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Aurelien, tell us how it went: what you experienced was more of a journey than a race...
"As soon as we started I felt really good. The first twenty kilometres were simple ups and downs, not the perfect terrain for me. Then came the night, and it was really very cold also because of the fog and the rain. Some people were affected, but I love those conditions. And I didn't even stop when I broke a pole at the 35th kilometre, on the contrary, I always kept the leading group".

When did the turning point come?
"Around the 85th kilometre, I took control of the race. There were some long descents, I was able to gain a few minutes. Then little by little the sun started to heat up, towards the end of the race it was really really hot. When there were 15 kilometres to go, I realized that I could really do it, I had a quarter of an hour lead over the second.

And the rest was just glory, wasn't it?
"It was a wonderful race, I loved every kilometre of it: the roads, the forest trails, the technical routes. Maybe the heat at the end of the race, due to the fatigue, bothered me a bit. But it was my first great victory in an international race, there were very strong athletes. I am very happy".

The classic happy ending after years and years of training. When did you start with the sport?
"From the age of four to sixteen, I always played soccer, from ten to eighteen I was also passionate about ski mountaineering. Until 2012, when I started with trails. It was a sort of bet, I started when I was admitted to physical therapy school. It seemed ideal to me: the sport immersed in the nature that I love the most, the mountain one".

Does your family support you?
"They are all big fans of the mountains, they love to hike or do bike rides, but also ski mountaineering. No one is a professional athlete. But we live in beautiful places, I moved to Haute-Savoie a few months ago, right next to Lake Annecy".

About the Transgrancanaria you told us. Were there any other unforgettable challenges in your career?
"Definitely the French trail championship in 2018, I became national champion. It was the perfect terrain for me: elevation gain and technical descents, I love those races. I had all my family there, the finish was really exciting."

By the way, this season is just beginning. Have you set any new goals for yourself?
"I would like to run the 90 kilometres of Mont Blanc, where I aspire to the podium. But then there's the Utmb, which is kind of a childhood dream for me. It's run close to home, it's a legendary race. I'd like to finish in the top ten. And for the end of the season, I have my sights set on the World Long Trail Championships in November in Thailand."

Now and then you'll relax, though. Or are you always busy training?
(laughs, ed.) "I'd love to be in the mountains all the time, but now and then I also have to get out and work. I am in fact a physiotherapist, but when I can I also get a few hours as a trail running and ski mountaineering instructor. I love eating well and cooking, I love spending time in the kitchen preparing my favourite recipes. Now I would also like to start a family. But I will certainly never leave the mountains I love. I feel free here. I know I can go wherever I want. I can forget all the problems of everyday life and clear my head. I can enjoy the smells of the different seasons, admire the flora and fauna of the moment. The mountains, this is the environment where I feel best."

Photo Credits: Jose Miguel Munoz


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