Tor des Geants 2011 had a dramatic finish.
Swiss Marco Gazzola was the first runner to cross the finish line in Courmayeur with a new course record 75 h 58 min. However it was soon discovered that he had taken the wrong path during the last 12 km. The final leg had taken him only 52 minutes. He had also missed the last control point in Bertone. The organizers had to disqualify him.
Eventually young (24) Jules-Henri Gabioud of La Fouly (the town that hosts a great aid station both for UTMB and TVSB) finished in 79 hours and 58 minutes. It was still fast enough to beat last year's winning time of Ulrich Gross, who DNF'd due to foot pain. It's interesting to note that Gross had changed his shoes from Hoka to Tecnica.
Marco Gazzola was the first to congratulate the winner, and had this to say about his personal misfortune: “feeling both euphoric and exhausted for the great effort made up until that moment, I committed the mistake of taking the wrong trail. I am the first to regret it. However, I agree totally with the decision made by the committee.”
Christophe Le Saux came second with 84:09. This 38-year-old French nurse led the race for a long time in the middle stages. Then he fell asleep in a forest due to total exhaustion and kept on dreaming there until woken up by some aid station volunteers who had come to look for him. The Guyane Jaguar - as he has been nicknamed for his love for Amazon rainforest - sure loves his Hokas too, so he decides to hold them up in the air when arriving in Courmayeur.
Stephane Couleaud of Chamonix was expected to take the third place. Unfortunately the night was really cold, and he suffered from severe hypothermia. Spanish fire fighter Pablo Criado Toca catched and was able to give Couleaud first aid. They stayed together for a while, but then also Pablo started to feel the cold weather.
When they heard that a rescue squad was on its way, Pablo decided it was best to continue racing. He wasn't going fast, but took the third spot with 89:43.
Last year's winner Anne-Marie Gross was able to win again women's race with 91:28. Like his brother Ulrich she had changed from Hoka to team Tecnica in 2011. She suffered from stomach pains for a few hours, but she just kept going and beat all the other women by a wide margin in the end. Actually she beat everybody except the above mentioned three gentlemen, as she finished fourth overall!
In case you didn't understand much of the above videos, here's a proper interview in plain English for you: Canadian Running talks to Simon Donato, who dropped out after halfway.