Vendée: Four passionate and slightly crazy athletes set off for Reunion for a race

Alexandre Bouchet, Gael Bachelot, Julien Fertillet, Sebastien Brosseau
Alexandre Bouchet, Gael Bachelot, Julien Fertillet and Sébastien Brosseau. ©

They are four from the Saint-Jean-de-Monts triathlon and athletics club and participated in La diagonale des fous in Reunion from October 20 to 23, 2022. It is an ultra trail: run with a distance of 165 km with 10217 meters of positive and negative gradients. The race leaves at 21:00 on October 20 from Saint-Pierre in the south of the island, crosses the whole island by cirques, peaks and walls. The finish is in Saint-Denis at the La Redoute stadium. It is the most legendary ultra trail in the world and this year it celebrates its 30th anniversary.

The event is called Grand raid and consists of 4 races including La diagonale des fous with the relay in which Denis Brogniard will participate. It gathers 7 to 8,000 people, of which 3,000 for the race in which the Montois will participate. Before their departure, Le Courrier Vendéen caught up with them.

A childhood dream

“It’s a very selective race and it’s very complicated to get your number. You have to do selection races to get points. All four of us have experience with participation in circuits of more than 80 km. This gave us access to the Reunion race draw. We do four to five races a year, the last meeting was the endurance route in Milo. We have been working on it for a year and in January we received the numbers. It’s a childhood dream, I’ve been running since I was little, I’m 24 years olde ultras”, announces Alexandre Bouchet very enthusiastically.

40% dropout

It is a race where there is a 40% dropout rate. It is done without poles to preserve the environment, the trails. The first arrivals take 24 hours and the last up to 66 hours. The numbers have chips to track the runners who have access to a supply every 15 km. There are also three life stations where they can find their bags with change, one at 72 km, 120 km and at the finish. The temperature change is significant 30° during the day 0° at night. There will be five departure points for 600 people between 9pm and 9.40pm. 45 nations will meet. You can access Lives thanks to tracking numbers. Runners must carry in their bag: a headlamp, ID, survival blanket, whistle, 1.5 liters of water, food supply, spare battery for phones, bands in case of injury. A bag of between 3 and 5 kg.

“I survived, I’m crazy”

“We leave with the youngest and the oldest since Alexandre is 28 years old and I just celebrated my 50th birthday. This race is truly a dream, I have ten ultras to my credit. After this race I don’t think I’ll do another one, I’m slowing down”, said Sébastien Brosseau.

You must know that the first and the last are equally welcome. There’s nothing to win except a t-shirt that says “I survived, I’m crazy.” The Montois runners left on October 15 from Saint-Jean-de-Monts.

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