Tor Des Geants 2023 Q&A with Emma Stuart & Galen Reynolds

Tor Des Geants 2023 Q&A with Emma Stuart & Galen Reynolds

We caught up with Supernatural Fuel Ambassadors, Emma Stuart and Galen Reynolds following their amazing performances on this year’s formidable Tor Des Geants 200 mile mountain race.  Emma was top female on her first attempt and Galen was third overall having podiumed a few times in previous years.

Firstly, a massive congratulations to both of you are your amazing performances at this year’s Tor330.  We loved following your progress!

Galen – What’s so special about this race, you keep coming back?

‘The Tor is the Tor’ is a common catchphrase with the people who keep returning to the race year after year. It’s used as it’s nearly impossible to describe what the race is and means to everyone involved. Every time I go back, it’s an entirely different adventure. The only thing each edition has in common is it will be brutally hard, and I’ll experience those far edges of emotions. The highest highs and the deepest dark places. Couple this with the unbelievable event atmosphere lasting for the whole week.’

Emma – Winning the Tor330 on your first attempt is very special. How would you sum it up?

What an incredible experience! It was my first time at a 200-miler so I had a very steep learning curve, but I had a fantastic team behind me to get me through to the finish. The memories of the event will last a lifetime, that’s for sure!

Is it the world’s toughest mountain race? If no, what’s harder?

Emma – I’m still a relative newcomer to the world of mountain ultras but it’s certainly one of the most demanding! I think the concept of the “world’s toughest mountain race” is very personal and completely depends on your experience during that specific race. For example, Tor330 was almost perfect and I adapted well to the different challenges that popped up during the race. So although the elevation and distance make it a tough event, I found it less difficult than, for example, the Lakeland 100 in 2022, where I suffered very badly with nausea and vomiting for over 80 miles, meaning I had to dig deeper than ever before (and since) to get that distance done.

Galen – ‘There are longer races, races more technical, and others with more elevation change than the Tor, but none have the added competitiveness of the Tor. For me, this is the world’s toughest mountain race. With the added element of the field’s competitiveness, I haven’t found anything that comes close to the mix the Tor has – a brutal course, a multiday non-stop race with the top endurance mountain runners from around the world. The Tor is the pinnacle challenge in ultra-running endurance racing.’

Did your training differ much for this race compared to the more common 100 mile mountain race?

Galen – ‘My favourite part of the season is in the direct build for these 200-mile races: long mountain days with huge elevation gain. Things slow down, but the volume is at its peak around 20 hours a week. The training difference from a typical 100-mile race is the increase in overall volume and slightly less speed work.’

Emma – The English mountains are tiny in comparison to the ones on the continent so I plotted routes that chased elevation and spent long days out in the Lake District fells, trying to mimic as closely as possible the conditions I would expect during Tor330. Granted, our terrain is much wetter and sometimes more technical so I felt that if I could manage what the Lake District threw at me, then I could tackle anything that was thrown at me in the Aosta valley. This summer was so wet and miserable in the Lakes that some of the days out strengthened me mentally as well as physically because many of them were “character-building”, to say the least!

Did you have a nutritional strategy that you were able to stick to over such a long race?

Emma – ‘I was so pleased with my nutrition strategy and it’s probably the best I’ve fuelled in any long race. I often struggle with sickness and nausea because I have a habit of going out too hard so I knew I had to reign it in early on. Aside from one bout of nausea during the first night, my stomach was solid for the race. I ate a lot of real food at the aid stations and my crew kept offering lots of different grub which meant I didn’t get sick of eating the same thing. When I was on the course, I fuelled with a mix of energy drinks, gels and Supernatural pouches. I like the pouches as they aren’t too sweet or sickly and I find they help a lot with staving off the hunger that sometimes occurs when you eat a lot of gels. Plus, the gels really started to hurt my (very sensitive) teeth after two days so Supernatural was a great replacement!’

Galen – ‘Every 200 miler I’ve done, I’ve confidently gone in with a polished nutritional plan fine-tuned through hours and days of experiments and research for the exact mix of nutrients and hourly targets, only to be thrown out the window within 30 hours. In the Art of War by Sun Tzu he roughly says, ‘No plan survives contact with the enemy.’ What I think he was trying to say was ‘No nutrition plan survives the Tor’.’

Any memorable highs or lows that spring to mind?

Galen – ‘There are so many highs and lows during the event; even the apres Tor is great. The high during the race was running large sections of the course with other athletes, especially Damian Hall, who has an amazing, upbeat sense of humour even when losing his mind. Running with a group makes the time go by so much quicker, keeps the hallucinations at bay, and helps pull me through low points.My lowest moment came relatively early during the first night. After the heat of the day, I was excited; the temperature started to come down, and I thought my stomach was coming back online, so I began to eat but felt instantly queasy. From there, I had to shove a hand over my mouth as I ran to the closest bin to avoid throwing up all over my crew. I have never been sicker. At one point, I was trying to figure out where it was all coming from. While getting sick isn’t unusual in a race like this, I took 3 hours off of eating, and when I tried to eat something light again, I had the feeling all over and thought this may be the end of my race.Outside of the race, the best is hanging around Courmayeur and seeing so many friends and new people as part of the Tor. The recovery is always low, but this year particularly, apart from the brain fog that goes on for about 2 weeks, my feet were shredded this year, and I found it challenging to walk for the first week after the race.’

Emma – ‘The highs were definitely the crowds cheering us on and the support I received from my crew. I definitely couldn’t have done it without them, especially Marco, who worked as my chef, foot sorter-outer and alarm clock. It was an incredible experience crossing the finish line and realising I had done it! It’ll live with me forever.

To be honest, I didn’t have many lows but the sleep deprivation was the main challenge. I messed up my strategy and essentially ran the race (82.5 hours) on about 90 minutes of sleep. It didn’t feel like it slowed me down much but it probably did, and certainly the disorientation, sense of confusion and extreme deja vu made it the most difficult part of the whole event.’

What’s you’re A race for 2024, any plans yet?

Emma – ‘I have a few big races lined up for 2024, but the main focus will be UTMB. It’ll be fantastic to see Courmayeur in a different light, 50 miles into a race, rather than at the start/finish of Tor330!’

Galen – ‘I still need to figure out the A race of the year for 2024. I have a couple of fun races lined up I’m pencilling in: Trail Verbier X-Alpine and Garda Trentino Trail Extra. I’m still working out if I’ll return to Tor, try for a PB at UTMB or experience TDS for the first time.’

A massive thank you to Galen and Emma for taking the time to talk to us, providing great insights to this incredibly challenging race.  If you would like to keep up with Emma’s and Galen’s training and racing exploits, you can follow their Instagram accounts below:

Galen –

Emma –

Emma Stuart photos by: Jose Miguel Munoz –

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