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My wish came true! Three days ago, I found an email message from ‘Amministrazione VDA Trailers’ in my junk folder. Keen on anything Italian, I opened it to find this message:

INSCRIPTION TOR DES GEANTS 2014

Good morning.
We are pleased to inform you 
that is available a place to Tor des Géants 2014  and your name is the first on the waiting list.

If you are interested to participate you have to confirm your registration before Thursday 3 April 2014.

The procedure is as follows:

1 – click on the link : http://www.tordesgeants.it/iscrizione/

2 – access to your personal form using the code that was sent with the email confirmation of pre-registration

3 – check the accuracy of  yours datas

4 – concluding the payment with credit card

At the end of the process you will receive a confirmation email.

To complete your registration you must submit the “Liability” and the medical certificate.

Best regards

VDA Trailers s.s.d.r.l.

So this is the happy ending to my previous post about The Dreaded Waitlist. But there is more to this story.

The seed of this idea began during a four-day hike/run on the Sunshine Coast Trail with Bruce and Wendy over Thanksgiving weekend last October. One evening beside the campfire, Wendy began to formulate a list of amazing events that she wants to do in the next couple of years. Tor Des Geants came up as a suggestion. As we continued on our way, I considered her infectious sense of adventure and wondered how she could throw around ideas for grandiose events with such ease. She and Bruce spoke so confidently about races and events which I never considered feasible for regular people (like me).

Here is where the idea began - Sunshine Coast Trail 2013

Here is where the idea began – Sunshine Coast Trail 2013

It suddenly struck me that it was her attitude that I admire. She truly believes that she can do anything. That can-do attitude was something I didn’t allow myself. It was what excluded me from considering these adventures as real possibilities. I mulled over these thoughts over those few trail days and I finally recognized that I was holding me back. And, as soon as I admitted there was a problem, I was able to begin addressing it.

For many, many years, Bruce has shown that same drive for adventure and his racing resume proves it. He always has his feelers out, looking for new ways to push his limits and new places to find wild, rugged and untouched, natural beauty. From his days of Ironman triathlons, to ultra distance running , to adventure racing, and on to multi-day events in Canada, US, South Africa and Italy, he sees everything as a possibility. I have been included in these searches for more than 20 years, and he has beckoned me to join in, but I haven’t allowed myself to consider anything more than 50 miles – which I know is a long way. The one time I did join him on the multi-day TransRockies Run in Colorado, I was plagued with altitude sickness and suffered for much of the 6 days and then hung up my running shoes for more than two years. In fact, I haven’t run longer than a half marathon since 2011. But the point is that I have been surrounded with ideas like this for years but have never imagined myself as the participant. That was all about to change.

Here is my inspiration at the 3200 m Col

Here is my inspiration at the 3299 m Col du Loson during TDG 2010.

When I told Bruce in all seriousness that I wanted to run the Tor Des Geants as a way to celebrate our 20th anniversary, his reaction was immediate excitement. He has always thought that I am capable of far more than I take on and he was thrilled at the prospect of having my company on his third voyage to the TDG.

So when we woke up in the middle of the night to register and I soon found myself more than 700 people deep in the waitlist, my disappointment was great. How unfortunate to have finally realized that I can do something like this but to be held back because of a slow computer connection. Would my new-found conviction last for another 12 months?

The TDG trail up to some isolated refugio along the route.

The TDG trail leads up to some isolated refugio along the route. Magnifico!

It has been an eye-opening eight weeks – from that registration night until receiving my invitation to race – and I have thought about little else during my fairly consistent training runs. I am carefully ramping up my speed and distance, keeping in mind that I am only four months beyond my surgery date and that I have a lot to relearn.

But all of that didn’t come to mind as I jumped around the room upon receiving that email. The whoops and hollers that Bruce and I shared over the phone were just the beginning of many in this adventure!

*Goretex Transrockies Run 2011 – A 120-mile, six-day stage race from Buena Vista to Beaver Creek, CO.  Racers run in teams of two people who must be within 2 minutes of each other for the entire distance.  Distances range from 13 miles to 24 miles each day.*

Dear Teammate,

For six days, we climbed and descended mountains, forded streams, meandered along single track and shuffled on gravel road.  We ate together at aid stations, dinner buffets and coffee houses.  We weathered thunderstorms, rain deluges, freezing temperatures, blazing heat and fierce winds.  We enjoyed post-run soaks in creeks, refreshing our weary legs and washing the dust out of our running clothes.  We shared a tiny tent and had restless sleeps beside one another, waiting restlessly for each morning to come.

Team La Sportiva Gore-Tex Canada Schmoop and Schmoopie

Team La Sportiva Gore-Tex Canada
Schmoop and Schmoopie

First of all, I would like to thank you for choosing me as your teammate.  You could have picked anyone and they all would have jumped at the opportunity.  With a different partner, you could have entered this as a racer, rather than a runner.  But you chose me and I continue to feel honoured by that choice.  You gave me a deeper understanding of what makes you tick; of what drives you to accomplish all that you have.  You shared the beauty of the high alpine and the strain of a multi-day event.  You  showed me that you believe I am capable of  anything.

Thank you for your patience.  We walked when I needed to walk.  We ran when I was ready to run.  We sat down when I had no strength and we flew downhill when I got my second wind.  For 120 miles, the pace was mine – not yours.  Our placing in the results is a reflection of me – not you.  All week long, we heard stories of teams that nattered at each other about pacing and placing, teams who were disappointed in the each other’s attitude or ability, and teams who chose to separate because they didn’t have the same goal in mind.  But not you.  Your patience showed an understanding that I was often out of my comfort zone and that I was trying my best.  And your patience helped me find my own intrinsic strength to get through each new challenge we faced.

Thank you for documenting the good parts and for keeping track of our progress.  When I had low points, you used the time to take video footage of the beauty around us, the melee of the aid station or the antics of our fellow runners.  You kept track of our daily run route and our cumulative mileage.  You even stopped everything mid-run to point out that we had crossed over the 100 mile mark and congratulated me on completing my first 100 miler!

Finish Line!

Finish Line!

We ran side-by-side and step-for-step for 120 miles and we crossed the final finish line, hand-in-hand, rejoicing in the fact that we had completed this race as a team.  But full credit must go to you, dear teammate, because your strength, experience and patience is what led to my success.

I love you.

Since the beginning of this running season, Waldo 100 km has been on my list of summer races.  The 99% single track trail has drawn me in for years and I think I am finally ready to increase my longest run distance by 12 miles (20km) to make an even 100km.  Also, I’ve heard through the running rumour mill that this may be the final year for this fabulous race.  For a few weeks, I watched the 2011 race edge ever closer to filling up.  Finally, when there were only 8 spaces left in the registration, B and I jumped onto Ultra Signup and registered.  After a dismal spring training season, I began to ramp up my time on feet and miles covered. I had the *fear* in me.  But last week, the goal of Waldo 100 got washed away and a new opportunity showed itself.  And so starts the story of my Transrockies Run.

On Tuesday, B called from work and said that he had just received a cool offer. He had been accepted to represent his sponsor, La Sportiva, at this year’s Transrockies Run, a 6-day stage event in the Colorado Rockies.  The expenses for the week of the race would be covered once he arrived in Buena Vista, CO.  The only catch was that he needed a partner to complete his team of 2.  He was calling to ask if I’d be interested in running it with him.

In the moments that followed his offer, this is the path that my brain took:

-what an opportunity!

-same weekend as Waldo 100 km (boo!)

-a week of camping (yea!)

-119 miles or 190 km of running  (yikes!)

-Colorado (beauty, eh!)

B=fast;  Me=not so fast (tension?, inspiration??)

-alone at Waldo (sniff)

-together at TRR (second honeymoon!)

And so I said “yes!” and kissed my Waldo 2011 goodbye.

Here’s what I have to look forward to:

20 800 ft of elevation gain over the 6 stages

running at altitudes between 7 000 ft and 12 500 ft

run distances of 21 miles, 13 miles, 24 miles, 14 miles, 24 miles and 23 miles respectively

5 nights in a tent-city compound with 498 other runners (200 teams of 2 and 100 solos)

2 hot meals a day and aid stations along the route

and a chance at some of that $20 000 prize money (bwa-ha-ha-ha)

Wish us luck!

The Happy Wanderer

My Paths on Strava

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