TOR 30 by Jessica Wilson

TOR 30 by Jessica Wilson

The TOR 30 is part of the TOR X series of races taking place in the Aosta Valley in Italy. The Tor 30 is a 30km section of the longer courses taking place on technical trails at high altitude.

SCARPA Athlete Jessica Wilson raced the TOR 30 and we caught up with her a few weeks after the race to see how it went.

Read on for Jess’s race report from TOR 30!

After a big summer of ultras, I decided to go for something out of my wheelhouse and challenge myself with a 30km race. While it may be shorter for me, the climbing was steep and long, with some technical underfoot (the terrain I enjoy the most), and I knew it’d be an adventure, a good way to dip my toes into the TOR waters so to speak.

After being able to help support Emma’s incredible race, see such amazing performances throughout the week, I knew that I’d be coming back one day before I even stepped foot on the course.

Getting to the starting pen, it wasn’t until everyone moved forward when I was informed that it was going to be a fast start. Now, having not done shorter trail races that often, and having only witnessed a few Euro starts, I didn’t expect it to actually be that fast once I was in it. A few minutes of laughter and I settled into a quick pace and focused on the clouds above that were settling into the valley, hiding the mountain peaks from view.

Now, the majority of the climbing occurs in this section, where it’s a long, gradual uphill along some beautiful single track, before a brief break on the forestry road to start the very steep and rocky switchbacks that would lead to the rifugio and then eventually Col Malatra.

The clouds were so heavy that the other runners were disappearing in front of my eyes and then all of a sudden, the Rifugio was right in front of me. Crowds of runners stood around the checkpoint, knowing I had everything I needed on me to not have to stop, I took advantage of it and passed by to continue the climb.

Step after step, I kept my head down until I accidentally bumped into the person in front of me. I had reached the summit, but couldn’t see the spectacular views everyone had been on about because of the clouds.

A small queue to get up and over the scramble, a quick smile for the camera and then it was game on. The ground was wet from the rain earlier in the week, thick mud in sections, and a lot of rocky single track, my playground, my time to shine. 

I started to fly down, letting my legs do what they wanted, saving no energy. I was having the time of my life as I danced down, overtaking person after person, and as I came out of the clouds, I looked around me and the only thing I could think about was how much it looked and felt like I was running in the Lakes, like I was running at home.

The next climb was 1km long, 9km shorter than the last, but this one seemed to go on forever and felt way worse than it should have, but that’s what happens when you’re used to longer races and not leisurely hiking up it. I grabbed a couple orange slices from the table as I passed through the next checkpoint and began to pick up the pace. Less than 10km to go, 90% of the climbing done, I was back on familiar trails, having run this section of the TMB a few times, but rain had turned it into a slip and slide.

Rather than the thick mud, it was layered on top, so your feet felt like they would slide with every step. I was wearing the Ribelle Run Kalibra ST in preparation/hope of these conditions, and never found an ounce of trouble navigating the conditions.

Before I knew it, I arrived at the last checkpoint, I looked at my watch with less than 5km to go, all downhill, and realised I could go sub 5 hours if I just kept pushing hard, even with how technical this last section was. I was leaving everything on the trails, as I continued to surge past runners, congratulating those that were still out and on the last stretch of their 330s and 450s. 

Then the moment of silence, followed by a small scream from the lady behind me, as I clipped a rock on one of the final switchbacks, hit the ground, and slid, more like drifted, around the trail for a good distance, before I was back on my feet, gave her the thumbs up, and kept running without skipping a beat.

Most people who know me, know that falling comes as no surprise, and I didn’t actually realise how bad the fall would be until long after the race, but I knew that sub 5 was gone at that point but I kept pushing. 3km left, 2km left, turning on the reserves, I hit the road and tried to get that sprint finish up into town. That slight incline was heart breaking but the crowds powered me through that last 400m. They were unlike any race finish I had experienced.

Onto the finish platform, I looked at the clock, 5:09. 30km with 2300m of climbing. I was so proud of that time, so proud of the run I had just had. The performance where I knew I truly had nothing left to give. Turns out, I’m not half bad at the shorter distances and I’m back in town at a reasonable hour. 

I will definitely be back to try and beat my time, but to also take on the 330 in a few years time, it’s hard not to want to spend a few days in one of the most beautiful valleys in Europe.

Thank you to Scarpa for the opportunity, to Marco, Massi, and Emma for the support out there, and for everyone who had been following along.

Jess wasn’t the only SCARPA UK athlete competing at the Tor des Géants – fellow SCARPA Athlete Emma Stuart won the 330 race – we also caught up with Emma – post race which you can read here: Tor 330 Winner Emma Stuart – Interview