Gregoire Curmer breaks the record for the Chamonix-Briançon crossing
Gregoire Curmer, Martin Kern and Baptiste Robin broke the record for the Chamonix-Briançon on the mythical GR 5 hiking trail crossing on Sunday 5th July.
They joined the two French mountaineering capitals in 31 hours 45 minutes and 13 seconds. The trails in France alone cover approximately 60,000 kilometres. The GR 5 trail is also known as the Grand Traverse of the Alps and extends over 2,290 km. One such piece of this GR5 path is that of the Chamonix-Briançon range in the French Alps. With 203 km and over 12,500 metres of elevation gain, it stands as one of the most difficult, yet beautiful multi-day hiking experiences in the world.
The previous record is held by the trio François d'Haene, Michel Lanne and Thomas Véricel, who did the Chamonix to Briançon crossing in 37h 51m 39s, back in 2011. Now it was Compressport´s own Diagonle des Fous 2019 Champion; Gregoire Curmer´s turn to break this mark. The Chamonix native has a lot of experience living and training this path numerous times, so it is essentially like ´playing in his own backyard´. Joining him were fellow French trail runners; Martin Kern and Baptiste Robin who are locals to the Briancon region. ¨It was a very nice adventure to connect the two capitals of French mountaineering¨ Getting underway before sunrise at 4am Saturday 4thJuly, in downtime Chamonix, Gregoire led the trio out of the famous mountain village, with the aim of going under the 32-hour mark. In incredible style, they arrived at Briancon on Sunday morning after 31 hours, 45 minutes and 13 seconds of running, to place their names in the record books.
"I knew a bit about the start of the route, but after two hours I discovered absolutely incredible parts like going into the beautiful fort crossing… The entire Vanoise park with its lakes and greenery and then arriving towards Briançon where the terrain becomes completely dry and the trees change. Then when we approached the South the landscapes were breathtaking"
From the beginning, everything seemed to run smoothly for the French trio. So well in fact that they had to slow down and remind themselves of the long-term goal.¨The day went very well in general, we left at a fairly steady pace to the first pass. After, we quickly slowed down because we felt that we were going really fast to be able to make the finish in good shape. Obviously there were complicated passages physically. Martin suffered through some bad moments, while Baptiste also had some digestion problems… strong enough for us to have to adapt the pace and help him to recover well as fast as possible to start again. From my part, I was lucky I had no problems at all, both physically and mentally which allowed for a perfect day!¨
Ultra Trail Running is often a very lonely sport, where you can end up racing and training alone for hours on end. For Gregoire, this project was a chance to enjoy something he rarely gets the chance to do. ¨The feeling of running, as a group of three for me was really very pleasant and a nice discovery. It allowed us to help each other in the ascents and also to be able to talk together and share these beautiful summits, while laughing a lot along the way.¨
While the context of the current World Wide Health situation and the lockdown measures in place in his country were challenging, Gregoire saw it rather as an opportunity to be better.
¨For me the lockdown didn't change a lot, just the fact that we could not go out for long training runs in the mountains. But the preparation is exactly the same. I did not feel hindered but on the contrary it allowed me to relax and think of something else to do... So I was able to prepare for this GR5 exactly like an ultra race. I did not do any more specific work. I knew that I just had to be ready for a long distance and that afterwards the mind would do the main part of the work. I was lucky to not be in difficulty, neither mentally or physically so I feel that this approach worked very well.
The entire route was very well planned. They had factored in five official fueling points where their great support team ensured they had everything to keep them warm, dry and energised.
"I had my brother with me who takes care of me in all the races. We also had Laura, our personal assistance at each point. But we were very surprised to see all the people on the route that came out to encourage and support us in this great project!"
But this is only the beginning for Gregoire who says once he is well recovered, plans to race in Corsica before later concluding this shortened season with some other big objectives.
Finally, he shares with us the secret products that helped him remain at his best…. It was very important to rely on my Compressport products because I know them very well and they give me a feeling of confidence in all conditions. I know that I will not have any friction on my skin; they feel very light and breathe perfectly. I used the Full Socks Oxygen Race throughout the whole journey. This allowed me to keep my calves in good condition and ensured there were no tears in the muscle fibres. During the night it also protected me from the cold. On my upper body, I have also used the Long Sleeve Training T-Shirts that kept me warm during the night and also and ensured I did not get too hot as it breathed very well. To keep the sun off my head, I used the caps and Ultra light Visors to keep me protected during the warmth of the day. I am really very proud to have been able to wear Compressport and I am very happy that I am accompanied throughout the year in this great personal project.
A race that provided a lot more than expected with unfortunate course markings never stopped our athletes from giving up the fight. Grégoire Curmer took a great win, Ludovic Pommeret finish equal 2nd while Dav Hauss was impressive with 6th place in his longest ever race!