Hey Jonathan, could you briefly present yourself? Your background, your relationship with trail running and how long you’ve been involved in the sport.
I started trail running 5 years ago in Canada ; A friend took be along to run in the mountains, I thought ‘this is really freaked out…I think I really like this” and since then it has been my passion. Before that I tried several sports, football for 6 years, handball, cycling,
I work at Salomon in the R&D of trail running shoes, so I’m right in it on a daily basis. For me racing, the competition, is just a way of implementing what we work on training. It gives you goals and shows you that you are capable of many things.
How did you learn about the UTAT, what motivated you to take part ?
I first heard about the race 2 years ago, and since it has been on my mind. Last year I was not able to go, but two of friends came and their feedback was really positive. Their testimonial on the race is exactly what I thought when I got back.
To you, in which way is the UTAT is different from other races on the international circuit?
It comes down to 3 words : technicality, altitude and autonomy. The paths are rather technical with a lot of pitfalls, lots of pebbles, I specifically remember the downhill leading to Imlil – as I remember around 2000 D- over 12 kms (my short still has souvenirs from the downhill). With the Hardrock and Leadville 100 in the US, I believe it’s one of the ultras that is in such high altitude, this of course has an impact on your speed. It is truly in semi-autonomy and you really need all necessary gear in your backpack to spend a night in the mountains.
This year you won the race together with Rudy Bonnet. What does this victory mean to you? Can you please tell us you sharing the finish line?
This victory was the reward for several months of training and patience. More than anything it’s just a moment of simple joy, I have not been able to race a lot this year it was my 3rd race, other than the result the mere fact of running for 105 kms is just so much joy. I think we tend to trivialize this kind of distances, but for each racer regardless of level it is his/her victory. As it was Rudy and myself meet at km 70 and I think we were both happy to find someone to chat with. You are often on your own on these races so to share part of the trail, to talk, to have fun makes passes time and creates special memories. I think it was a good moment for both Rudy and myself, and the images are etched in my memory. The atmosphere at the arrival was surreal, all the racers were there and thanks to Ludo (Collet) the ambiance was at its peak.
Do you have a story, an image in mind that represents what you experienced at the UTAT ?
An image: the sunrise over the Atlas range
A story: At the 2nd Aid Station, km 68, a Moroccan volunteer asked what kind of white powder did I put in my water bottle? I explained that my energy drink was a mix of 50% cocaine & 50% heroin, and that I was really lucky having been able to bring this from France without being caught. He translates into Arabic, and a moment of doubt followed, and then followed by a huge general laugh. All this in the middle of nowhere in the Atlas Mountains!
The malicious who gives us the wrong direction with a lot of insistence, and then watch us going away and turn around. They run away laughing, which also made me laugh. Other racers had the same experience, and all took it with humor.
What did you find the greatest difficulty during the race?
The weight of the backpack ;-), I’m not used to running with such a heavy pack, though I do realize all was necessary! Particularly regarding the water. Also, the moment when you wake up at 5 AM in the tent and it’s cold, you know you say to yourself “well why should I go running just now” and you look at your friends and you imagine they are all thinking exactly the same thing, and 5 minutes later all are in shorts under a starry sky.
And finally, how would you describe the UTAT in one word ?
Not an easy one, but I’ll cheat a little : more than a trail race I’d say that the UTAT is an Adventure, that it is True race.