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Debbie Martin-Consani on Tor

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Friday 29th September 2017
Debbie Martin-Consani, ultra runner, Scottish and British international, Montane athlete, owner of one of the coolest Twitter names ever (@UltraRunDMC), recently added to her long list of achievements by completing the epic Montane Tor des Geants race. 330km in the Italian Alps with 24,000m of ascent. She told us about her experience...

During the race I slept for... less than eight hours in total.  I can’t usually function without eight hours a night, so my brain was mush from day two.   The most I had at one point was two hours and the rest were broken up with less than one-hour power naps.   It’s pretty amazing how much better you can feel with only one hour though.
After the race I slept for ... ever!  Physically I felt OK.  I was surprised I didn’t have any DOMS, but I can’t even explain the fatigue I had the week after.  I also kept waking up startled and panicking thinking I was still in the race and had to keep moving.   


The kit I relied on was... everything Montane!  I was lucky enough to get some of the SS18 kit and prototypes for next winter to try out.  I don’t think there’s a better testing ground than Tor des Geants.   Best bits of kit were the Allez micro hoodie, which was the mandatory lightweight fleece hoodie and the prism gloves.
The food that got me through was... Tomato pasta.  That’s the Tor’s signature dish.  And some watery salty soup, which you would turn your nose up at any day of the week but was just what my body was craving.
The food I craved afterwards was... Not tomato pasta or watery salty soup.  I really wanted chips.  I always want chips.  And anything you can put in toast… beans, avocado, PB&J.

Deb TDG7

The most difficult day was...  The fourth section between Donnas (151km) and Gressonay (205km) is the toughest.  It looks undulating on the profile, but it’s relentless and can take up to 24 hours to compete.   I’m led to believe that the majority of drop outs happen at Gressonay and I can understand why.  I think the last night was the most difficult for me.  It was below freezing when I left the life base at 11pm.  It goes up to 3000 metres and I got pretty cold and incoherent.  I didn’t have the energy to stay warm, so was a bit of mess when I got to the checkpoint at dawn.  Plenty of the aforementioned pasta and soup and a short nap sorted me out though.
Things I'd do differently... Not spend so much time at checkpoints.  I was doing the race unsupported, which was harder than I thought.  I didn’t mean to faff so much, but I’d lost the ability to think for myself.  At one life base I spent 90 minutes packing the same things into the same pack that I’d carried for days.

Deb TDG2

Things that kept me going when it got really tough... Just getting it done.  I had no aspirations about finishing time and position, as it was my own personal challenge.  Nothing short of a limb falling off would have made me stop.  I wanted the finish real bad.  I also received lots of a lovely messages from people back home following the race and willing me on. 
Crossing the finishing line felt... Amazing!  I doubt there will be many things in my life that will compare to the Tor.  Don’t quote me on that though.  Ultra-runners are famed for pushing the boundaries of stupidity. 

Deb TDG8

My feet are...  Not too shabby actually.  I didn’t even need to change my shoes.  Usually my feet – blisters, hot spots and bruised toenails – are my weakness, but they were fine.  I kept on top of footcare and wore only one pair of Scott Supertrac RC. 
Lessons I learned... Although I thought I was doing this as a solo adventure, I was never alone.  From the people I met in the race, the supporters out on the course, the volunteers who sorted me out when I got in a right mess, to the dot watchers back home, so many people played a big part in my journey.
Given the dream choice of winning the World 24-hour Championships, the Tor or the World Trail Championships I'd go for... Wow.  Big question.  Maybe the Tor.  Although Liza Borzani (three times finisher and record holder) is so adored in the region, I’d probably be lynched. 

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