New record! 14 Summits in the Bauges Mountain Range in 14H26
The Massif des Bauges is a mountain range found in Eastern France, stretching from the city of Annecy to the city of Chambery in the French Prealps.
The Bauges have a total of 14 summits, all of which are above 2,000 metres altitude and with extremely technical terrain.
Several groups of friends or individuals have carried out the route by foot. In 2010, four Alpine soldiers from Savoy took 23:47hrs, while the biggest name in Ultra Trail Running and current record holder; François D'Haene completed it in 18:21' in 2018. The crossing measures 82km for around 8800m elevation gain. There only stood one goal for Aurelien Dunand-Pallaz...to complete the route in under 18 hours and put his name in the history books of the 14 Summits of the Bauges Mountain Range.
Setting off at 2:30am on Saturday 27th June, Aurelien chose to circuit the route in the opposite direction to record holder D´haene. His aim was to conclude the crossing under 17:00 hours. But what he eventually conquered was something he really didn't expect….. When he reached the finish in 14 hours and 26 minutes beating the record by almost 4 hours.
I grew up in the small village of Marthod, at the end of the Massif des Bauges and at the foot of the Dent de Cons. This mountain is the one I have climbed many times because it is here that I discovered my passion for walking in the mountains and more generally for Trail running. Since 2012, I trained a lot in this Massif and I finally discovered all its peaks. The idea of reaching all these peaks in one day had been in my head for a while and my GPS track had been ready for a few years. It only remained to find the right moment …
He studied the route carefully so that he took the least possible time while following paths and passages that he knew well.
The terrain is very alpine, often technical and sometimes a bit risky on the edges. But his knowledge of the terrain and his preparation allowed him to move safely on the whole crossing while enjoying the landscapes, its fauna and flora.
From the start, I immediately felt very good. So I took the opportunity to keep a good pace, whether it was uphill or downhill. The first big night descent is very steep, technical and requiring a lot of focus, so I remain very vigilant. At daybreak, I always progressed quickly and I took the opportunity to have fun on the technical parts, in the rocks or on the edges. By mid-morning, the wind picked up and there were quite a few clouds. This benefited me because the temperatures were still not too high. Around noon, the sun appeared more intensely and the first hot weather. So I had to drink more but the sensations were still good. For the last 5 hours, I had very sore feet on the downhill sections. Indeed, the sequence of wet feet at the start of the day and extreme heat in the afternoon damaged the skin of my feet. In the last big climb, of 1500mD+, I had a very low point for 10 '.... I had to stop for a few moments in a very steep section in order to refuel well. But then the sensations returned gradually. Aside from this moment, the day went very well…
The second part of his 2018 trail running season was cut short by foot pain and the whole of 2019 was completely ruined by a stress fracture. In fact it had been since April 2018 that he had not run more than 8 hours at a time.
I was confident for this crossing since my preparation was good but there was still a little doubt about my ability to go the distance and to resist the pain of very long efforts. I can now be happy to see that everything went well.
Besides this, during the recent confinement, he did not put on the running shoes for 4 and a half weeks. He trained exclusively on the home bike trainer, before gradually taking back up running.
Once the muscles of my legs re-accustomed to the constraints again, I was able to increase the distance of my training. I also took the opportunity to recognize once again, certain parts of my crossing to be well prepared.
Whatsmore, he was not alone in his attempt, with tremendous support during this day!
First, my family and loved ones who were present at the start, at 2:30 am. Then at each refueling, where everything was ready so that I lost as little time as possible. There were not less than 25 people at each point! I then had the help and pacing of several friends on the way. There were 4 - 5 of them, taking turns from daybreak. On the last climb, I had the good surprise to see a dozen people from my in-laws waiting for me at the top. Additionally, there was also the Compressport staff who were present from start to finish on the different summits to celebrate this crossing. On arrival it was so special..there were about 50 of us to have a drink, chat and end the day together.
But that is not it for the Frenchman who is just getting his season started. In 2 weeks he plans to go on vacation in Corsica where he will take the opportunity to do the GR20 in 4 days.
At the beginning of August, normally, if the sensations and recovery have gone well, he will take part in 1 or 2 races near his home with the Trail of Méribel. In October, he plans to participate in the Diagonale des Fous but before this he has a (very) big challenge which awaits him at the beginning of September. He plans to tackle the record of elevation gain achieved in 24 hours (current record standing is 17,000mD+). This challenge will take place in his adopted municipality of the Marthod. What were the most important go-to products for Aurelien´s crossing? He explains that 3 products were crucial:
Firstly the Ultrun bag, for its lightness, its stability and its carrying capacity. Second, the caps. At daybreak I first wore an Ultralight visor for its lightness and to face the breakthroughs of the sun. From the beginning of the afternoon, I opted for a cap to cope with the heat. Finally, I used Oxygen sleeves for their support, lightness and breathability.