They are about forty to meet this sunny Wednesday evening at the foot of the Montmartre hill, in Paris. Uniform: flocked T-shirt with the name of a race held during the year, small backpack with a water bladder, ultra-technical running trainers. Most know each other well, greet each other with a fist “check” before the start of the warm-up announced by Olivier Acampora, cap backwards and three-day beard, volunteer coach within the Team Trail Paris ociation. . In the neighborhood, residents have become accustomed to having to slalom between urban trail runners in search of elevation changes.
While the group rushes up the stairs of the mound, alternating ascents of knees and heels-buttocks, the coach is surprised at the success of the club: “Two years ago, there were fifteen of us per session. Today, it sometimes goes up to sixty. We have limited membership to the ociation to 230 people, and we have to refuse a lot of people every year.. »
The objective of these weekly training sessions: to prepare members to run over long distances, or even, for the bravest, to attempt the Grail of runners in search of overtaking, the ultra-trail. This racing format born in the 1970s in the United States pushes all the limits of endurance, with courses of more than 80 kilometers in the heart of nature, often in extreme conditions, in high mountains, in the middle of the desert or in the tropical climate of Reunion.
Ten years ago, fans of this hobby were considered crazy. From now on – evidenced by the enthusiasm for this small Parisian club – the ultra-trail has become a fashionable pastime among city dwellers. “After Covid-19, people need to get some fresh air, to run. Some turned to the ultra, it exploded. Now, it should be more mixed: with us, there are only senior managers”regrets Olivier Acampora – he is a project manager at Pôle emploi.
Among the regulars of the Team Trail Paris sessions, Hélène Gat, 37, brown ponytail and water flask in hand, would never have believed herself capable of running more than twenty hours in a row without sleeping. “I was doing short distances, and then I realized that 30 kilometers was okay, 40 too. I kept pushing my limits to see where I could stop. Today, I run between 70 and 80 kilometers per week. I discovered unexplored resources for myself”she says, with an almost surprised smile.
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