At 4:14 a.m. on Monday June 19, Sébastien Raichon became the first runner to complete the Chartreuse Terminorum, a race of 300 kilometers and 25,000 meters of elevation gain, considered one of the toughest in the world. Never, in the brief history of the event, founded in 2017 and of which this is the fifth edition, has a runner managed to complete the fifth loop of 60 kilometers traced in the Chartreuse massif, in Isère, near Grenoble. The previous record was just over four loops.
After 71 hours and 26 minutes of effort, and eight hours ahead of the time limit, the Vaucluse, headlamp still on, had retained all his lucidity: “I’m the first to finish, it’s great. I have great self-confidence. I thought I could do it, even if it’s not that easy! I wasn’t in the shape of my lifereported the French, on the Facebook page of the Terminorum. On the first lap, I clearly saw that I wasn’t “flying”, I did it mentally, from experience, my body is so used to doing stuff like that that even if I’m not not on top, it’s ok. »
In civilian life, Sébastien Raichon is a sports teacher, and he is one of the world’s leading specialists in very long distance races. In September, he won the Tour des Glaciers, a race of 450 kilometers for 32 kilometers of elevation gain, beating the record for the event (a little less than 124 hours, a little more than five days). . Since 2021, he has also held the GR5 record (in 150 hours), i.e. a crossing of the French Alps from north to south (623 kilometers, 34 kilometers of elevation gain) between Thonon-les-Bains (Haute-Savoie) and Nice (Alpes- Maritimes).
A race inspired by the mythical “Barkley”
The Charterhouse Terminorum, created in 2017 by the founder of a sports equipment brand established in the region, is directly inspired by another race: the Barkley, organized since 1986 in Tennessee, in the United States. Assumed little sister of the event founded in 1986 by the earthy “Lazarus Lake” – and the only race in the world dubbed by the organizers of the legendary Tennessee event – it borrows several principles and part of its folklore.
The race is made up of five loops that runners must cover in a given time, with a simple map, without any markings or the use of a GPS. Participants must prove that they have followed the course by tearing out from books placed at strategic points the page corresponding to their bib number.
During the fourth edition of the Chartreuse Terminorum, on June 18, 2022, in Saint-Pierre-de-Chartreuse. BENOIT LAGNEUX / PHOTOPQR/LE DAUPHINE/MAXPPP
Unlike many ultra-trail races, which are overpriced, the registration fees are modest: 3 euros (and a little local strong alcohol). The start is scheduled between midnight and noon on Friday and given one hour after the riders have been awakened by a bugle call. Bugle that also sounds for each participant choosing to drop out. Between each lap, the riders must also, where required, swallow a little Chartreuse elixir (69 degrees of alcohol).
Aurélien Sanchez, who in March became the first Frenchman to finish – and win – the Barkley, had to retire after four laps. “I was not ready to fight any longer”said the Toulousain, who suffered from fatigue and pain at the end of the first loop.
Read also: Ultratrail: Aurélien Sanchez, first Frenchman to win and finish the mythical Barkley
Five Race Finishers No One Had Ever Finished
A total of 38 participants were selected this year, among the 200 candidates who sent a motivation letter to the organizers. And all set off, Friday at dawn, to attack the Chartreuse massif, around the monastery of the same name.
Thanks in particular to favorable conditions, moderate heat and dry ground, the race that no one had ever finished has this year not one, but five finishers. In addition to Sébastien Raichon, Mickaël Berthon, Albert Herrero Casas, Benoît Bachelet and Nicolas Moyroud completed the five laps on time.
Among the women too, this Chartreuse Terminorum was the occasion for a record: Alice Juramy, the last woman in the race, completed two loops (120 kilometres), becoming the first woman to do so. In all, only twelve riders, out of the 38 starters, have completed three loops.
Will the next edition be even more difficult? In any case, this is what Sébastien Raichon suggested, half-joking half-seriously, on arrival: “I don’t know if it’s good for the Terminorum if there are five ‘finishers’ each year. Before the race, the media emphasized that no one had ever succeeded! »