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:


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 :

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!

Ultra-distance running races fill so quickly these days. It wasn’t so long ago that you could show up for an event on race morning, after a last-minute analysis of both your fitness and the forecast, and still be permitted to toe the start line. These days, a highly anticipated registration day arrives and within hours, sometimes within minutes, the race is filled to capacity. Some races over-book their entrant list, banking on a 10% withdrawal rate before the event begins. Other race directors create a waitlist of eager participants who wait (and train?) in hopes of a registered runner having second thoughts before race day arrives. In either scenario, race organizations can correctly anticipate the amount of money they have to spend on permits, food, prizing, finisher garments, aid station supplies, insurance and other costs, as well as planning their volunteer crew according to real numbers.

There are many negatives to being a waitlisted runner. I find it truly difficult to be motivated to train for an event that I might be in. When it is raining, snowing, too hot or simply too beautiful out, I am able to convince myself that I don’t really have to train since I don’t have a concrete goal to work towards. It also feels unkind to lie in wait, hoping that a registered runner gets injured or sick or overwhelmed by family or work commitments. It can be really stressful when you finally get official entry into the race with only a few weeks or even days to wrap your brain around race preparation and travel plans, not to mention those last-minute cramming sessions of speed or hill work.

But the dreaded waitlist is where I find myself today. To celebrate our upcoming 20th wedding anniversary, we decided to do something wild –  the Tor Des Geants 336km race in Italy.

Bruce during the TDG 2012. Can you believe the beauty?!

Bruce during the TDG 2012.
Can you believe the beauty?!

No doubt where the trail is! Be prepared for all kinds of weather and unforgiving terrain!

No doubt where the trail is! Be prepared for all kinds of weather and unforgiving terrain!

Six weeks ago, B and I set the alarm clock for 2:45am in order to register. When the registration officially opened at 3:00am we were sitting side-by-side with two computers, trying to acquire two places in this September event, hitting the refresh button over and over. Six minutes later, B cried out “Yes!” as he had successfully attained the pre-registration form. Next he completed the secure banking page and, once that information was loaded, he was IN! Beside him, I continued to reload the page and had success with getting to the pre-registration form but, after filling it out, the next page simply would not load. I could not get to the secure banking page. For 10 minutes, the loading wheel spun and spun, indicating heavy traffic on the banking site I guess. I opened new browser pages and tried to restart my registration but had no luck. Beside me, B completed his application and began trying to get mine. Switching to Firefox, rather than Chrome, seemed to do the trick. Soon enough, all of my information and bank transaction was complete.

We sat back and looked at the list of pre-registrants. The race would accept 660 racers. B was #36. I was #1318. His transaction went through at 3:06am; mine at 3:24am. It took only 9 minutes for this epic race to reach 660 racers and it looked like I was SOL.

But hope springs eternal for the waitlisted runner. This race has all sorts of crazy and unique rules on accepting entrants – which you can read about on the website – but the short version is that they accepted the first 8 Canadian pre-registrants, and I am the ninth Canadian. If a Canadian entrant withdraws or fails to get payment, medical info or waivers in on time, their entry will roll down to the next Canadian – ME!

So here I sit, not training, but instead visiting the race website a little too often, watching to see if the accepted runners make the payment deadline today.

Stay Tuned!

Before anything else, the moss comes alive.



From an over-saturated mush at the side of the trail, it suddenly begins to illuminate.

Creeping along the trail edge and over anything stationary

Creeping along the trail edge and over anything stationary

The olive shades begin to turn the colour of lime peel.

Lime Peel

Lime Peel

Just when you begin to doubt that the snow will ever recede and that spring will come, the moss shows you the truth.

Huckleberry branches blanketed in moss

Huckleberry branches blanketed in moss

With the patches of snow quickly disappearing, it warms my heart to see the subtle message that moss sends out to those who are paying attention.

A blanket of moss

A blanket of moss

A corduroy sweater for a fir

A corduroy sweater for a fir

I can't get enough of it!

I can’t get enough of it!

All of these pics were taken on my run in Seal Bay this afternoon – and somehow I managed to PR my loop time too! Either moss is inspiring to me or I’m afraid that it will start growing on me if I don’t get moving.

Until very recently, it had been an unseasonably dry winter. Through December and January, the local ski mountain was bare and it truly looked like 2013/14 would pass without any local snow-sports.  But then the storms blew in and we were treated to lots of snow close to town and meters of the white stuff up in the alpine.

With our favourite local running trails covered with snow, slush and ice, B and I decided to head up Mt. Washington for a snowshoe workout.

The ski mountain is close enough to get to for an after-work snowshoe before the sun sets.

The ski mountain is close enough to get to for an after-work snowshoe before the sun sets.

About half-way up the Parkway, there is a pull-out where snowmobiles park and head into the back-country. Usually we like to run on the packed trails that they leave behind. But today, with the novelty of new snow, we decided to follow another snowshoer’s tracks straight up the hill.

Following in someone else's tracks

Following in someone else’s tracks

There he goes!

There he goes!

Good luck catching up with him now!

Good luck catching up with him now!

After a while, B decided to deviate from this trail and head up into the untracked powder. With each step he would sink almost to his knees. I followed, trying to widen the track he was making.

Deep, deep snow. Fluffy and delicious!

Deep, deep snow. Fluffy and delicious!

It was hard going and we both had to stop and catch our breath fairly often. It is such a different work out than running with all that high-knee lifting.

Slogging away

Slogging away

We climbed up to the height of land and then took the shortest, sweetest descent we could find – straight down a steep embankment and back onto the snowmobile track. We finished off the day with a few kilometers of running on packed trail. We returned to the car just as the light was fading. A beautiful end to the day.

The Happy Wanderer

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