Her express CV :
My top 5 Trail results:
– French Mountain Running Champion, 2017
– 1st in the Ergysport Trail du Ventoux in 2017 and first selection for the French trail team
– Individual and team World Trail Champion, 2017
– Trail Team World Vice-Champion, 2018
– Trail Team World Champion, 2019
Roads or paths... Why do we have to choose?
In ‘real life’, I am 37 years old and I am now a ‘route referent’. Behind this title is actually a support job for people who receive the RSA in my department and we are there to help them find a job. This doesn’t mean that I replace the people at the Pole Emploi of course, it’s more a work of helping them to return to society with housing, health and even sport since I have managed to reconcile my two main activities by offering sports coaching sessions. As I hoped, this can be very beneficial in regaining self-confidence. Like all jobs based on human beings, it is both exciting and sometimes a bit difficult to manage psychologically when you are faced with people who have lived through such heavy things… And this is where you have to run for yourself too. Nothing really predestined me to do this job, it’s a long journey and encounters that have brought me to where I am today.
It’s funny to see how important sport has become in my life, even though it wasn’t part of my childhood at all. For my father, the most physical activity he did was playing bowls (even if we agree that petanque can be a real sport, don’t make me angry with everyone!) and my mother wasn’t much more sporty. But paradoxically enough, they are the ones who got me into sports since I started gymnastics at 3 and a half years old. I started competing very quickly and it wouldn’t have been possible without their commitment and investment. Spending weekends on the road to take their child and waiting for hours in a gym is not necessarily the most exciting thing. As is often the case, I started running with cross-country and it was there that I discovered the notion of individual sport and above all that I loved it! You train for yourself, your results are your own, and so are the failures, all of which was more in keeping with my character. I joined the Club Athlétique Roannais, where I still am. I really come from what is called the “Ecole de l’Athlé”.
Very quickly my physique oriented me towards middle-distance running and I quickly moved on to the marathon. Surprisingly enough, it was because I was injuring myself too often on cross-country (repeated periostitis) that my trainer advised me to move up in distance on another type of terrain. At the age of 25 I ran my first 42km195, this was in 2009. At that time it was much rarer than today to see a young woman running this distance. In 2014 I decided to train on my own, I feel that I have learned enough and have a good knowledge of how to function. I am still a “normal” person, who one day saw the images of the Diagonale de Fous on TV and thought “one day I will go there too”. But I also had in mind, I must admit, to get back into the French team jersey. In athletics, I had the chance to wear it but as a junior. As an adult I quickly realised that it would be much more complicated for me to have this honour. In trail running, there was a card to play, so I played my cards right by going for this discipline.
In 2015, I entered the French Championships to compete against the best French girls and I finished second in the short format. 2016, I entered the long format. Nothing really goes as planned, I finish 4th but due to a mistake in the course of some competitors, I go back to 3rd place. And it is on this occasion that Philippe Propage enters my life! Of course we knew each other a little bit because he has been in the world of high level athletics for almost as long as I can remember. That’s when he took me under his wing. It’s true that everything I’m saying here may seem rather paradoxical, I readily admit it! I chose athletics for its individual character, whereas I only had one motivation, to join the French team and therefore live the collective to the full… I didn’t want a coach and I trusted Philippe to help me reach my objectives.
Among my worst memories, the marathon in Beirut during the Games of the Francophonie was easily the first step of the podium. Running a marathon with the GIGN in charge of your protection, already it throws a cold… The course is anything but ready, we are two at the start, I am facing an Eritrean woman who has a much better PR than mine, which means that I will run alone during the 42km and 195m with the ambulance on my back as I am the last one. I finished in 3h02, my worst time and I spent the whole race going through my life wondering what the hell I was doing there. So I finish last but second… and of course with a doping control at the end. But you’re going to fill a jam jar with your urine when it was 28°C and the random refuelling made you totally dry? My best memory is finally the year I broke my marathon record. That day I had the feeling that the planets aligned, I experienced the perfect race from start to finish. It’s an absolutely incredible feeling where you just feel invisible. But let’s be clear, these moments are rare, even for me! That’s why you have to savour them. The only negative point is that my family wasn’t there to celebrate. After obviously the trail du Ventoux where I came to get my selection for the France in 2017 that I won, it can only be a good memory too.
I haven’t forgotten my dream of the Diagonale des Fous for all that! I’m planning to be there with a friend for our 40th anniversary. I think I will have achieved everything I dreamed of doing in terms of competition, and then it will be time to fulfil more personal dreams. I must admit that I am not an absolute fan of ultra running, what attracts me are the unique landscapes. I did a 90km at the World Championships but frankly that’s not what attracts me at all. I like running, and preferably all the time. It’s almost impossible on this type of race, I know, so if I go, it’s for the human adventure only, not for the competition. In the meantime, I am very happy to have joined a team like Evadict, even if I know that many people were surprised. I never hid from it, I always refused to do it before. I refused not to be able to wear the colours of my club, Athlétique Roannais, which made me who I am. But this project was really too beautiful and too inspiring for me to pass up. It is an honour but above all a real pleasure to be part of this team of truly inspiring women with different but perfectly complementary profiles, and this is far from always being the case, believe me!
Article written by Cecile Bertin, Run Fit & Fun.