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Tor des Geants: report number 2

by Robert Britton
Tuesday 13th September 2016
What a difference a night can make. the overall leader has dropped to fourth and now Oliviero Bosatelli, the caterpillar of Bergamo, has taken over a two hour lead. It could be a winning breakaway or a suicide mission of missed sleep that creates carnage later on as there is a long way to go and three Spaniards are chasing hard, one of the a former Tor winner.

Tor day 2 collage

The mountains have taken a few victims already, with 136 runners not making it through the initial thirty six hours of the Tor and 628 still moving, in one fashion or another. The last runner was taking a sleep at Valgrisenche (50km) whilst the leading was cruising through Chardonanney at 133.2km, this morning. Just the shear logistics of such a race is hard to believe, yet somehow every runner, from first to last, feels welcomed like family at each stop.
Natalie spent half an hour at the 50k Life Base last night, eating pasta, drinking lucozade and retaping her toes before heading out into the night. Before her were two of the biggest climbs of the race, the 3,002m Col Entrelor and the monster Col Loson, 3,299m, up in the air. Setting off in the middle of the night, with rain falling at the valley level.

Rob and Nat

At 7:00am we were woken, by a text saying “ Wow, that climb and descent was a bastard. Off up the last hill [Col Loson] and then a sleep in Cogne.” and sleep she did, for all of twenty minutes, followed by a coffee, pot noodle and melted Calippo. Allez Nats!

Nats day 2 2

The women’s race is still going strong with Silvia Ainhoa Trigueros Garrote now in second and Liza Borzani taking a 1 hour 40 minute lead. Neither has spent more than 30 minutes in a single checkpoint and most likely have not slept, which could have repercussions in the final third. Andrea Bernabei, who we reported to be second lady last night, is in fact a man. We’re not quite used to Italian names yet and are a little sleep deprived. 
After Cogne there are two quite large obstacles facing Natalie, the Fenetre di Champorcher at 2,827m and a long descent to Donnas at 330m elevation. With the nature of this race the runners will be less worried about the col and more concerned with the sustained running of the big descent. The quads will not be happy.
The lowest point in the race, at 330m, and not yet half way, it is a good place to sleep away from the constant exposure to altitude and with a quiet sleeping room hidden away upstairs. Runners sleep from 20 minutes to full six hour stints but everyone has a different strategy. Not many have the front runners have slept yet so fireworks may still be coming.
The second night could make or break a few runners so it will be interesting to see what the morning holds. We’ll get some kip, but only after we’ve been an alarm clock for Natalie and sent her up into the mountains again. 
For more regular updates check out @ultrabritton and @majellb on Twitter

About The Author

Robert Britton

Robbie is a 100 mile runner who is a member of the Great Britain 24hr Running Squad and Team Centurion and likes to run ridiculous distances as quickly as possible.

To provide enough food to feed a monster running habit, Robbie coaches other ultra marathon runners through www.robbiebritton.co.uk and is also a member of the coaching team at Centurion Running. He likes to dabble with a bit of writing so that others can learn from his mistakes and enjoy the sport as much as he does.

Robbie is also a is a Profeet ambassador.


"Pain is inevitable, suffering is just part of the fun"


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