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The TDS: a different beast

by 1
Monday 28th August 2017
Tags  UTMB   |   Majell Backhausen   |   TDS
Ed: Majell knows a bit about the TDS as he came 6th in the race last year. He gives us his inside knowledge on this beast of a race. If you're running it this year, or would like to run it in the future, here are some great tips!

By Majell Backhausen
TDS - it really is a different beast, but a beast which can be tamed. Don't let it intimidate you, be friends with it and work the course to your advantage.
This course has some steep, continuous, seemingly endless climbs but also long sustained descents and really good runnable sections, yes runnable.
The trick is to be disciplined and work each section correctly.
The climbs - be efficient, find your rhythm and work through them consistently, step by step. Make sure you hydrate and eat and simply don't rush them, just hike through them with purpose. Poles are a good asset if it's something you use.
The descents - they are long and they need to be taken conservatively. Don't get sucked in early and run full pelt down them, they have the tendency to lure you in and make you run effortlessly down them for the first 1km. be resistant to this somewhat and save your legs. I say this because the back end of the race requires you to have legs for running/ shuffling/ keeping you moving forward.
Runnable sections - a lot of time can be lost and gained on the large amount of runnable terrain on this course, by this I mean flat sections. Its not too obvious from the course profile but they are on this course and they need to be worked to your advantage. 
It’s an early start and chances are you are done in the dark so carry a light head torch for most of it, and change this out for a better one at either Bourg Saint Maurice, Cormet de Rosalind or Les Contamines, depending on your timings. 
On a hot day you are exposed to the sun and heat in a big way! Hat and sunglasses are highly recommended. There are a lot of streams, fountains on the way to use, SO USE ALL OF THEM!! On the contrary if the weather is going to be rainy and windy, you will be exposed to that too, so be prepared for it and don't skimp on heavier kit if this will be the case.
It has really remote sections, it feels a lot 'wilder' then UTMB and that element is pretty cool. It’s an easy race to break down in terms of aid stations, specific climbs and descents and the aid stations provide a good spread of food. 
As for crew, I had a 2 separate people helping me out, but if someone was to drive to each location, that is a decent mission for the crew, but doable. 
As mentioned you need legs at the finish, with 8km flat along the river to finish, it’s an opportunity to gain positions and finish strong. Keep that in mind when you think you may be bombing downhills.
I think this race comes down to it comes down moving smoothly, relaxed, efficiently and consistently in between the major uphill hikes and downhills. And not wrecking your legs on the downhill! 
I got told a lot before the race that it is really 'technical' but honestly it's not that much worse then UTMB. There are a few rocky steep sections, but they are relatively short. 
From Passeur de Pralognan to La Gittaz there are some technical sections to take easy and be relaxed when traversing them. 
And from Col de Tricol to Bellevue there are a few technical sections too. Good chance this will be dark too. 



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