Garmin certifies the TOR330 track

August 23, 2023

EDITORIAL 

BOARD

An Interview with the Official Tracker Carlos Garcia Prieto

Carlos Garcia Prieto, one of the most renowned figures worldwide in route identification and management of ultramarathons, from the European Alps to the deserts of Mongolia and Namibia, coordinated the team of athletes from ASD Courma Trailers this summer.

They were responsible for recording the routes of TOR330 – Tor des Géants, TOR130 – Tot dret, and TOR30 – Passage au Malatrà using Garmin equipment.

Having previously directed over 80 races spanning distances from 100 km to 250 km, across some of the most rugged and extreme terrains on Earth, “Carlos UltraRun” faced one of the most challenging trials of his career.

© 2023 TORX | Photo: Roberto Roux | Zzam! Agency

How did you organize the work? How many people collaborated and in what manner?

A race like the Tor is very demanding, and when Garmin proposed the project to me, despite being in good condition, I pondered how to organize tracking on such a large scale, which would require above-average effort.


We engaged a team of 10 well-prepared and trained trackers who could ensure excellent familiarity with GPS devices


How much time was required to trace the entire route?

In the end, even when dividing the route into 5 sections and with the valuable assistance of VDATrailers who took on this challenge, it took about three weeks to complete the recording of all the routes. Keep in mind that the tracking operations couldn’t commence before July since there is still snow on some sections in June.

© 2023 TORX | CARLOS GARCIA PRIETO

What equipment did you use?

Garmin provided all the necessary equipment for this epic task. The trackers’ gear included the GPSMAP67 as the master GPS and the ETREX SE as a backup.

GPS technology has evolved significantly: for instance, we still use the term GPS, although the mentioned products are capable of receiving satellite constellations beyond the Global Positioning System. The original idea of the project was always to record a high-frequency sampling track. Although it’s technically possible to record a shorter distance, according to the International Trail Running Association (ITRA), a high-density track should contain samples every 10 meters to ensure sufficient accuracy with a manageable track. After recording each section, each team sent me the track, and I uploaded all the information to BaseCamp, Garmin’s cartographic management software, which allowed me to put the sections together and clean up the final track.


What challenges did you encounter while tracking the three routes?

The TOR330 mainly follows the High Route No. 1 and High Route No. 2, so the trackers had to be very careful to follow the correct path, as the final track had to be precise. On the other hand, as it’s a high mountain route, we had to be very mindful of weather and terrain conditions. The great advantage was that they had the best Garmin technology even in case of emergencies.

© 2023 TORX | Photo: Roberto Roux | Zzam! Agency

What emotions did you experience while traversing the trails of the Valdostan high routes, which have now become iconic locations in the world of trail running?

Even though I had some experience on the trails of the Aosta Valley, such as Val Veny or the famous Val Ferret, I had never tackled the High Routes, and the beauty of the landscapes struck me. Very exhilarating.


I wanted to conquer each pass just to see the scenery that the Aosta Valley would surprise me with


How can athletes make use of the new tracks?

The evolution of GPS technology, as I mentioned earlier, has extended to handheld devices, and it’s becoming increasingly easy to load a track onto a Fenix, Enduro, or portable device and follow it during a race. We recommend using the individual segments we divided among life bases to make device memory more streamlined. Just load the tracks from Garmin Connect or Connect Mobile and then synchronize with the device, and you’re good to go.

What advice do you feel you can give, after this experience, to those training to finish the Tor des Géants, Tot Dret, and Passage au Malatrà?

The TOR330 is a brutal endurance challenge in terms of distance, but it goes off the charts in terms of elevation gain. In my opinion, anyone aiming to tackle an epic race like this should undergo rigorous training under the supervision of a professional that includes significant strength and mental training. As for the rest, I believe it’s important to find enjoyment even amidst the suffering, which there will be plenty of during the many hours of the race. Crossing the finish line will be something unforgettable. TOR130 or even TOR30 offer variations of the same landscape and can be excellent options for those who can’t or don’t want to take on the beast.



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