"It is with great reluctance and regret that we must announce the TORX races scheduled to take place between 11 and 20 September 2020 - TOR330 - Tor des Géants®, TOR450 - Tor des Glaciers, TOR130 Tot Dret and TOR30 - Passage au Malatrà - have had to be cancelled." President of VDA Trailers Alessandra Nicoletti announces the long-awaited decision on the toughest endurance trail in the world.
The reason is closely linked to the spread of Covid-19. Since 30 January, the day the World Health Organisation declared the Covid 19 epidemic a 'public health emergency of international concern', the Italian government has rapidly adopted increasingly stringent measures, legal and regulatory, aimed at greatly restricting the movement of people within the country and preventing sporting and economic activities from taking place.
VDA Trailers has delayed making this difficult decision until now in the vain hope that the future would become clearer and the situation would improve quicker, but there's still a great deal of uncertainty about the months ahead and a second wave of the pandemic has not been ruled out.
"As of today, stringent regulations are still in force relating to the conduct of sporting events (social distancing and ban on gatherings) - underlines Nicoletti - and it is impossible for us to guarantee health security to every single runnerr, tand their associates, plus volunteers, tourists and the broader Valle d'Aosta community: tens of thousands of people who experience the TOR X races on the front line and in close contact, and are a vital part of the activities"
TOR X is also an international event. "There are 77 nations represented - continues Nicoletti - and each country is facing the pandemic, with differences in prevention and intervention rules, according to the states: even in this case it is impossible to know to whom, and in what way, access to our country will be guaranteed in the month of September, and eventually the return home after the race ".
So it is a painful decision that we only arrived at after long consideration and various attempts to find a loophole that would allow the race to go ahead. "We took immediate action on two fronts," explains the president of VDA Trailers. "On the one hand we kept a constant check on how the situation was developing, took note of the changing instructions from the government and assessed the material impact these could have on the outstanding race calendar, and on the other we sought alternative solutions. We reflected, reviewed, compared and discussed, not just inside the organisation but also with regional bodies, sponsors and logistics experts. We held a continuous stream of meetings hoping to find a solution that would enable the TORX to go ahead in September."
A number of suggestions were put forward, but unfortunately none of them was practical. "We considered introducing staggered starts, extending and separating the facilities at life bases and putting in additional support systems along the route, but this itself would have meant twice as many volunteers, drivers, fitters, rescue workers, IT technicians, guides, public safety workers, doctors, nurses and physiotherapists as usual out in the field". And there was no guarantee that these people would even be available considering that the prime commitment of these essential players is to deal with the national health crisis. "Even assuming everyone was available, nobody and nothing could have guaranteed the absolute safety of every athlete and member of the public at the time of the event, and in this case after it. And safety has always been our fundamental concern in everything we do, more important than sport, amusement or cameraderie."
The methods of reimbursement have been communicated to each runner. Each competitor of the TOR330 - Tor des Géants® and the TOR450 - Tor des Glaciers will receive the 2020 edition bag, which remains one of the most important symbols of the TOR.
The outcome of the draw is maintained for an edition chosen between 2021/2022/2023, and is transferable to another runner. Further concessions on future registrations are under consideration.
Although we have had to downsize the complex organisational structure of VdA, including volunteer enthusiasts, staff and salaried employees, we’re not shutting the engine down completely, just keeping it ticking over and watching carefully for developments in the international situation over the summer and autumn and still working on the launch of the next TORX. "Let's keep on walking and running in the mountains near home and in the Valle d'Aosta - the organisers conclude - the TOR may have slowed down, but it won't stop. Ever."