Ari Veltman is a likable trailer from Israel who, it’s already some years, is traveling across the paths of the Alte Vie of the Aosta Valley. Ari the next September 11th will be at the start of the seventh edition of the Tor des Géants®. This is his fascinating history, telling by himself. If you want to follow him during the Tor you can go to his Facebook page, where he’ll put updates information in real time.
“3 years ago, I was an Israeli, working for a high tech company in Tokyo. Focusing on work, and eating between - I did not engage in sports at all.
At the end of September 2013 (3 years ago), I reached 120 kg in weight. This was too much.
It started with a one-day diet, and became 3 months - by January 2014 I lost 30 kg and ran 10km for the first time in my life.
But this was just the beginning of the story. I love hiking and the mountains, and when I looked for a challenge to keep me active, I found out about trail running. My first challenge was a stage race in Iceland at the end of that year.
I completely fell in love with Trail Running, I went to mountains near Tokyo every weekend, and participated in more and more events when I could, mostly local ones in Japan. Slowly increasing the distance.
Last year, I decided to make a big “jump” - to quit my job in the office, and to take some time for a big challenge in Trail Running. It was not about a diet any more - I love spending time on the trails, and I like to take a big challenge I am not ready for, and find the way how to train for it.
It was too early to think about the Tor Des Geants - at that time, I never completed any Ultra distance at all. I mainly focused on stage-races. But maybe this is the reason - when I first heard about the Tor in the middle of last year (from friends I met in a race in Sicily), I immediately like it - in my head it was a combination between something like a stage race (because of the life stations), and an Ultra Race.
I knew this was too big for me (and it was too late to register anyway), but it was like a poison that settled in my mind, and started to spread.
Last year, I took on a challenge to run from coast to coast in Costa Rica in a 5-stage race. I did not tell anybody, but in my mind, this was a test for me to see if I can advance quickly enough to be ready for that race. If I could do this, maybe I could also prepare myself for the Tor the following year.
As part of my training for Costa Rica, I did my first 80km Ultra in Japan (Utsukushigahara), and in August last year, I also participated in the zero edition of UTMR and at l’Echappee Belle (80 km version). These gave me also a taste of the Alps - and after them I knew for sure that Tor Des Geants will be a race I will enjoy for sure!
When I finally finished the race in Costa Rica - I was ready. I announced to myself and to all my friends that this is it - this is my big challenge.
The Tor for me is going to be the end of a personal journey. A journey I started with no knowledge of running or trail running, at 120 km, and finishing it with participation in the toughest race, the peak of races - in such a beautiful region.
Even though I was still not officially selected to participate, in my mind I was already on the way to the Tor, and started to plan. I had less than a year to be ready, and the longest race I ever completed was 80 km. I had a lot of work in front of me.
The first step was to leave Tokyo, move back to Israel, and think about getting a close to the Alps in my training a possible.
I also registered to 6 different ultras during the year, to help prepare me and check my progress. I knew it was too early to train in the Alps, so the plan was to start with a focus on Spain, and later move to train in north Italy.
After some training in Israel, my first big test was Trans Gran Canaria. I continued to Penyagolosa in Valencia, Spain in April.
Since June, after my first 100-mile race in Portugal (Oh Meu Deus, I was the last runner to finish), I moved to train in Italy. I spend all of June in the Dolomites, participating at the end in Lavaredo Ultra Trail, moved to train all of July in Orobie (and then participating in the Orobie Ultra Trail race), and finally - I spent all of August training in the Alps. You could say I followed the weather for my training.
Finally, we are getting close to the real thing. It has been an amazing journey of 3 years, and now the Tor will mean so much for me. This race of 7 days for me represents the climax point of a big 3-year journey, and the biggest challenge I took in my life so far.
The Tor was like a light at the end of a long tunnel for me, guiding me forward and keeping me focused. No matter the result of the race, for me - making this journey, and reaching starting line of the Tor - I have already won.”