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Montane Tor des Geants: day one

by 1
Monday 11th September 2017
Tags  Montane Tor des Geants   |   Tor des Geants   |   TDG   |   Montane   |   Debbie Martin-Consani
The 8th edition of the beautiful yet brutal Montane Tor des Géants (TDG) got underway yesterday (Sunday 10 September) and athletes, families and supporters, volunteers, race marshals, presenters, organisers, spectators, safety teams, sponsors, photographers and more descended on Courmayeur at the southern side of Mont Blanc in anticipation. 
According to the official count, 867 competitors lined up at 10am on the start line in the centre of Courmayeur. Combined with the inaugural Tot Dret (a shorter, sharper format of the TDG starting from Gressoney Saint Jean on Wednesday 13 September), a grand total of 1,241 racers will take part, representing 66 nations across the world.
Both races will finish in Courmayeur, making for an electric finale. TDG athletes will be battling to complete 205 miles / 330km in a cut-off time of 150 hours, while Tot Dret racers will have a mere 38 hours to navigate 80 miles / 130km. 
In the TDG there is strong competition. Winner of the 2016 men’s race, Oliviero Bosatelli, returns to defend his title. From looking at the race roster, organisers predict big things from Lionel Trivel (FR), Marco Gazzola (CH), Javier Dominguez-Ledo (ES), Jean Claude Mathieu (FR), Jules-Henri Gabioud (CH), Franco Collé (IT) and Gianluca Galeati (IT). 
Women’s 2016 champion Lisa Borzani is also ready to see off rivals. She will have similarly strong competition from Silvia Trigueros Garrote (ES), Stephanie Case (PS), Scilla Tonetti (IT) and Marina Plavan (IT).
Our own #TeamMontane athletes are primed and ready too. Petra Mücková (CZ; race no 66), Debbie Martin-Consani (GB; race no 1267), Kevin Hadfield (US; race no 1038), Stefano Gregoretti (IT; race no 1292) and Kota Toriumi (JP; race number 1060) are all excited and nervous simultaneously for the race to begin.
“I am very excited and nervous…petrified. Mostly petrified. It’s the first time I’ve gone over 30 hours of running. But I’m very much looking forward to it, I’ve heard great things about the race.” Debbie Martin-Consani
“I’m a finisher from last year, but I feel like I will do this race for the first time, because we have different conditions. I think the weather will be more difficult and I feel so nervous, the same as last year! I know when I start the route it will be awesome and I will love it. Wish me luck!” Petra Mücková
“I feel excited to start. I’ve been twiddling my thumbs the last two weeks waiting for tomorrow, so a lot of anticipation and I feel pretty good! Should be a good time” Kevin Hadfield
“I’m here for my first TDG. I hope the weather conditions are good for the next few days, because the weather here, like in other environments, plays a very big role and can make a difference in this race…Despite the fact that we are almost 800 runners, we are completely alone in this beautiful environment.” Stefano Gregoretti
The runners set off with blue skies on Sunday and they were cheered off by crowds of supporters. Starting at 1,224m, the first Col (Col Arp) takes contestants to 2,571m, before descending to La Thuile at 1,458m. Another climb up through Rifugio Deffeyes, then further to Passo Alto at 2,857m is the next challenge. A second Col (Col Crosatie, 2,829m), is around the corner, then a descent to the first lifestation at Valgrisenche at 31 miles / 50km in.

Image by Pierre Lucianaz

The first through was Franco Collé at 17:30. He was closely followed by Javier Dominguez-Ledo, Peter Kienzl, Joe Grant, Michele Quagliaroli and more. Runners are still tightly packed at this stage. Most spend no more than 10-15 minutes at Valgrisenche before continuing on the TDG rollercoaster. Up Col Fenêtre (2,854m), down to Rhêmes (1,738m), back on up to Col Entrelor (3,002m), a descent to Eaux Rousses (1,654m). By Rhêmes, two runners had pulled away slightly. Collé is still in pole position at 20:11…but Dominguez-Ledo is only 1 minute behind him. By the time they were recorded at Eaux Rousses, Dominguez-Ledo had made his move, clocking in 2 minutes ahead of Collé at 22:54.
Debbie Martin-Consani was pacing herself over the first section. Arriving at the lifestation at 22:18 and remaining for about 30 minutes also, her focus appeared to be on keeping steady and maintaining her speed. 
At the end of day 1, there were 778 competitors remaining in the race, with 89 withdrawals. With day 2 (11 September) considered the hardest day, how many more will succumb to the beautiful yet brutal Montane Tor des Géants?

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