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The TRM Athletes and Coaches win in France at the ultra trail organised by Salomon.

The two TRM Coaches – Cristina Tasselli and Marco Mori – conquered the highest overall podium, bringing home a prestigious victory at the Grand Trail Serre Poncon, training ground of François D’Haene, champion of Team Salomon who became famous for having won the UTMB and Hardrock even beating Kilian.

The GTSP ultra trail is an extremely challenging 164km playground with a positive altitude difference of 10,600 meters in France, on the border with Italy. In this article, we will delve into the details of the race and the feat of the TRM Team.

The Characteristics of the Grand Trail Serre Poncon Race

The Grand Trail Serre Poncon is a fascinating event that takes place in the picturesque region of Serre Poncon, located in the French Alps a few kilometers from the Italian-French border and the splendid Briançon. The race starts from Embrun, on the lake, and climbs up the surrounding mountains which offer breathtaking landscapes, imposing peaks, crystal clear lakes and wild paths. The natural beauty of the area is both a spectacular backdrop and a formidable challenge for trail running athletes.

The Grand Trail Serre Poncon is known for being one of the most difficult ultra trail in Europe, and this 164 km edition with a positive difference in altitude of 10,600 meters is the most difficult test for athletes looking for true “trail spirit” challenges. The athletes, in fact, have to face rough terrain, alpine passages, steep climbs and dizzying descents in a continuously changing scenario and surrounded by the uncontaminated beauty of the mountains that reach 2,500 meters above sea level even in very complex weather conditions… as we will see!

The race is a mix of adventure, endurance and ability to manage navigation and equipments, as the athletes have to face sudden climatic variations and very exposed terrain for an average duration of 35-40 hours. The Grand Trail Serre Poncon tests the mental and physical endurance of athletes in every way possible, making it an ideal testing ground for those seeking the extreme challenge of ultra trail running even in perspective of preparing for a TOR des Geants or other endurance trail races.

Team TRM’s winning strategy

In this edition of the Grand Trail Serre Poncon, Team TRM demonstrated its extraordinary ability to apply the right race strategy. Despite the high level of competition of the Teams – over 24 top international national teams from all over the world – and the adverse weather conditions, Marco Mori and Cristina Tasselli made the difference.

As is known, competitions in France and Spain have become increasingly complex over the years. The preparation of athletes has reached levels of excellence, even more so if we consider that many athletes are part of sports teams of the highest level such as: Salomon, North Face, Hoka, Adidas Terrex, Nike. At these levels, even with young athletes, the competition is based not only on physical preparation but, above all, on the elements of the race strategy and on the experience of managing it.

The ingredients of success

One of the keys to Team TRM’s success was the race strategy and the meticulous organization of the race plan shared with the assistance of Ornella Pellizzaro (who now boasts 10 years of experience). In ultra trail running races, collaboration between the support team and athletes is essential. The result is played out, at times, even for a few minutes. So every detail makes the difference… despite the dozens of hours of racing. Marco and Cristina have demonstrated, once again, that they are a well-coordinated, rational team in executing the race plan and capable of supporting each other and changing race tactics in the most complex moments… as happened after the 110th kilometre, when weather hell broke loose during the race!

The TRM Coaches and Athletes also carefully planned their race strategy, knowing that the first part was much easier and managing the race pace and food and water supply appropriately. efficient. But, above all, they correctly managed the change of clothing and equipment before facing the worst. This attention to detail made it possible to maintain a high level of performance for the entire duration of the competition. But, in particular, the possibility of managing the complexity of the weather conditions in the second part of the ultra trail, when due to the weather the withdrawals from the race went from an average of 40% to 75% due to hypothermia.

Mental and Physical Resistance

Facing stormy weather conditions with incessant rain, strong winds at high altitude and temperatures close to freezing for many hours require extraordinary mental and physical resistance. The athletes of Team TRM demonstrated uncommon determination, overcoming moments of extreme fatigue complicated by the intense cold, continuing to push themselves beyond their limits, despite the thought of retreat was increasingly present and attractive!

In critical situations in the high mountains and without any possibility of taking shelter, for numerous hours in refreshments or life bases, the only possibility is to hold on and move forward, gathering the maximum of recruitable energy. Difficult weather: the challenge within the challenge. The Grand Trail Serre Poncon is not just a challenge of athletic performance and nutrition management, but in this case becomes a challenge against nature itself. This year, the athletes had to face anomalous and unexpected weather conditions: a sudden storm at high altitude, pouring rain combined with strong winds and sharply falling temperatures with sleet for all sections above 2,000 metres. Added to all this were rivers of mud that made the terrain even more treacherous.

These adverse conditions made the race even more challenging, testing the endurance of the strongest and most experienced athletes. Even elite athletes who neglected the care of their clothing found themselves in obvious difficulty. After a few hours, the rescue teams and the emergency helicopter began working tirelessly in an attempt to collect the athletes who had fallen into hypothermia to the local emergency room.

The emotion of a Victory

Despite the great difficulties, the ultra coaches Marco and Cristina managed not to give up in the last 50 kilometers and crossed the finish line of the Grand Trail Serre Poncon in the early hours of the night, maintaining a smile on their lips and the spirit of a warrior until the finish line in Embrun .

The victory was not only a personal taward, but also a demonstration that professional preparation, passion and decades of dedication to ultra trail running can contribute to conquering international podiums in any context.

Do you want to discover the ingredients of Team TRM’s successful victory?

Discover the training, nutrition and race strategy programs here:

Training Plans

Nutrition Plans

Race Plans

Enjoy your trainings and your races!

*Photo Credits: Grand Trail Serre Pocon

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Cristina Tasselli

Digital Strategic Marketing Director - certified Innovation Manager - in multinational companies, she is still today the only Italian female athlete to have ran 900 km and 55,000m D+ in the mountains in a single stage race (Transpyrenea 2016, 3rd women overall). She counts numerous Podiums and international Victories on races over 100k. She holds a SNaQ CONI certification as a Trail Running Coach, Athletic Trainer and in Nutrition and Sports Supplementation. Since 2014 she is President and sports executive of innovative technology startups and companies, including Trail Running Movement and Digital Sport 360. She trains elite trail running athletes and she teaches in trail running coach certification courses. She is an author of sports articles on training, nutrition and supplementation in trail running and running, both in Italian and in English and Spanish. She manages relationships and collaborations with Federations and Race Organizers.