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The Tor wins

by @garyfallsover
Wednesday 28th December 2016
So there it is. There is truly only one Tor. The organisers of an alternate race along the same Alta Vie trails that the Tor des Geants have used since its inception have confirmed this week they will no longer support a second edition of the 4K.  A statement on their website states simply that in accordance with the wishes of the Aosta Valley regional council the organisation will instead look towards a unique race in the region and cease opposing the established Tor des Geants.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with the back story the Tor des Geants is an iconic and much loved ultra endurance race starting and finishing in the Italian alpine town of Courmayeur. It’s a journey of over 330km and 24,000+ metres of climb over some of the most spectacular and rugged trails in the world. But more than that it’s a congregation of some of the most passionate and friendly supporters and athletes in the running community.  We often talk of the trail community in the most blasé of terms, as if by using the words we can attach truth to them. But the Tor, perhaps by virtue of it’s very hardship, brings out some of the best I’ve ever seen in people and invokes in it’s competitors and volunteers a sense of ownership I’ve never seen before in a race.
So when rumours surfaced in late 2015 of a competing race, run on the same trails and only a week before there was bound to be a spilt within the Aosta trail running community. Ostensibly the new race was born out of a desire by the municipal government to make the race safer, starting in Cogne to get the higher passes out of the way first. Equipping each athlete with a tracker for safety and insisting an expanded mandatory safety list. Attempts to forge a compromise by VDA Trailers, the organisers of the Tor, fell on deaf ears and after some acrimonious courtroom battles both races went ahead. 
And disappeared. I consider myself a friend of the Tor, I’ve started it three times and have yet to finish it once. But it fascinates, scares and holds me in a way no other race does. So I was interested in the 4K and made the best of every contact I had to follow its progress, how the organisation was faring, whether they had sufficient volunteers. And I heard very little. By all accounts it was well organised and well supported but outside of the Aosta valley it made little impact. It had almost no social media presence, I scanned Twitter and Facebook for updates and found very little. It was if it was just another trail race in an already overcrowded calendar.
In contrast the TDG, starting only a day later, in an area I expected to be race jaded, was a riot of expectation and exuberance. It was if people feared that this may be the end of the Tor, thinking that as the 4K had the support of the regional government there could be only one survivor and we were witnessing the end of a true classic.
Well I’m happy to report that’s not the case. I’ve been hearing for some time that there has been questions asked about the allocation of funding to the 4K race and it seems those rumours may well be true. Whatever the facts are it seems clear that next year there will only the Tor des Geants traversing the high passes of the Aosta valley and from a personal point of view I have to say I’m pleased. In my opinion there may well be a case for another race of that length in the area but to organise one in direct competition with an existing race with the plain view of destroying it’s financial viability in unconscionable. 
So for now at least there is only the Tor. But then again, for anyone who’s ever toed its start line, that’s all you’ll ever need. 

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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