Christophe le Saux has been a RaidLight athlete for several years. Passionate Ultra runner, he specializes in stage races or challenges. He travels the world in search of the summits to climb, always running. He tells us about his last challenge in 2019, the 7 wild trails.
What is the 7 wild trail ?
7 Wild Trails is 7 challenges, to set 7 new records in 7 countries (Iceland, Peru, Canada, Nepal, New Zealand, Morocco and Italy) and 6 continents in total.
My goal is to go trail running on wild routes that I will do in total autonomy and without assistance.
This project is close to my heart because it is associated with the association Everest en Sable and Équipe Défi Joëlette. My goal is to finance a Joëlette, so I could take handicapped children with me on some of my challenges, it will allow them to get out of their everyday life and live unforgettable adventures!
What's your program?
In 2018 I have already achieved 4 of the 7 challenges, including a crossing of Iceland, 320km non stop in June, the tour of the Cordillera Huayhuash in Peru, a 130km crossing with 8000m of positive altitude difference.
In September I went back to North America to travel the Sunshine Coast in Canada, unfortunately sometimes you have to be reasonable and physically, my body gave out.
I went back to Asia in November to do the Annapurna circuit in Nepal, and was able to set a new record on this 220km route with 14000m of elevation.
In March 2019 I will leave for New Zealand for a new challenge of 110km with 6000m of elevation then in June I will fly to Africa to cross the High Atlas in Morocco which I was able to do a reconnaissance with friends this year and then the tour of the Aosta Valley in Italy in September.
Where did you get this idea?
I haven't had a real "home" for 5 years now and I've been travelling the world like a modern-day vagabond in search of thrills! I had this idea because I find that Ultra racing has evolved, we have lost the adventure side of 15 years ago when I started ultra racing and that is really what makes me vibrate.
It is nevertheless an understandable turning point, trail has become more democratic, also becoming more accessible at the same time and it's a good thing to see!
I'd rather see people running in the wild than locked up inside.
I still do about ten competitions a year but it's getting harder and harder for me to be on the front line because I'm getting older (47 years old in 2019), and that makes me think.
My dream would have been to go around the world only with the strength of my body. Crossing oceans by rowing, climbing summits by skiing and running or even pedalling... Unfortunately due to lack of means this project was not feasible, but I felt that I had to do something before I could have this motivation.
It's a project that resides in sharing, I don't live these adventures alone, whether it's through the incredible people who cross my path, those who share the adventure at my side whether on the field or virtually via the content that I put forward on my networks.
I'm accompanied by a media, photo and video production team, we'll create 8 films and then tour internationally to broadcast them and share these landscapes and cultures that I had the opportunity to discover during my challenges.
What does this project mean to you?
This project is surely a turning point in my career.
Adventure is a bit like my life, and this project is like me, it is rustic, autonomous and very hard. 7 It also represents a return to traditional values, to make dream those who do not have the ability to travel in such an environment.
How do you get around?
I'm globally quite autonomous, I manage myself.
I have friends who accompany me and with me give a hand in communication, social networks and content creation.
I have 2 cameramen with me, Thomas and Stéphane who accompany me to make the images in order to edit my films on my challenge. I also have my partner RaidLight who provides me with quality equipment and Unifer as well as other companies who give me financial support.
How are you organizing yourself to carry out this project?
I plan everything in advance (flights, rentals, accommodations which are generally in tents, shelters or homes).
Usually for a stay we leave for about ten days to take the time to acclimatize to the country, to visit it and to soak in it.
The exact date of the challenge is taken in a range of 3 to 4 days to have a good weather window and from the time of departure, I remain autonomous until the finish line.
I take all my equipment in my pack as well as my food, which usually represents 2 days of food. My Responsiv 18L vest weighs between 5 and 8kg with the extra water that I get from rivers or puddles with a survival straw
I also carry a small first aid kit with some medicines and enough to make bandages and stitches, a Dotvision GPS beacon; my mobile phone that gives me GPS and means of communication with the rest of the team to give them information on my progress and my health.
I really needed it in Canada where I really suffered. Luckily, my friend Mika was there all night long, and we supported ourselves morally and physically to fight the storm and the cold that came down on us.
We got lost, trees were falling in the forest a few meters away from us, lightning was close to hit us, we were really lucky to come out of it just with fatigue and advanced hypothermia.
It was the first time I had to stop my challenge at 28km from the finish after having covered 139km .
It's only a postponed part because I plan to do it again in August 2019.
Concerning the routes, they were chosen on known trails so that people could quickly identify the place, it also helped me to find information, GPS tracks and to find my way more easily since I couldn't do any reconnaissance.
I only did recon on two of the expeditions, Morocco and Italy. I had to check the route because I will be accompanied by young disabled children on a joëlette. They are going to do a little bit of the way with me and I hope to live an unforgettable adventure.
Once again a big thank you to the associations Everest en Sable and Equipe Défi Joëlette for the work they do and the happiness they bring.
Will you ever stop?
I don't think I'll ever stop.
For me the trail continues on foot, so if one day I can't run anymore, I'll walk and say I'm an adventurer.
At the moment I'm in London, it's only been 1 month since I stopped my nomadic life and I already miss it, I think I'm an adventure seeker and I love discovering new countries and their culture. I'm really looking forward to exploring the trails of New Zealand in March which will be my 5th challenge, a country I don't know at all.
Today I still feel like a child, I want to taste everything, touch everything and discover everything, but I know that one day I won't be able to do what I'm doing now.
See you soon for new adventures!