The last two weeks I have been constantly asked what the difference is between TDG and Petite Trotte à Léon (PTL). My answer is in short: “Everything”. The longer answer is that while TDG really is a mountain ultramarathon trail running competition, PTL is perhaps the ultimate test how to manage yourself and your team in a challenging Alpine environment under stress. Just look at the speed of this year’s winners of TDG versus PTL. Franco Collé had an average speed of 4.60 km/h when he won and finished TDG’s 330 kilometers in 71 hours 49 minutes, while Alain Steeman and Bernard Godon in the winning Belgian team Les Patrouilleurs Célestes had an average speed of 2.54 km/h when winning and finishing this year’s roughly 294 kilometers long PTL course. PTL was certainly steeper with roughly D+ 26500 meters and a staggering D+/km of 90.2, compared to TDG with D+ 24000 meters and a D+/km of 72.7. However, there were clearly quite long runnable flatter sections of PTL as well and I think the main difference is in the frequent crazy steep and technical sections at PTL which almost requires climbing. Each such passage at PTL, as for instance the descent from Col d’Enclave, certainly took very long time. That, in combination with the need to slow down due to sometimes difficult navigation during long sections without a defined path, clearly made the difference in speed. However, I was surprised to see that mine and Otto’s average speed still was 2.19 km/h, quite high compared to my average speed of 2.79 km/h at TDG last year, in particular as we also made slightly longer breaks for sleep and refreshment at PTL than I did at TDG last year. So, perhaps we were running at least a little at PTL as well after all. As mentioned before, I think Jill Homer has written a good comparison between PTL and TDG, and I look forward to her race report from TDG this year to see if she still comes to the same conclusions now after having done both races.
I have still not put on my running shoes after PTL, but this week I have gradually felt stronger and stronger and I have now already started to look forward to next year’s challenges. I think it a good sign that I have already started to dream about and long for the next mountain adventure. Despite being inspired by following TDG this week, I think next year’s calendar will probably most likely be filled with some shorter technical Skyrunning races instead. Also, I very much enjoy the films and race reports that now start to emerge from PTL. The Finish top team Team Rumue with Janne Marin and Antti Niinikoski has posted a great film available here:
For those of you reading Danish Moses Lovstad has posted a great race report of their DNF at http://moseslovstad.com/2014/09/06/ptl-2/.