This year the Trace des Ducs de Savoie (TDS) was the novelty race of The North Face® Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc organization. Although it was already proposed last year the start was not given due to severe weather on the mountains and no one was able to complete the route. In 2009 the first edition of this race was on another trail.
The race starts in Courmayeur (Italy) and goes around clockwise to Chamonix following some wild untracked areas of the Aoste, Tarentaise and Beaufortain mountains. 1200 runners lined up for the start at 9 am on thursday August 25 looking forward to 110 km with a positive height gain of 7100 m. The time limit for completing the race is 31 hours. The race started under the sun and as the day went on the heat was on.
By lunchtime as the first runners reached the first pass, the mighty col du Petit St Bernard, the highest peaks had already disappeared behind dark black clouds announcing thunderstorms for later on. The classic chime of cowbells greeted all runners as they entered the check point area. After a well deserved break they could easily start rolling down the mountain on the French side, the low valley awaited them under heavy heat. Once down in Bourg St Maurice and after a short climb to the overlooking fort de la Platte, the severe thunderstorm forecast pushed the organizers to send the racers by a safer way to the Cormet de Roselend.
The 13 km of asphalt road climbing up to les Chapieux probably felt like a punishment for many runners. But it was a wise choice for safety, the original track was planned to go over the Passeur de Pralognan, a very remote pass and area with a dangerous descent. This decision added a few extra kilometers to the race.
On the road the runners were quickly welcomed by a free shower, just enough rain to cool down, luckily the sky cleared up very quickly and the sun came back. Once passed the Cormet de Roselend the first 300 runners were rewarded by soft and grassy untracked slopes bathed in the setting sun on the way to Col Joly. As night fell on the race, headlamps were turned on and a luminous snake of light showed the way. To finish the race the run along the most beautiful paths of the Tarentaise, Beaufortain and Mont-Blanc country continues by going down to Les Contamines, before once again going up to reach the col du Tricot passing by the chalet du Truc. Crossing the nose of the Bionnassay glacier by footbridge and up to Bellevue before plunging down to les Houches and finally to Chamonix. As the head of the race finishes by night many enjoyed the sunset in the final stages.
Slideshow on the TDS Race :
780 runners finished this first complete edition of the TDS Race, MARTINS Alcide was the last finisher.