Just before noon Wednesday, Beat arrived in Gressoney, kilometer 200, in a sour mood. Despite the near-30C-temperatures in Donnas just a day ago, the weather had taken a sharp turn for the worse. Rain throughout the night had slicked the rocks on the trail, making for sketchy and slow descending. He grabbed a big plate of rigatoni with tomato sauce and tuna, the standard (and only) dish served for the duration of the Tor des Geants. I'd taken a cue from the race food and mostly eaten this kind of fare myself. Rigatoni with tuna was an easy thing to store and cook up fast, and bread and jam was something I could keep in my car. Rural Italian grocery stores only seem to be open about six hours a day, and restaurants were never fast enough and also not open at convenient-for-me times (early and late.) Still, at this point I'd mostly run out of groceries and was down to a few candy bars and crackers that were left of my once-giant bag of UTMB trail food. I eyed Beat's lunch greedily.
During my wait I also ran into Gabi, a friend of Beat's who lives in Zurich. Gabi is a tiny Swiss woman who ran all of race so far wearing big dangling earrings and a tiara, like an actual jewel-encrusted tiara. Her voice was nearly gone and her throat made horrible gurgling noises as she breathed, indicating a serious respiratory infection. She guessed she had bronchitis and was distraught. The Gressoney cut-off was in less than two hours, so she had to go back out that night if she went out at all. I hated to see Gabi give up on something she wanted so badly, but I felt compelled to emphasize just how cold and windy it was on Col Pinter. Personally, I would have felt nervous about going up there in the middle of the night being rested and healthy, let alone as sick as she seemed. Doctors took her temperature and made the decision for her, forcibly pulling her from the race and instructing her to seek medical attention immediately as she likely had pneumonia. Poor Gabi. It was heart-wrenching to be there as she accepted this.
Ana was well-dressed but extremely tired when she woke up at 11:30. At that point I really had to go to catch Beat, so we only exchanged a few brief sentences after I made my case for the cold on the pass. She's still plugging away out there — amazingly tough, that woman. I admire her greatly.
Gressoney to Col Pinter, 12.4 miles round trip
Total climbing: 5,214 feet
Total time: 5:03