Toph & Kim Gaylord: The Tour du Mont Blanc

Topher Gaylord on the Italian side of Mont Blanc

Topher Gaylord on the Italian side of Mont Blanc

I have a rule. It is the “Yes” rule. If someone calls and asks me to go do a fun trip. The answer, within reason, must be, “Yes”.

So when Topher Gaylord called and asked if we wanted to run the Tour du Mont Blanc (100 miles and approximately 8500 meters of gain) my answer was, “No”. But after thinking about it some, we opted to obey the rule and decided on a sketchy, “Okay”.

This was 2004. We did not know Toph or his wife Kim. Now, years later, we look back having done the trip and we are friends with some really good memories of a perfect three day tour.

Kim & Toph Gaylord with Janine Patitucci

Kim & Toph Gaylord with Janine Patitucci

Janine and I arrived to Switzerland for our usual multi-month summer shoot schedule. Within hours of getting in, Toph was on the phone. At that time, he was the President of The North Face International and we had a photo shoot scheduled later that summer in Italy where he and Kim lived. Toph thought we would all come to know one another by doing this run. He had heard we were fit and boldly decided to take the chance of spending a few days running with strangers. Now that I look back on this decision, it really was a brave thing to do as we could have been punters extraordinaire.

Toph is, quite possibly, the most psyched and motivated human on the planet. A top ultra runner, Toph has actually placed second in the Ultra Tour du Mont Blanc, the race on the same course we would run. To say Toph travels a lot is an understatement, airport staff know him. To stay fit he has been known to actually run in airports, putting on his running clothes, and actually lapping the airport, inside and out. He is one of those people the rest of us stare at.

He has two mottoes, “Charge”, and “Get after it”. This sums up Toph. Simple as the saying are, when put to practice they are life changing in a wonderful kind of way. Kim is the same. When Toph charges, she charges alongside.

Toph in full "Charge" mode at the start of the Ultra Tour du Mont Blanc. Note Italian on cellphone

Toph in full "Charge" mode at the start of the Ultra Tour du Mont Blanc. Note Italian on cellphone

The two of them recently moved back to the US and we can no longer play together in the Dolomites. But the other day as I was skinning up a peak at night and doing live Twitter feeds, I get a message from Kim, “Make some turns for us”. A huge smile came across my face, not just because someone was actually following the feed, but because I knew that the two of them had done identical things as I was doing and they understand exactly how fun it is.

Toph and Kim’s Blog can be found at : http://www.tophergaylord.blogspot.com

Enjoying the lack of border control, the Italian-French "rock line"

Enjoying the lack of border control, the Italian-French "rock line"

Toph explaining the "Charge" concept to locals

Toph explaining the "Charge" concept to locals

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