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Thibault Voglet – J+0 Saint Jean Pied de Port

Published on
30 June 2022

X-Pyr  J+0   Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port

That’s it, here we are, this is the big day, this is the start of the X-Pyr from the beach …  Who says new day of champion says breakfast of champion, and for that nothing better than a good dose of scrambled egg with acoffee. We then pack up the camp, set the van in order and head for the beach, where the race starts. There we meet Antoine Doumenc and his daughter who came to support Thibault and watch the start of the race and the arrival at the first turnpoint. From the finish, we can feel a slight tension among the competitors, a slight stress, we check the instruments again, is everything going well? Do I have the right track to go to the first turnpoint 25km away? And on foot too? On our side, we are ready, all seems well. I take advantage of this wait to prepare the lunch, on the menu, wraps composed of fresh cheese, cucumber, apple, salad and smoked salmon. The last minutes pass, the countdown of the last seconds is launched and bim the departure is launched in the general euphoria, all the athletes leave at the race pace, and it is left for seven days of adventures & 605 km as the crow flies. But let’s start small, first stage, the 25km and its 800m of d+ to reach the first turnpoint. While Thomas leaves with Antoine to join the rack railway station (about 50 minutes away by car), allowing him to reach the summit without effort, I keep myself busy with the last preparations such as paying the campsite, filling the water tank of the van. Once ready, I go in pursuit of Thibault on the course to bring him the necessary assistance such as water, snacks and of course the musical presence. After about ten kilometres I find him and it goes on; like dance steps; the “I pass you, I find a car park, we wave and do it again”. The crucial moment arrives, I cannot go any further. We take the opportunity to make some changes to the equipment such as shoes and walking sticks and we go to meet Thomas & Antoine at the summit after 800m of d+. As for me, I’m going to wait in the North East of the place, just where -normally- I should more or less find Thibault & Thomas on the top after their glide. On my little car park in the shade of the trees, it’s time to get acquainted with the assistant of Édouard Potel who immediately catalogued me: I knew it was you who was coming just by the ear. 

Thibault takes off before Thomas and I find them in a garden, where more or less a dozen pilots have landed … the owners quite not too glad about those intrusions in their gardens. And so begins a second walk with Rémi Bourdelle towards Mount Errebi (582,7m). The opportunity to visit the picturesque village of Ainhoa all dressed in white and red. Thomas joins him for this climb while Rémi drops the watts on the way up. On my side I’m going to wait in Espellete, the occasion for a second picturesque visit but a little bit disappointed, it’s still all dressed in white & red, but they sell here all the victuals of the world … with chilli pepper of course. I pick up Thomas on the road while Thibault does a mini glide “Objectif Fougères” with Rémi. Second departure from Mount Atxulegi (616m). During a few minutes, the hope of a good flight is perhaps felt once the Mount Mondarrain is bypassed, but we face our biggest default to all: the lack of patience; and whereas some manage to get out of it to glide during some additional kilometres (not tens nevertheless…), we touch the ground in the surroundings of Itxassou. Thibault barely has time to fold his sail when we arrive and a team of X-Pyr Race reporters jump on him for an interview straight off.

A long walk begins with the objective to reach Saint Jean Pied-de-Port for the evening. I swap the accelerator and brake pedals for my trusty Vibram FiveFingers and walk with him. On the way we take the time to observe what the others are doing in front of us, some take the option of walking on the flat, others climb towards the south pillar of Baigura.  The latter option could take us 8 to 10km further, but this would mean having to do another 900m of d+. In view of the weather forecast for tomorrow, Monday, which is likely to be the same as today, we’ll stick to the first option; after all, we’re not Chamonix mountaineers; even if the possibility of climbing remains in mind until the last moment. After the last junction, the choice is definitively made, we swallow the kilometres one after the other at a good pace of 6,4 km per hour while having the opportunity to cross our goat fan club cheering us as we pass.  The hour turns, it’s slowly time to think about finding a better bivouac for the night. We find a good opportunity: a basic campsite -certainly- is located at good distance, which should make us close the day between 8:30pm and 9:00pm. The camp is set up nicely by Thomas, shaker of recovery swallowed by Thibault, position foot up to make go down the lactic acid (well, I believe) and on my side I take care of the meal. For this evening we will have on the menu rice with chicken, soy sauce marinade, fish, ginger and pan-fried small vegetables; onions, garlic, zucchini, eggplants, carrots and mushrooms. After a good shower, a moment of relaxation with chamomile tea and comforting chocolate helps us to think slowly about the next day. We have two options: go north towards the Chrigel Maureroption or continue south-east towards the Maxime Pinot option. No decision for this evening, it will be for tomorrow morning according to the evolution of the weather forecast confronted with the reality… Wake up at 6.15am, the coffeepots are ready, we go to sleep for a few hours, and hope for nice and pretty dreams.

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