Shadowing the Tor des Geants, 2015
Just as I was returning from Val Sapin, the clouds broke open and heavy rain began to fall. This continued for the entire night as Beat and 800 other TDG runners made their way over high passes where precipitation changed to freezing rain, and then snow. A landslide on one of the passes and concerns about ice prompted the race organizers to pause the race for three hours, and runners were forced to wait at the closest aid stations. Beat and several other friends were crammed into a small, high-altitude refuge, where they were drenched and freezing, and their wasn't even enough space for everyone to sit down. Beat was well prepared with extra dry clothing and microspikes for the ice, but many other runners had only the bare minimum of required gear. The scenario sounded like something of a mess, but not unexpected in the Alps in September. There were quite a few who dropped from the race and some rescues, but as far as I know, no major injuries.
"Oh, I'm not in the Tor des Geants," I said. "I'm just hiking."
"You should be in Tor," he said. "You go very fast."
Ha ha, if only he knew. I smiled. This friendly guy had already missed a night of sleep and traveled nearly a hundred kilometers of endless ups and downs. He probably had no conception of how much he'd slowed down himself, when I was well-rested — well, not really well-rested, but my legs were fresh. Still, part of the reason I'd been feeling down was regret about how slow I am on mountain terrain, so I took his complement gratefully. "Thanks," I said. "But I can only be fast because I've been sleeping."
I wondered if this might be an impetus to coax Beat into planning more self-supported adventures, where you don't have worry about cut-offs or cancellations. He's excited about the prospect, but there's almost no doubt that he'll return to the Tor des Geants — and I probably will too, someday.