Shadowing the Tor des Geants
No. No. No.
I hiked with Beat for about 90 minutes beyond Donnas before I had to turn around and drive back to Courmayeur so I could work all through Tuesday night on deadline. During this night, I got quite sick — vomiting, sore throat, and what felt like a fever. But, sigh, no complaints. How was Beat managing all of this?
My plan was to park the small rental car at the life base and sleep for a few hours in the back, as there wasn't enough time left before Beat's arrival to drive all the way back to Courmayeur. Unfortunately, I didn't have any blankets or really anything more than a spare coat to stay warm, and the temperature dropped to 1 degree Celsius by the time we arrived in Valtornenche. The TdG doesn't provide accommodations for crew — you're not even supposed to wait in the tents — so we were stuck. I was exhausted and slept for about 40 minutes before I shivered myself awake, but poor Gabi was especially miserable. She decided to go wait in the tent while I stubbornly opted to stay in the car (I'm self-conscious about being unwelcome as a non-racer.) After about 20 minutes I woke up again with completely numb hands and feet. It was concerning enough that I went for a run through the streets to bring the circulation back to my limbs. Then I continued to lie in the car and shiver until Beat arrived at about 4 a.m.
The Ollomont stop also kept me out until the pre-dawn hours, and when I returned to Courmayeur at 5 a.m. I was quite ill, yet again. The entire time I was in Italy, I felt like I was operating on meager strands of energy reserves that I'd managed to restock through whatever sleep I could grab. But once those reserves were spent, I was fully spent. By Friday morning I was nearly as bad off as I'd been two weeks earlier when I dropped out of PTL. There had been hopeful plans to join Beat on the final big climb of TdG — the stunning 9,600-foot Col Malatra — but there was really no way to make it happen. Honestly, someone could have offered me a check for $5,000 to climb that pass and I would have regretfully turned them down. My body outright refused and then locked me in the bathroom for good measure. It was impossible.
Ana also finished the Tor des Geants, arriving after 143 hours, 8 minutes, and 2 seconds early Saturday morning. She was 19th out of 38 female finishers, and 255th overall. I was really excited for her as well, and I also don't understand how she did it. But the Italian Alps are incredible, and I think both of them agree it was worth it. As do I.