Monthly Archives - September 2016

Oliviero Bosatelli

The Tor Des Geants 2016: Battling the Giants

The Tor Des Geants 2016: Battling the Giants

September 14, 2016

By Alice Hunter Morrison

Moroccan-based journalist, winner of Best Africa Blog, a writer for RunUltra, author of “Dodging Elephants: 8000 Miles Across Africa by Bike” and Special Correspondent for IRUN4ULTRA, a subsidiary of Hope So Bright.

Oliviero Bosatelli

Oliviero Bosatelli

The Tor Des Geants 2016. Its name describes it perfectly – the Tour of Giants. This year’s edition has proved to be truly great with hard-fought racing and magnificent feats of endurance from the competitors.
The race kicked off from Courmayeur, Italy on Sunday, February 11, at 10 a.m. and the first runner back, the winner of this year’s race after a superb effort, was Oliviero Bosatelli, who crossed the finish line at 13:10 p.m. on Wednesday with 74 hours and 10 minutes of racing over some of the highest passes in Europe.
Bosatelli had run 336 kilometers with 24,000 meters of ascent along the Alta Via 1 and Alta Via 2 of the Valle d’Aosta with its four giants – Gran Paradiso, Monte Rosa, Matterhorn, and Mont Blanc – and back to the finish line at Courmayeur.
Oscar Perez Lopez came in second place just over six hours later at 19:14 p.m., with Pablo Criado Toca in third place, finishing at 21:40 p.m.
Lisa Borzani, ran an incredible race and came in first at 5:09 a.m. on Thursday. She finished in seventh place overall. She had already taken second place on the podium twice, so this victory was especially sweet for the 36-year-old from Padua. Stephanie Case finished in second place. She said that one of the big challenges of the race was just keeping awake and that she had a novel way of doing that.  “I am on the phone to my Mum,” she said, “We are playing games to try and keep my brain active so that I don’t fall asleep!”
A totally unpredictable race due to its length and sheer difficulty, you would have to be a betting man to confidently predict the winner. The mountains, the weather, being able to get enough food and rest and still keep going, all work against the favorites as we witnessed this year.
Three of the top-ranked athletes were forced to withdraw after almost 32 hours. They included Gianluca Galeati, who had led for the first 150 kilometers of the race and looked very strong. He suffered a stomach ache. He had experienced a bug about three weeks before the race and thought he had recovered. However, the mountains put too much of a strain on him and he had to pull out.
Michele Graglia, another hot prospect for the overall winner, also dropped out as did Denise Zimmermann, who was last year’s women’s champion.
So how did Bosatelli, the 47-year-old fireman from a town outside of Bergamo, Italy, whose longest previous distance run was 180 meters, do? What was his strategy? According to an interview he gave at the halfway stage, he said, “I don’t have a strategy, I’m just following how I feel. And what I feel is good.”
He certainly did well! If you were following the race live, you would have noticed that he shifted into high gear at Cogne after 106 kilometers and kept the pressure up from there. He was the first to get into Valtourneche, where he ate a three-course meal including dessert and a beer – our kind of man!
This has been a torrid year for the race itself as the organizers, VdA trailers, became embroiled in a fight with the local authority. The Autonomous Region of the Aosta Valley had organized a competing endurance trail running event to be raced clockwise along the Alte Vie 1 and 2 high-mountain trails, at an altitude between 300 and 3,300 meters, a 350 kilometer circuit with 25,000 meters elevation gain to start and end in Cogne, in the heart of the Gran Paradiso National Park.
In the next twist, VdA trailers took the local authority to court and the following judgment was made in March: “The Tribunal of Turin considers the actions of the Region regarding Vda Trailers and the Tor des Geants 2016 ® to be damaging and harmful and considers the 4K race organized by the Region to be harmful of the rights of VdA Trailers and of the normal operation of the Tor des Geants 2016, since it overlaps it regarding route, length, altitude difference and duration. Specifically, the Tribunale prohibits, effective immediately, the Autonomous Valle d’Aosta Region and the Forte di Bard Association from accepting registrations and collecting the related registration fees for the ‘4k Alpine Endurance Trail Valle d’Aosta’ event planned from September 3 – 9, 2016.”
The Local Authority counter-attacked and got its own judgment in June: “The Regional Administrative Court of Valle d’Aosta has rejected today, Tuesday, June 14, the suspension request filed by the association VDA Trailers for the annulment of the effectiveness of the resolutions adopted by the Regional Council institutive of 4K Alpine Endurance Trail.”
Following this, the 4K Alpine Endurance Trail held its first edition from September 3 through 9, which was won by Peter Kienzl in 82 hours and 53 minutes.
Regardless of this ongoing drama, the Tor Des Geants 2016 continues to be one of the greats on the ultra racing calendar with its stunning landscapes, high passes, evil ascents and wicked descents, no sleep, not enough food, and the pitting of men (and women) against the toughest of elements.
Congratulations to the winners and best of luck to those still running in the mountains.

Top 12 Ultras

The Top 12 Ultras on the Planet

The Top 12 Ultras on the Planet

By Alice Hunter Morrison

Moroccan-based journalist, winner of Best Africa Blog, writer for RunUltra, author of “Dodging Elephants: 8000 Miles Across Africa by Bike” and Special Correspondent for IRUN4ULTRA.

“Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up. It knows it must outrun the fastest lion or it will be killed. Every morning in Africa, a lion wakes up. It knows it must run faster than the slowest gazelle, or it will starve. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a lion or a gazelle – when the sun comes up, you’d better be running.”
from Christopher McDouglall’s “Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen

Human beings are born to run. Whenever you watch a group of six year olds chasing each other around the yard for no other reason than they can, you clearly witness the instinct to run. As the years wear on and life gets more complex, we start training and goal setting. We find partners to run with and follow programs. We look for things to achieve and ways to keep our love of running fresh.

The wonderful thing about ultrarunning is that there are more races and events to choose from – deserts, mountains, jungles, and cities. Wherever you want to run, you can be sure that a race waiting there for you.

The following is a list of the top twelve ultras on the planet to celebrate the joy of running. We have included many of the lesser-known races as well as the large international favorites. Get out your passport and add these to your bucket list!


Photo credit Ultra Fiord

1. Ultra Fiord

Ultra Fiord takes place in the extreme southern end of the Chilean Patagonia, a magical world of fiords and glaciers with high, jagged peaks and stunning coastlines.  There are five events to choose from, from a 50 kilometer to a 100 miler.

“It has the potential to be a big, classic world race. It seems to me like what Hardrock was in the beginning, like before they thought, ‘Oh, we should probably put a fixed rope on the snowfield coming off Virginius Pass’. I really think it has the original Hardrock spirit.” — Jeff Browning (United States), 100-Mile Winner

Patagonia is one of the last remaining wilderness areas in the world and a place of breathtaking natural beauty. You will have to be ready for unpredictable weather and lots of climbing. Mud, peat bogs, glacier-filled mountains, and big rocks, will push you to your limits.”


2.  Fat Ass Runs

We love Fat Ass runs! Fat Ass is the name given to a series of low key runs that are frequented by experienced runners and walkers and characterized by the phrase, “No Fees, No Awards, No Aid, No Wimps.” Passionate runners that participate in the events organize these runs, which are free to enter. Because the runs are not considered races in any

Photo credit Fat Ass Races

Photo credit Fat Ass Races

sense, there is no guarantee of anything other than a course on which to run. There are no course marshals markers, nor aid. They are an exercise in self-help. One thing you are guaranteed is a group of friendly runners who love the sport. Put Fat Ass Runs + your region into a Google search to find one near you. To get started, visit Philadelphia’s offering: https://www.rocky50k.com/

3. Big Red Run

The Australian outback offers numerous challenges for any runner. With 250 kilometers over six days, the Big Red Run course includes a mixture of sand dunes, open gibber plains, clay flats, salt lakes and a few station tracks. And, for those of you who don’t know what a “gibber plain” is, it comes from the Aboriginal word for stone and represents what is left when the sand and dust are blown away by the desert winds. Blowing sand polishes and smoothes the stones and gravel.  In runners’ language that means – ouch! https://www.bigredrun.com.au/bigredrun/index

Photo Credit Big Red Run

Photo Credit Big Red Run

4. Cape Wrath Ultra

From the Australian outback to the rain-drenched beauty of the Highlands of Scotland, the Cape Wrath Ultra is an eight-day, 400 kilometer beast. Starting in Fort William, the race takes competitors on an historic journey linking ancient footpaths and remote tracks to the furthest northwesterly point of the British Isles, Cape Wrath.  Surrounded by lochs and bens,

Photo credit runultra

Photo credit runultra

running through glens and crossing rivers and waterfalls, this is a real Highlands experience with all the romance and heartbreak (leg break) that word conjures.

The good news is that you do not have to carry your own backpack! As a supported ultra running expedition, competitors’ equipment is transported each day with tented accommodation and meals provided at overnight camps.    https://www.capewrathultra.com/

5. The Western States 100

This race includes one of the most coveted pieces of “bling” there is – runners finishing before the 30-hour overall time limit for the race receive a commemorative bronze belt buckle. Runners finishing in less than 24 hours receive a silver belt buckle. If you have one of the silver buckles, you have made it as an ultra runner.

Photo credit Western States Endurance Run

Photo credit Western States Endurance Run

The Western States Endurance Run, known commonly as the Western States 100, is a 100-mile (161 kilometer) ultramarathon that takes place annually on trails in California’s Sierra Nevada Mountains during the last weekend in June. The race starts at the base of the Squaw Valley ski resort and finishes at the Placer High School track in Auburn, California. The terrain is rugged, frequently with snow on the ground at the highest passes, and hot temperatures in the low valleys near the end of the course. Runners ascend a cumulative total of 18,090 feet (5500 meters) and descend a total of 22,970 feet (7000 meters) on mountain trails before reaching the finish line. Because of the length of the race, it begins at 5 AM and continues through the day and into the night.   https://www.wser.org/

6. The Jungle Ultra (Peru)

Photo credit The Jungle Ultra Peru

Photo credit The Jungle Ultra Peru

This race is five stages, 230 kilometers, and includes 100 percent humidity, which takes a toll on most competitors. The race organizers proudly say, “Sweating is useless.” This jungle ultra takes you through virgin Peruvian rain forest where entrants run across tough jungle trails, mountain roads, and village tracks, making their way from the Cloud Forest and down 10,500 feet into the Amazon Jungle below.  Runners experience the virgin forests, diverse wildlife, and numerous tribes of the Peruvian Amazon Rainforest. https://www.beyondtheultimate.co.uk/jungle-ultra.asp

7. Self-Transcendence 3100-Mile Race

You don’t need to leave home to do this one. The New York Times has called this ultra the


Photo credit uk.srichinmoyraces.org

“Everest of ultra running”. And, it is easy to see why. The concept is that entrants must average 59.6 miles per day for 52 straight days in order to reach 3100 miles. The surface is concrete sidewalks around a playground, ball fields, and the confines of a vocational high

school – all within a city neighborhood setting. Participants must run these miles within an 18-hour daily format. Limited to invited athletes who have a resume of multi-day running experience and elite endurance ability; entry into this race is at the Race Director’s discretion. https://3100.srichinmoyraces.org/

8. The Iditarod Trail Invitational

Photo credit the Iditarod Trail Invitational

Photo credit the Iditarod Trail Invitational

Although this is not entirely a running race, it has an on-foot component (and as it is totally

awesome). The Iditarod Trail Invitational is the world’s longest winter ultramarathon by fat

bike, foot and ski, and follows the historic Iditarod Trail from Knik, Alaska over the Alaska Range to McGrath, and then to Nome in late February every year one week before the Iditarod Sled Dog Race. The short race (350 miles) finishes in the interior village of McGrath on the Kuskokwim River and the 1000-mile race finishes in Nome. Racers have to finish the 350-mile race in a previous year before they can enter the 1000-mile race. https://iditarodtrailinvitational.com/

9.  STYR Labs Badwater® 135

Covering 135 miles (217 kilometers) on road non-stop from Death Valley to Mt. Whitney, CA,styr-labs-badwater-135-credit-i-run-4-ultra the Badwater 135 is the most demanding and extreme one-stage running race offered anywhere on the planet. The start line is at Badwater, Death Valley, which marks the lowest elevation in North America at 280 feet (85 meters) below sea level and boasts some of the hottest temperatures in the world. The race finishes at Whitney Portal at 8,300 feet (2530 meters). The Badwater 135 course covers three mountain ranges for a total of 14,600 feet (4450 meters) of cumulative vertical ascent and 6,100 feet (1859 meters) of cumulative descent. You have to be a brave man or woman to attempt it! https://www.badwater.com/event/badwater-135/

10.  Tor des Géants

tor-des-geants-credit-tor-des-geantsThe Tor des Géants takes place in the Aosta Valley, Italy. You have 150 hours to complete the race, which is more than 200 miles (336 kilometers) and has an altitude range of 24,000 meters. This race is different in that there are no set stages or cut off times (except for the final 150 hours). Runners have to make all of their own decisions. There are 43 feed stops and seven “life” stations. Because this race is so challenging, only about 60 percent of the competitors finish it. If you want to truly push yourself to the limit, this might be the race for you! https://www.tordesgeants.it/en

11.  Marathon des Sablesmarathon-des-sables-credit-dino-bonelli

It’s called the “toughest footrace on earth” and takes place
annually in the Sahara Desert of Morocco, North Africa. Equating to roughly six marathons in six days, it is self-sufficient and requires that runners carry their equipment and food.  The race is around 250 kilometers (156 miles) long. Temperatures regularly reach 50 degrees centigrade. The intense heat, the glare of the burning sands, the struggle up the high
mountains, and the war of attrition on competitors’ feet have made this race the stuff of legends.  https://marathondessables.co.uk/

12. UTMB

UTMBFirst place for any race is going to be controversial, so why have we chosen UTMB? The Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc is a single-stage mountain ultramarathon. It takes place annually in the Alps, and follows the route of the Tour du Mont Blanc through FranceItaly, and Switzerland. It has a distance of approximately 166 kilometers (103 miles), and a total elevation gain of around 9,600 meters. It is also huge in terms of participation – 2000 runners start the UTMB and 10,000 take part in its combined events. You can only enter if you have gained enough points during the year to qualify. The best mountain runners in the world participate. Although you could argue that many of the races on this list should get top billing (and there are many others we haven’t included here) but for sheer size, splendor, and history, the UTMB is our current number one.   https://utmbmontblanc.com/en/

Happy running!


The role of running in the treatment of depression, anxiety disorders and addiction

anxiety The role of running in the treatment of depression and anxiety disorders and addiction

By Alice Morrison

Moroccan-based journalist, winner of Best Africa Blog, a writer for RunUltra, author of “Dodging Elephants: 8000 Miles Across Africa by Bike” and Special Correspondent for IRUN4ULTRA.


Although I was never formally diagnosed (because I never sought help) four years ago I almost certainly had depression and was working very hard on giving myself a drinking problem. I would certainly tick Yes on most of the questions on those ‘Spot if you have a drink problem’ medical leaflets. I was living away for work reasons and would travel by train at the weekends. One weekend I was very close to stepping off the platform in front of a high-speed train. I would run a little bit with the military but not a lot. I knew I needed to dig myself out of the hole I was in but not how. On a holiday someone mentioned the Lakeland 50 race. Knowing nothing about ultra running and running maybe five miles once a fortnight I signed up. Then I started training. I read a few things on how to train for these types of events and then started training properly. On the New Years Eve I stopped drinking – partly to help me train but mainly because I knew what it was still doing to me. Nine months after starting to train I completed the Lakeland 50. Running, and ultra running in particular, has helped me get myself out of the hole I was in. The black dog still comes to visit sometimes but I’m now better equipped to deal with him.”


Mental health issues such as depression and anxiety disorders and addictions to alcohol, drugs, and nicotine affect a huge number of families worldwide. According to The National Institute of Mental Health in the U.S. (NIMH) In 2014, there were an estimated 43.6 million adults aged 18 or older in the United States with mental health Issues. This number represented 18.1% of all U.S. adults.
This number does not include the statistics for addiction. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism found that 16.3 million adults ages 18 and older (6.8 percent of this age group) had an Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD) in 2014. This includes 10.6 million men (9.2 percent of men in this age group) and 5.7 million women (4.6 percent of women in this age group).
The figures from the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA) make equally somber reading: NIDA estimates that the use of illegal drugs costs the U.S. €11 billion per year in health care and $193 billion in loss to the economy.


In the face of this epidemic, can something as simple as running really help?  Well, yes, is the answer. There has been a great deal of clinical research carried out over the past couple of decades in the use of exercise for treating depression and anxiety and also addictions. The Royal College of Psychiatrists in the UK says on its website. “Why does exercise work? We are not yet exactly sure. There are several possibilities.  

  • Most people in the world have always had to keep active to get food, water, and shelter. This involves a moderate level of activity and seems to make us feel good. We may be built – or “hard-wired” – to enjoy a certain amount of exercise. Harder exercise (perhaps needed to fight or flight from danger) seems to be linked to feelings of stress, perhaps because it is needed for escaping from danger.     
  • Exercise seems to have an effect on certain chemicals in the brain, like dopamine and serotonin. Brain cells use these chemicals to communicate with each other, so they affect your mood and thinking.
  • Exercise can stimulate other chemicals in the brain called “brain-derived neurotrophic factors”. These help new brain cells to grow and develop. Moderate exercise seems to work better than vigorous exercise.
  • Exercise seems to reduce harmful changes in the brain caused by stress. “



“I’ve always been against using any form of drugs that I absolutely don’t need (alcohol being the notable exception in the past few years.) When I went through a tough divorce, a counselor was suggesting the use of anti-depression medication and I skipped it with the understanding that I ran to accomplish similar goals. Running continued to be a great form of stress management and social interaction and eventually, I did my first impromptu marathon plus a little more while checking a course I was RD’ing the next day. This was eventually followed by a more official 50km. I’ve always known that I have an addictive personality and I realize running is now my addiction but I’m mostly OK with that. Someday, I may be forced to find another form of addiction but until then, running is my drug.
It was a very conscious decision not to add anti-depressants to my world and the counselor I was seeing asked, “why not?” I said I would rather deal with the root of the issue than treat the symptoms. In the year leading up to my divorce, I was isolated in a small apartment in Pittsburgh that was noisy and my ex-wife was hardly ever around; She basically came home to shower and sleep while working on her Ph.D. The social isolation did a number on me and about halfway through that year, I started cycling again because I had gained a lot of weight. At the time of my separation, I moved back to Tucson, AZ (where my job was) and started cycling a lot. I was riding up the local mountain several times a week and it wasn’t enough to deal with my grief. My body was often exhausted but I still had more to deal with mentally. It was at this point that my boss (an ultra runner) said, “Ya, know… you should run.” He told me about a group that met every Tues/Thurs for speedwork and I started going. I found myself surrounded by people who made healthy decisions and good life choices and made a very conscious decision to let myself feel peer pressure from them in order to improve my own life. So … for me running was about rebuilding the social part of my brain which had atrophied in isolation for a year, rebuilding my body and managing stress. I lost over 100lbs, gained friends and healthy habits.”


We asked Tanya Woolf, Consultant Counseling Psychologist, Efficacy if this chimed with her experience of treating Depression.
“Typically with Depression, you get into a vicious cycle. You feel low on motivation, so you don’t do anything and then low levels of activity make you feel more depressed.  One of the first treatments for depression is behavioral activation – doing something that gives you a sense of achievement and pleasure.”
“Exercise helps in two ways: on the psychological level it gives you that sense of achievement and – hopefully – pleasure, and physically it releases endorphins.”


For almost all of us who run, one of the great joys of it is that you have time in nature. Research has shown that this can add to the benefits. In a study called “Acute effects of outdoor physical activity on effect and psychological well-being in depressed patients” the researchers found:
“A single outdoor exercise bout showed greater affective improvements compared to indoor and sedentary equivalents for self-reported excitement and activation. As patients felt more active, an outdoor setting might be useful in overcoming listlessness during depression treatment. “


Krasse Gueorguiev is a keen ultra runner but also studied Psychology and worked in Victim Support. He used running as one of his tools to help clients.
“I used to work at Victim support in London for quite a few years and dealt with domestic violence rape etc…. and also had some private clients that would come to me with addictions from drugs to smoking and eating. So I would get them to concentrate on doing sports that can be by themselves for a period of time like a running for a few hours where I would ask them to think of solving mechanisms while running. Nothing in particular just think of their daily lives and see how they see it on the go.”
Tanya Woolf, adds, One of the things that is often observed in addiction is that people pursue their goal (be it drugs, drink or anything else) at the expense of all previously valued goals. So, having a new, valued goal such as a race, can help displace the old, unhealthy one. Also in addiction, people very often get the notion that they don’t have control, that their addiction controls them. Any goal-oriented exercise and ultra running is a fantastic example, gives the person a sense of control. Instead of your addiction controlling you, you are controlling your body.”


Research and expert opinion shows that running really does have a role to play in combating a range of mental health problems.  According to the study, “The Benefits of Exercise for the Clinically Depressed”:

Many studies have examined the efficacy of exercise to reduce symptoms of depression, and the overwhelming majority of these studies have described a positive benefit associated with exercise involvement.
Additionally, exercise compares quite favorably with standard care approaches to depression in the few studies that have evaluated their relative efficacy. For example, running has been compared with psychotherapy in the treatment of depression, with results indicating that running is just as effective as psychotherapy in alleviating symptoms of depression “
Compelling as the scientific research is, inspiration is at the human level so let us leave you with a final story from the ultra running community.


“How (ultra) running helped me. Being a victim of a heinous crime… kidnap victim of an aggravated sexual assault by four men, running, in general, has played a big part in my therapy. I’m training for my first 50km in October and ultra running helps me cope. It reminds me to overcome and conquer my fears. I was destroyed and I learned to rebuild my life again. I was also an addict for over almost 12 years which I don’t share openly. I quit cold turkey and never looked back. Running and living a healthy life has been my “addiction”. Not losing my sanity after the sexual assault on Christmas Eve and Christmas day is also on my priority list. It’s been a long road but running besides God and family is most important in my life.”
Many thanks to all who shared their stories with us and congratulations on your recovery and transformation


Oliviero Bosatelli race Leader

Race Leader: The 1st to enter the Campo Vita was Oliviero Bosatelli. He arrived at Cogne at 4:55 and came out at 5:04.
In the photo, he’s exiting the Campo Vita. His physical and mental conditions were impressive: it seemed he had just left Courmayeur, he was really fresh, motivated, calm.
Oliviero Bosatelli

Race Leader Julien Voaffray arrived in 2nd position, with about 1 hour of delay.
Race Leader


Italian Andrea Macchi in 5th position

Italian Andrea Macchi, in 5th position, leads a group of three runners. Behind him, two runners from Spain: Julio Aldecoa Cernuda, tenth in 2015, and (with a blue jersey) Oscar Perez Lopez from Spain, one of the great favorites of this race, winner of Tor des Geants in 2012.


Silvia Trigueros Garrote,1st woman to arrive at Valgrisenche

Silvia Trigueros Garrote is the 1st woman to arrive at Valgrisenche, mile 31 (km 50). She enters the Base Vita at 6:37 PM and leaves it at 6:57.  20 minutes of stop, mainly to eat some pasta and to drink some hot tea. After a hot day the weather is changing, and when Silvia leaves the Base Vita it starts to rain.


Eric Breton arrives at Valgrisenche Campo Vita

Eric Breton from Canada arrives at Valgrisenche Campo Vita 16 minute after the race leader Galeati.
Here, he is at just 3 minutes from Campo Vita, in the final section of a difficult climb, where all runners had to walk instead of running.


Km 50 (mile 31), Valgrisenche

Galerti Gianluca is leading Tor des Géants 2016. The race is a unique footrace that has met with a sensational success since its first edition. The Tor des Géants®, in the heart of the Italian Alps, is the world’s longest ultra trail (in terms of both elevation gain and kilometers) which crosses the entire Aosta Valley in a single stage.
Tor des Geants 2016 route will run along the Alta Via 1 and Alta Via 2 of the Valle d’Aosta, with the start and finishing line in Courmayeur, and will cover a total of around 336km (200 miles), with an altitude range of 24,000 meters. The landscape at the foot of the region’s Four-Thousanders makes the route especially spectacular.
Along the route there will be a number of rest, rescue and refreshment points, as well as seven larger bases that will divide the route up into seven sectors:
  • Courmayeur – Valgrisenche:                 50 km 4747 D+
  • Valgrisenche – Cogne:                          58 km 5082 D+
  • Cogne – Donnas:                                  45 km 2698 D+
  • Donnas – Gressoney St Jean:              54 km 6086 D+
  • Gressoney St Jean – Valtournenche:   33 km 3187 D+
  • Valtournenche – Ollomont:                   48 km 4904 D+
  • Ollomont – Courmayeur:                      50 km 4210 D+

Andrea Macchi & Julio Aldecoa

Tor des Geants

Andrea Macchi & Julio Aldecoa

Eric Breton
Tor des Géants
Galerti Gianluca
Oliviero Bosatelli
Tor des Géants

Tor Des Geants

Tor Des Geants – TDG Race Start

TDG Race Start: As you are reading this update, more than 800 runners are, at this moment, racing in Valle D’Aosta, Italy, undertaking the brutal challenge of Tor Des Geants. The race started at  12am USA TIME. and the participants have quite a distance to cover – total distance of 336km, 24,000m D+ in 150 hours.

BODA Comunicazione Grafica Vido by Stefano Scarafia for IRUN4ULTRA
TDG Race Start TDG Race Start TDG Race Start TDG Race Start TDG Race Start

Meredith June

Meredith June Edwards: Elite Athlete Interview

Meredith June Edwards: Elite Athlete Interview
By Alice Hunter Morrison
Moroccan-based journalist, winner of Best Africa Blog, writer for RunUltra, author of “Dodging Elephants: 8000 Miles Across Africa by Bike,” and Special Correspondent for IRUN4ULTRA, a subsidiary of Hope So Bright.

Meredith June Edwards

Photo Credit: © UTMB® – photo : Pascal Tournaire

Meredith June Edwards, Mere June, or Night Mere, as she says her friends like to call her, is an elite trail and ultra runner and ski mountaineer. She is from Jackson, Wyoming and says Wyoming is exactly where she wants to be in the world, “Love me some Tetons!” is her favorite phrase.
She took second place in the TDS (Sur les Traces des Ducs de Savoie) in August, one of the races at the great mountain festival of running,  UTMB (Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc) in Chamonix, and came in 35th. The race is 119 kilometers long with a huge 7,250 meters of ascent. This was a real triumph for the talented American. We caught up with her just after the race.
Q: Congratulations on your fantastic run, Meredith, did you think you would be on the podium?
A:  I was shocked! Last year I came in 10th at CCC. This year I thought, top five. Never did I think I would go out and lead the race and then come in second place. I didn’t know where I was in the placings until 52 kilometers when my support crew said I was number one. Then I had to tell myself, “Don’t freak out. Head down. There is a lot of race left, and a lot can happen.”
Q: Didn’t you actually led the race for a lot of the way – ahead of the eventual winner, Delphine Avenier?
A: She wasn’t far off for most of the day. I would see her at the aid stations. We were neck and neck. We swapped leads. The longest climb of the race was after 51 kilometers and we were together that whole climb. It was so hot that I was saying, “Tres Chaud,” and she kept saying, “Go slow.”
Q: How did you feel when she passed you?
A: It is a humbling experience. I don’t like to get passed.
Q: It was incredibly hot out there. How did that impact your nutrition and hydration?
A: I was really worried on that long climb as it was the hottest part of the day. I tried to eat lots of food. I didn’t have enough salt in me nor did I take salt tablets. That was a mistake! Last year, I got through the CCC by just eating the soup at the aid stations. But this year it was super hot.
Q: The whole course is tricky, but was there anything that stood out?
A: The climb down from the Col de Tricot was the steepest stretch I have ever done. It was HEINOUS! But the hardest place to run was coming out of Cormet de Roselend. We had to run through a cow pasture. It was uneven and all mud. Kind of frustrating! I don’t think I have cursed so much in my life.
Q: How did TDS compare to some of the U.S. races you do? Many American athletes tell us running in Europe is different.
A: I do sky running in the U.S. and we try to mimic European sky running. I would say that CCC is comparable to that. But TDS was a whole different thing. At times it didn’t even feel like I was on a trail. It was extremely rocky and steep. I am from Jackson and the Tetons are technical but this terrain was very hard, steep, and unique.
Q: Tell us about your training for this event.
A: I am strong on the uphill and can hold a good gear, but last year at CCC, my speed wasn’t there. Eric Orton, my coach, sat me down and said we needed to improve my speed. I went back to the track and did interval work with repeats every Monday. This really paid off as it made my race pace easier. I made great time in the flat sections when I could run hard and it helped on the uphills.  I find that ski mountaineering racing (skimo) strengthens my uphill capability. I also weight train. I have worked with the same trainer, Chris Butler, for two years. I can now deadlift almost double my bodyweight.
Q: What’s next for you, now that you have this big achievement under your belt?
A: I want to do the Everest Base Camp marathon in May. A personal ambition of mine is to climb up Denali. I really want to go over there and experience the culture.

Meredith June Edwards

Photo Credit: © UTMB® – photo : Pascal Tournaire


  • She likes hard dates (the fruit…).
  • She dated a Frenchman for a year and a half and his mom came out to support her during TDS, which almost made her cry.
  • She has beat men and women alike to become first and has set the course record for running around a volcano in the Philippines.
  • She has a dog called Mo who is a “Chug,” which a cross between a Chihuahua and a Pug.
  • The favorite song on her playlist is “Broken Arrow.”

Thanks for talking to us at IRun4Ultra Meredith, and good luck with your next challenge!
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