TDS – Traces des Ducs du Savoie – 119km 7250m positive height gain! 28th August 2013
Georgie – After months of training, preparations and planning the big day finally happened. Dan dropped Mary and I off at 5.30am in Cham where we got a lift with friends through the tunnel to Courmayer in Italy where the race would start at 7am. After a coffee we joined the other 1525 runners (165 females) behind the start line. The noise was deafening, the helicopter was buzzing around, music playing, people cheering and blonging giant cow bells. We had goose pimples, our hearts where beating really fast! The countdown was in Italian. This was it! TRE! DUE! UNO! Everybody surged over the line. We ran through the town feeling like our heads where floating above us. Suddenly we left the noise of the town and all we could hear was the pounding of 1525 pairs of trainers on tarmac. Almost eerie. We slowed down to a brisk walk at the start of our first big climb. (ultra marathons are about not stopping so you walk steadily uphill, unless your elite) The reality of what we had just started hit home.
Slowly and steadily our feet ate away the the kilometres, the ravitos (rest stops) blurred into one, we ran through the first day to the dusk and into the night, the long snaking lines of head torches on the mountain before and after us reminding us that we were not alone. Still we ran, out of the night, through the dawn and into the second day. The morning sun was very welcome and brought with it warmth and a feeling of renewed hope that we would make it to the finish! Mary’s knee was hurting so she made me leave her about 4 hours from the finish, it felt so lonely with out her! As I ran through Chamonix people where stopping to cheer, tears streamed down my face as i realised I might have actually done it! I ran as fast as I could to the line, which I then tripped over! I had been running for 30hrs 41mins 18secs Position 774th overall and 25th in my category! Mary came in an hour later with a time of 31 hrs 41 mins 42 secs! There was only 1020 finishers (99 females) and we were two of them!!
Dan and Áine popped up along the way with spares, a friendly face, a smile and words of encouragement. They were awesome, never once did they miss us, forget anything, complain about being tired or cold, them being there was fantastic, always such a sprit lifter to see them!
Dan – It was a long day for the support crew as well, I dropped Georgie and Mary off, fuelled the car, checked the tyres and fluid levels then returned home to grab a couple more hours sleep. That eluded me as I lay thinking about where the girls were and how they were feeling. I gave up after an hour of trying to sleep and packed the car with the carefully arranged and labelled support bags that the girls wanted us to bring to the two stops they were allowed assistance. As well as warm clothes, food and coffee that would keep me and Áine awake and functioning as long as Georgie and Mary were running. Georgie had signed me up to the mobile text message service so every time her chip was scanned I got a text, Mary did the same for Áine, so we could track there progress.
At 12.45 i collected Áine from Chamonix and we flew through the tunnel to try and meet the girls at the first accessible check point, the Petit col du Saint Bernard which is on the Italian/French border. We had talked to the girls before the stared so had a rough time that they would come through the various check points but they were storming at the early stages and we got a text message saying they had been scanned through the first check point as we were still driving up to the it, so with a bit of frantic, speedy driving manoeuvres we managed to catch them as they left the refreshment point – from then the chase was on to make sure we beat the traffic and speedy runners to the next check points, especially important as we had the supplies they needed.
The hours went by and we found ourselves getting pretty tired, counting became tricky so we kept confusing when we thought they would arrive at the checkpoints – funny what tiredness does to the brain! Our day also turned to dusk and night, sitting on a hill outside desperate to catch Georgie and Mary cheering any runner than came by us. The mist swirled in and out and in the dark the runners all looked alike – floating, bobbing lights in the dark. Only when they were right upon us could we identify them. We didn’t miss them! The girls had run 119km, we had driven 290km!
Then came the finish, the proud feeling seeing Georgie sprint over the line was amazing! She did comically all most trip up across the line and then quickly run away from the man with the microphone, funny how a microphone can give a last surge of energy to evade having to talk french publicly after a hard run! Now she rightly won’t stop wearing and stroking her finishers gillet!
We finished off having a glass of Bubbles by the finishing line – Thank you so much to Pete!! Then went home and fell into bed at 5pm! and slept through till 10 the next day!!