Christophe le Saux has been a Raidlight athlete for several years. Passionate Ultra Runner, he specialises in stage races or adventurous challenges. He travels the world in search of summits to climb, always running. He tells us about his latest challenge achieved in 2019, the 7 wild trails.
The 7 wild trails is what?
The 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 undertake adventurous routes that I will do fastpack/trail running, in self sufficiency and without assistance. This project is close to my heart as it is associated with the association Everest en Sable and Team Joëlette Challenge. My goal is to finance a Joëlette, so I could take disabled children with me on some of my challenges, it will allow them to take a lot of fun and get out of their daily life, make them live unforgettable adventures..
What is your schedule?
In 2018 I had already been able to complete 4 of the 7 challenges including a crossing of Iceland that is 320km non stop in June, completed the tour of the Cordillera Huayhuash in Peru, a 130km crossing with 8000m of elevation gain.
In September I went back to North America to run 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 tour the Anapurnas in Nepal, and was able to set a new record on this 220km route with 14000m of elevation gain. In March 2019 I will go to New Zealand for a new challenge of 110km with 6000m of ascent then in June I will fly to Africa to realize the crossing of the High Atlas in Morocco of which I was able to make a reconnaissance with friends this year then the tour of the Aosta Valley in Italy in September.
Where did you get this idea?
It's been 5 years since I have no real "home" and I've been traveling the world like a modern day wanderer in search of thrills! I had this idea because I find that competition has evolved, we have lost this adventure side of 15 years ago when I started in the ultra trail and which is really what makes me vibrate.
It is nevertheless an understandable turn, Ultra has become more democratic, also becoming more accessible at the same time and this is a good thing that is good to see!
I'd rather see people running in nature, than cooped up inside.
I still do about 10 competitions a year but it's getting harder and harder for me to be on the front lines as I'm getting older (47 in 2019), and it makes me think. My dream would have been to go around the world only with the strength of my body. To cross the oceans by rowing, to climb the summits by skiing and running or even by pedaling .... Unfortunately due to lack of means this project was not feasible, but I felt that I had to do something before I no longer had this motivation.
It is a project that lies in sharing, I do not live these adventures alone, whether by the incredible people who cross my path, those who share the adventure with me whether on the ground or virtually via the content I put forward on my networks.
I am accompanied by a media, photo and video production team, we will create 8 films and then do an international tour 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 surely represents a turning point in my career.
Adventure is a bit of my life, and this project looks like me, it is rustic, self sufficient and very hard. It also represents a return to traditional values, to make dream those who do not have the ability to travel in such environments.
How did you surround yourself?I'm overall pretty self-sufficient, I'm self-governing.
I have friends who accompany me and with give me a hand in terms of communication, social networks and content creation.
I have 2 cameramen with me, Thomas and Stephane who accompany me to make the images in order and 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 provide me with financial support.
How are you organizing yourself to complete this project?
I plan everything in advance (flights, rentals, accommodations which are overall in tents, huts or homestays).
Generally for a stay we leave for about ten days to take the time to acclimate to the country, to visit it and to immerse ourselves in it. The exact date of the challenge is taken within a range of 3 to 4 days to have a good weather window and from the time of departure, I remain self sufficient until the finish line.
I carry all my Raidlight gear in my bag as well as my food, which is usually 2 days worth of food. My Responsiv 18L weighs in these cases between 5 and 8kg with the extra water that I collect in rivers or puddles with a survival straw
I also have with me a small first aid kit with some medicines and what to make bandages and stitches, a GPS Dotvision beacon; my mobile that I use as a gps and means of communication with the rest of the team to give them information on my progress and my health status.
I really needed it in Canada where I really suffered. Fortunately, that Mika my friend was there during the whole night, and we supported each other morally and physically to fight against the storm and the cold that were relentless on us. We got lost, trees were falling in the forest a few meters away from us, lightning was close to strike us, we were really lucky to come out of it just with fatigue and advanced hypothermia. This is the first time I had to stop my challenge at 28 km from the finish line after having run 139 km. It's only a postponement as I plan to do it again in August 2019 .
Regarding the courses, they were chosen on known trails so that people quickly identify the place, it also helped me to find information, GPS tracks and locate myself more easily beforehand since I could not do reconnaissance.
I only recce'd two expeditions, the Morocco challenge and the Italy challenge. I will have to scout the route because I will be accompanied by young disabled children on joëlette. They will run with me for a while and I hope to have an unforgettable adventure.
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 fastpacking is still running, so if one day I can't run anymore, I'll walk and say I'm a trail runner still . At the moment I'm in London, it's only 1 month since I stopped my nomadic life and I already miss it, I think I'm a fanatical adventurer and I like to discover new countries and their culture. I'm really looking forward to explore 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 am doing now.
See you soon for more adventures!