Sur les Traces des Ducs de Savoie (TDS) - Race Tips from Milos Pintrava from AWOO
Posted on April 25 2017
In this series of interviews, we ask runners to give us a few tips on some upcoming big international trail races.
Here we ask Milos Pintrava, founder of AWOO and their great range of custom sportswear (http://awoowear.com/), for his advice with TDS, one of the races during UTMB week in Chamonix with 119km and 7,300m D+. Milos finished 2015 in 24:50:38 and 268th place.
1. Many people say or believe that TDS is tougher than UTMB. After doing both, I disagree with this opinion, but it is surely is a very tough race. Depending on how accurate your GPS is, it is between 120 - 125 km long and around 7,500 of elevation gain and loss.
2. If you are staying in Chamonix, it may be a good idea to get an accommodation in Courmayeur the night before the race. Those few hours of extra sleep you get in the morning make a big difference - that is if you can sleep at all :-) . Just remember to bring everything you need for the race with you.
3. Take it is easy at the start. Do not get sucked into the atmosphere. There is no need to sprint out. The race follows rather wide road for the first few kilometres, and it is not too difficult to pass even on the first climb if you have the urge to do that.
4. Enjoy the journey - right from the beginning. The route goes through some stunning landscape. Unless you plan to go for top 10 or top 20 take some time here and there and look around.
5. Make sure you have all your compulsory gear. There are random checks on the course and there is a proper gear check at the Bourg St Maurice CP - you can't leave that CP without passing the gear check.
6. Try to get through first 50km with fresh legs. And make the most of the Bourg St. Maurice checkpoint. The most brutal climb of the day follows after this checkpoint. It does not look too bad when you look up from the town, The thing is you can't see the whole mountain :-) . If it is hot and sunny (as it was the last 2 years on TDS day) carry as much water as you can. The first short part of the climb goes under the trees and passes some houses. Locals were out there offering water to drink or wet yourself, but soon you will be on totally exposed mountain with nowhere to hide from the sun and with nowhere to refill your bottles until a farm two-thirds up. There is free water on the farm and if you have some cash ready you can (or at least it was possible when I was there) buy Coke or even beer :-) .
7. After this brutal climb comes the most technical descent of the race with marshals and ropes ready to assist you. Try to get there before dark - makes it easier.
8. After about 100km, there is a climb that looks very innocent on the profile. It is short but very steep. Depending what race video or race report you watch or read you will hear names like "the wall", "the most evil climb of all climbs ever" etc. It probably is not that bad on its own but after tough 100km it is a monster. Be prepared.
9. There is a steep downhill to the last CP to Les Houches followed by a mostly runable 8km to the finish. If you feel strong, then by all all means gun it down the hill and sprint the last 8km to the finish. I took that downhill easy. Lots of people were passing me. But most of these people could then only walk the last 8km while my legs were OK to run. It sure felt great passing people on the last 8km.
10. TDS is tough. I may not agree with the opinion that it is tougher than UTMB as it is 50km and 1 night shorter, after all - but it is hard. There are almost no steps, all slopes are steep, terrain very different than what we have in Hong Kong. Legs, feet all suffer differently. Find some steep technical slopes and train on those. Practice with poles, they help if you know how to use them!
Finisher : 24:50:38
General ranking : 268
And, in case you're interested, here is Milos' race report from 2015.