ultra trail“It’s too hard”: Mathieu Blanchard tells his UTMB from the inside
Ultratrailer Mathieu Blanchard finished second behind Kilian Jornet at the Mont-Blanc Ultratrail. In his podcast, the Frenchman talks about the race from the inside without skimping on anything.
For viewers, it’s about two aliens who traveled 170 kilometers in less than 20 hours – a feat. A race with a start, a finish and opponents who overtake each other. But when you take a closer look at the sport and the way athletes experience the Ultratrail du Mont-Blanc (UTMB), the level of physical and mental work is striking.
To share all these moments, Mathieu Blanchard, ultratrailer (and anecdotally former contestant of the TV show “Koh-Lanta”) created his podcast “In my bath” more than a year ago. Ranked number one in France, its latest installment takes the listener to the heart of the UTMB. Every doubt, every burst of energy comes through with raw honesty. Do we do the highlights (after)?
One last pee and go
Only minutes left before the lions are released and the runners start walking there. Mathieu knows he’s about twenty hours away. “Last pee in a long time,” he cheerfully announces to his companions before heading to a bush.
Once seated under the starting arch alongside one Pau Capell – who set the competition record in 2019 – the Frenchman looks confident.
“Don’t Forget Your Porridge”
Alix Noblat – who also worked on Koh-Lanta – followed her companion Mathieu with all the supplies. The assisted ones, which allow her to ask him what he needs, get everything ready, but also assess his condition for the rest of the race – and the unassisted ones, where she can only shout: “ALLEZ MATHIEU” to him support.
Many people in the trail world were impressed by Mathieu Blanchard’s quick pit stops. “We’re printing, okay?” asked the one who ran the OCC (55km) for the week. OK for Mathieu, who has gained significant minutes from such ‘pit stops’ in Formula 1.
The listener, immersed in the midst of these sporting moments, hears Mathieu attempting to debate and ask questions about the pace of the race and his opponents. Alix, she’s urging him to eat as efficiently as possible so he can walk fast. Kind of a “shut up and eat your mashed potatoes” kind of devilishly effective.
“It is too hard”
“He had crocodile tears!” In the car leaving Trento (unless there was a marathon to finish), Alix Noblat was a little unsure of “her” runner’s attitude. Mathieu Blanchard had just cried in his arms. “It’s too hard,” he said, beaten in the legs after more than 120 kilometers. Luckily for him, his girlfriend wasn’t there to make him give up. “You were made for this. You won’t have stolen it from anyone, she started to revive him. Come on, let’s bomb!
Blanchard better downhill, Jornet uphill: The Catalan was able to make the difference on La Tête aux Vents and secured the final part of the race with an eight-minute lead.
Chat upon arrival
It is a great cruelty to set a competitive record without winning the race. Mathieu Blanchard came well under the 20-hour mark, but his opponent and idol Kilian Jornet was 6 minutes faster (19h49’30”).
The two men chatted at the finish line. The Frenchman lying on the ground revealed in his podcast that they thanked each other for the race. They have pushed forward in difficult times to achieve an almost unexpected record. “Kilian told me that it was one of the most beautiful races of his life,” confided the second to the UTMB. That’s good, it certainly was for him too.
We sense a certain emotion in the runner’s voice when he talks about the first trail videos that made him start this type of race. The author? Killian Jornet. Since then the Frenchman has come, seen and almost won. With his podcast he was also able to share and make people want to discover the trail running environment. He doesn’t want to stop there because he plans to write a book about his adventures. Who writes the foreword? Of course Kilian Jornet.
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