrictions imposed on any announcements regarding the perceived safety of the Tor and that any comments by the 4K that would appear to be detrimental to the belief that the Tor des Geants would go on as planned would be a breach of the court order.
 On this face of it this is a huge victory for VDA trailers and the TdG, however it is clearly not seen this way by the Forte del Bard as they have said in statement on their website that they will continue to take registrations until the pre registration period has closed in just over a week. However you look at it the fact is that the 4K organisers have cancelled a press conference today during which the race was to be officially launched and it must be cause for huge concern for the almost 1500 athletes who have already signed up, albeit as it stands none have paid.
 I have been in contact with the organisers of both races and though the 4K staff were happy to comment on aspects of the new race they did not wish to be drawn into a conversation about the dispute with VDA.
I did manage to put a few questions to the race director of VDA and the organiser of the TdG Alessandra Nicoletti who provided these answers to me. Translation has been provided kindly by Peter Sumner but I also provide the original Italian statement for clarity.
Q: What does todays judicial result mean for the Tor.
Significa che ha giudicato l'azione della Regione e del Forte di Bard (organizzatore della 4K) lesiva dell'attività di VDA Trailers, per cui impedisce alla gara 4K di continuare la sua attività di iscrizioni. Senza iscritti una corsa non può essere fatta. Oggi avrebe dovuto esserci a Milano una pressntazione ufficiale della gara 4K ma la Regione Valle d’Aosta ha annullato l’incontro.
It means that they have judged that the actions of the regional government and of ‘Forte del Bard’ (the organisers of the 4k race) are detrimental to the VDA trailer’s business. They have therefore ordered that the 4k cease enrolment to the race. Without enrollments, a race can clearly not be run. Today, in Milan, there was supposed to be the official presentation of the 4k race, but the Valle d’Aosta region cancelled the meeting. 
Q: If, as expected, 4K appeal the result what is the next step
Ma il passo successivo sarà l'audizione al Tribunale di Torino della Regione e del Forte di Bard (oltre che di VDA Trailers) che porteranno le loro giustificazioni e motivazioni. Ci sarà poi un giudizio definitivo, al quale potranno comunque appellarsi, ma che difficilmente cambierà le cose, viste le precise e dettagliate motivazioni portate dal giudice.
The next step will be the hearing before The Tribunal in Torino with the Valle d’Aosta region, the Forte di Bard as well as the VDA trailers. They will each set out their motives and reasons. There will then be a final judgement which can subsequently be appealed, even if a change in that decision would be unlikely, given the precise and detailed reasons which the judge will have laid out. 
Q: If 4K offered to move their race to earlier in the season would the Tor stop legal proceedings against them?
VDA Trailers intende proseguire con la sua azione legale al fine di tutelare il regolare svolgimento del Tor, nonché la sua attività imprenditoriale. 
VDA Trailers intends to continue with legal action in order to safeguard the regular running of the Tor, as well as its business.
Q: Is there still communication between VDA and 4K and is there still negotiation?
Non ci sono più stati contatti diretti tra VDA Trailers e Regione/Forte. L'intento di VDA Trailers è comunque quello di arrivare a un accordo, anche dopo le disposizioni del giudice, affinchè il Tor sia tutelato oggi e nel futuro.  
There has been no direct contact between the VDA Trailers and The Region/Forte. The intention of the VDA Trailers is however, to reach some form of agreement, even after the judge’s order in order to assure the safety of the Tor now and in the future.
Q: Does VDA have the necessary permissions and permits to use the National Trails for the Tor?
Non ci sono autorizzazioni necessarie allo svolgimento della gara, se non di tipo locale (occupazione suolo pubblico, chiusura strade, uso di sale e palestre). Le richieste sono già state fatte e le risposte stanno arrivando positive. 
No authorisation in necessary to run the race, apart from at a local level (use of public land, closing the roads, use of public spaces and gyms…). The requests have already been made and the results seem to be coming back positive 
Q: Earlier this week there was an announcement about course changes, is that because the Tor does not have permission to use certain trails?
I cambi di percorso sono stati chiesti per motivi vari indipendenti dalla questione con la Regione/Forte.   In particolare ne abbiamo due: una richiesta per passare in un nuovo rifugio (che cambierà anche il tracciato ufficiale delle Alte Vie, cioè i sentieri ufficiali della regione) e l'altro per evitare un punto che potrebbe essere a rischio frana.
The course changes have been made for reasons that are completely independent from the matter at hand. There are two in particular; The first is to pass by a new mountain ‘rifugio’ (this will also change the official path of the ‘Alte Vie,’ the official paths of the region). The second is to avoid an area that is at risk from landslides.
Q: Would VDA consider using trackers on their athletes?
Stiamo definendo gli accordi con sponsor interessati alla sperimentazione di GPS appositi. Sponsor che si è avvicinato a noi proprio perchè non abbiamo più vincoli con la Regione.  
We are currently finalising an agreement with interested sponsors to trial specific gps systems, sponsors who have come to us specifically due to the fact that we don’t have ties to the region anymore. 
Q: Would a change of date for the Tor be considered?
Perchè? La data è stata decisa nel 2009 insieme alla Regione, prese in considerazione tutta una serie di aspetti ed è sempre stata condivisa. Ormai fa parte di un calendario internazionale al quale gli atleti fanno riferimento. Non c'è motivo valido perchè la data venga spostata, anche perché anticipare la data di una settimana non cambierà certo le previsioni meteo (siamo in montagna, si corre oltre i 2000 metri e può facilmente nevicare anche in agosto!) e, oltretutto, sarebbe troppo vicina all’Utmb. I nostri runner devono essere più esperti di montagna, del suo ambiente naturale, e non delle corse sulla strada di città.
Why? The date was decided upon in 2009 together with the region, taking into consideration all logistical aspects and this date has always been fixed. The date, at this point in time, forms part of the international calendar and is a reference point for all athletes. There is no valid reason as to why the date would be moved, bringing the race forward by a week would not change the predicted weather patterns (we are in the mountains, running at an altitude of over 2000 metres where it can pretty easily snow even in August!) It would also make it far too close to UTMB. Our runners must be experts in the mountains, in the natural environment and not at road and city running. 
 So it seems this dispute has a way to run yet, with the Forte undoubtedly to appeal the judgement and continue with their plans and the very real possibility that, despite their optimism, the VDA may well not get the necessary permissions to close roads or use the public spaces they need, particularly because the local mayors of the towns and villages concerned seem to be mostly behind the 4k. 
Whatever happens this has undoubtedly damaged the reputation of Italian trail running. How much remains to be seen. 

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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