Italy, day eight
And, in the midst of this elation, I think about whether I could take on a race like the Tor des Geants. Like the Tour Divide, it's a race that fits many of my interests and strengths. The sheer length, steepness and technicality of the course forces even the fastest competitors into trekking mode — it's a hiking race, not a trail run. I am a clumsy and slow runner, but I'm a good hiker — indeed, I'm often faster when I'm in hiking mode versus trying to shuffle up these steep slopes. I also do a lot less damage to my own body when I don't try to run — my tender feet can feel pretty trashed after a six-hour 50K, but all of the hiking I did this week had no effect on my feet, and only a little on my legs. To a certain extent I can operate okay on heavy sleep deprivation as long as I keep the calories coming in. And as long as I don't trash my feet (admittedly, this is quite unlikely over that much distance) and eat enough, I think I could thrive in the environment of the Tor des Geants. And of course, I could just hike the whole Alta Via della Valle d'Aosta without the structure of a race. I would love this, but at the same time, there is a side of me that relishes in the extreme challenge offered by the TDG, made possible by the support of the race organization and the simple drive to complete the course in a time that might otherwise be impossible. Racing is motivation to push beyond suffering and personal limits, and in its own way, suffering becomes a meaningful and rewarding experience in itself. It's why, if I ever go back to the Tour Divide, I don't think I would be satisfied to tour the GDMBR at a leisurely pace, even though I love bicycle touring. No, the GDMBR carries a different meaning for me, and I'm not sure I could return without the drive to complete the course faster and better than I did the first time.
We traveled together down to Ollomont, where Beat decided to sleep for two hours before having the race medics tape his feet. Martina was sweet and waited with me until Beat woke up so I could see him off and take his bag, given this was the last major checkpoint. Beat limped away from Ollomont at about 1:30 a.m., into another long night.