TOR DES GEANTS 2021: the first numbers

Franco Collé, winner of Tor Des Geants 2021 in 66h43′ (new record!) (Photo by Facebook-Franco Collé)

Tor Des Geants is one of the most fascinating races in the Endurance Races panorama with its 330 km and 24,000 meters of elevation gain along the beautiful trails of Alta Via Numero1 and Numero 2 in the Aosta Valley (TOR330 – Tor des Géants® | Tor des Geants® – Tor des Glaciers – TOR130 – TOR30).

Once they have left Courmayeur, the participants (712 this year) have 150 hours of maximum time to return, after passing through more than forty checkpoints and refreshment points and the so-called 6 life bases: Valgrisanche, Cogne, Donnas, Gressoney , Valtouranche, Ollomont.

The word life base is certainly appropriate in a competition of this type. In fact, the possibility of sleeping, resting, eating, washing and possibly being medicated are a key element to complete this journey which is not for everyone.

One of the characteristics of this race is the high number of retreats as I wrote some time ago about the 2018 edition: Withdrawals numbers at Tor Des Geants 2018 | EmigranTrailer.

As I write this, the 2021 edition is still in progress and there is a high number of withdrawals (more or less in line with the past), despite a decidedly favorable weather.

The race is not finished yet but some considerations, purely numerical and statistical, can already be made.

Watch out for the first 2 hours!

I have always thought that the first km towards La Thuile (18.7 km, 1751 D+) are among the most important of this race, especially for those who have the ambition to make a good result, perhaps in the top ten or in any case under 100 hours.

During the race, I took a look at who had passed the Baite di Youlaz (12.5 km, 1534 D +) within 2 hours, which for me means “starting very fast”.

On Sunday morning 34 runners (31 men and 3 women) passed there.

As I write this, of these runners:

  • 17 withdrew (15 men and 2 women)
  • 7 are still in the race
  • 10 finished the race (9 men and 1 woman)

In short, 50% of these runners withdrew and the percentage could increase if some of the 7 still in the race will withdraw.

If I extended the analysis by adding the runners passed to the Youlaz huts in just over two hours (two hours and three minutes), the statistics would be even more merciless.

On Sunday morning 48 runners (42 men and 6 women) passed there.

As I write this, of these runners:

  • 26 withdrew (15 men and 2 women)
  • 12 are still in the race
  • 10 finished the race (9 men and 1 woman)

In short, more than 54% of these runners withdrew and the percentage could increase if some of the 12 still in the race will withdraw.

I have summarized this information in the next three tables.

Table-1: Runners passed at Baite Youlaz in 1h55′ till the finish line (split with passages at life-basis).
(Green=passed; Grey=withdraw; white=still in race)
TOR-DES-GEANTS-2021_Tab1_Emigrantrailer.jpg (1476×815)
Table-2: Runners passed at Baite Youlaz between 1h56′ and 1h58′ till the finish line (split with passages at life-basis).
(Green=passed; Grey=withdraw; white=still in race)
TOR-DES-GEANTS-2021_Tab2_Emigrantrailer.jpg (1481×815)
Table-3: Runners passed at Baite Youlaz between 1h59’and 2h03′ till the finish line (split with passages at life-basis).
(Green=passed; Grey=withdraw; white=still in race)

TOR-DES-GEANTS-2021_Tab3_Emigrantrailer.jpg (1495×826)

It is clear that the reasons for the withdraw can be of various kinds, but a fairly clear picture emerges: starting too fast does not seem to pay off in the end, with the exception of the first three phenomena who finished the race with the same position in which they passed after only first 12 km.

I’m talking about Franco Collé (IT), Jonas Russi (CH) and Petter Restorp (FR/SE).

And of course, for women, with the exception of the Spaniard Trigueros Garrote. And also of an extraordinary Melissa “Iron” Paganelli, who passed in 2h04′ at the Bait Youlaz.

Experience and wisdom matter

If I hadn’t convinced you with the first table, then I offer you another observation.

I carefully observed the evolution of three athletes in competition:

  • Oliviero Bosatelli (IT)
  • Marco Bethaz (IT)
  • Kyle Curtin (US)

Oliviero won the Tor twice (2016,2019), once second (2017) and is one of the strongest in Italy over these distances. However, he had announced that he would run a controlled race due to physical problems. And when he arrived at La Thuile it was clear that he was keeping faith with what he had declared, passing in 2h37′, 25 minutes later than the first.

Let’s be clear: it is still a good time, but Oliviero in optimal conditions is with the very first at the Tor.

Well Oliviero, as the kilometers went by, maintaining a very regular pace gradually climbed the rankings (at the end 7th overall in less than 85h !!!).

Is it a coincidence? I do not believe. It is the result of great sporting intelligence and experience. Congratulations to Oliviero and it can be an inspiration for the youngest to how to face this race.

Marco is at home in the Aosta Valley. As an athlete, he may not be well known outside the Aosta Valley, but here (I’ll put myself in there too) they know how strong he is on the trails of this race. And he knows how to handle it properly.

When he passed in 3h07 ‘(slow time for many) in La Thuile (18,7 km) I knew he was going to have a great race. He was using his head.

And how did the race finish? Eighth overall in 85h01′ !!!. I guess that minute is an incentive to do even better in the next few years!

I didn’t know Kyle well.

But I followed him because, being an American, I expected a rocket start. Instead, from the first kilometers I saw that he was doing an extremely intelligent race:

  • 2h17′ at Baite Youlaz
  • 2h57′ at La Thuile
  • 22′ minute break at first life-basis.

In short: bravo!

And then he had a very regular race, finishing just outside the TOP10 (11th in 86h48′).

I hope that the example of these three athletes will be useful for those who want to have a great race at the Tor des Geants in the future.

And three is also the number of the next chapter.

The number three

Three consecutive victories (2018, 2019, 2021) for the Spaniard Trigueros Garrote: no one between women and men had ever succeeded.

Three victories at the Tor for Franco Colle: 2014, 2018, 2021. No man had ever succeeded.

Three nights spent on the mountains by Franco: Sunday, Monday and Tuesday.

Only three athletes finished the race within 80 hours this year: Colle, Russi, Restorp.

Three as the absolute position in the history of the Tor of the time set by Jonas Russi: first (obviously) Franco Collé with 66h43 ‘this year, second Javi Dominguez with 67h52’ in 2017 and third Jonas Russi with 69h03 ‘.

Three like the runners from Bergamo area n the Top 10: Picinali (4th), Bosatelli (7th) and Bolis (9th).

First times

First time for a man to finish the Tor within 67 hours (66h43′, obviously a new record!)

First time of the Swiss on the second place of the podium in the ranking. In this regard, I like to remember that the podiums achieved so far by the Swiss were Denise Zimmermann (third in 2014 and winner in 2015) and by Jules-Henri Gabioud (winner in 2011). But I also want to remember the unfortunate situation of Marco Gazzola (CH) who in 2011 won the Tor, but was then disqualified for a trivial mistake in the last few kilometers.

First time for an Italian man with four podiums at the Tor (Franco Collé, 3 wins and 1 third place). In the women’s rankings, Lisa Borzani had already succeeded between 2014 and 2017 (2 wins and 2 second places). Overall, the first to achieve four podiums at the Tor was Christoph Le Saux (FR) between 2011 and 2015 (1 second place and three third places).

First time with three consecutive victories at the Tor, obviously thanks to the Spaniard Trigueros Garrote (2018, 2019, 2021). With this year’s victory she also reached Lisa Borzani’s record with four consecutive TOR podiums. In fact, she was second in 2017. So in 2022 she can aim for the absolute record of 5 consecutive podiums.

First time that a “valdostano” (Franco Collé) wins the Tor three times. So far there had been two victories for Francesca Canepa (2012,2013) and Lisa Borzani (originally from Veneto, but living in Aosta Valley for few years).

First time among the men of a podium with Italy, Switzerland and France, or the three neighboring nations of the Aosta Valley where the Tor takes place. Among women it already happened in 2014 (Lecompte-FR, Borzani-IT, Zimmermann-CH). In reality, for this year, the third man to arrive is Swedish but lives in Chamonix. And France is reported as a represented nation. So it is a “questionable” first time. 🙂

Conclusions

I could continue with other statistical observations, but the race is still ongoing and there will be time to do them in a few days, if they are interesting.

In the meantime, congratulations to those who have finished the race and to those who have contributed with images and videos so that those who love those paths and could not be there could follow friends and athletes on the paths.

And a big good luck to those who are still in the race and waiting to arrive in Courmayeur and to those who this year had to postpone the dream of crossing that finish line.

Enjoy Trail-Running!

Andrea De Filippo

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