We could just have shared a question and answer session with Hervé. His simple and warm way of talking about the trail would have been enough to attract some new followers, for sure.
In the next few weeks, this loyal member of the Roadsign Continental Challenge may become the first Frenchman to finish all our races. But he also has a very personal approach to ultra-marathon that deserved some pen work…
Living in a land of milk and honey
Hervé runs daily between the Garrigues and famous Dentelles de Montmirail. Native from the Paris region, he has been living in the south for 30 years and designates Vaucluse as the “idyllic department for trail”. This stunning scenery that seduces everyone passing is also the scene of his private and professional life. He smiles when evoking his stoned village between Lubéron and Ventoux and the pleasure he finds in tending his olive trees, producing his oil or cultivating tomatoes and other treasures filled with the Provencal sun. It is a luck that he does not forget while mentioning his companion.
“If I can achieve my passion for the ultra, it is also thanks to my partner Catherine… She allows me to train when the urge is there, without stress. The weather is nice, I want to go out and hop! Here I am in nature… She encourages me and does some outings with me”. It must be said that she created and runs the communication agency specializing in wines and spirits where Hervé also works, in this village close to Avignon and the vineyards of Gigondas.
Feeling a hint of envy, of jealousy? As you read the rest, you will understand how and why Hervé knew how to make a place in such an environment.
Running, a story of “Family”
Designer and creative director, Hervé has always loved sport and nature. If he took a first step by leaving the Paris region for the south of France, it was a family-like combination of circumstances that led him to the marathon. At almost 40 years old, he ran his first 50km trail thanks to his sister Francine and his two Brothers-In-Law, Bruno and Mario.
“Something unimaginable but with the conviction of my BILS, I signed up. And there, I was stung at the trail.” Two years later, he tries the Desert Cup in Jordan, always with his family. He does not finish the race but learns a lot. “Starting with a failure didn’t demoralize me, quite the contrary since it was my unique give up on an ultra”.
Since then, Hervé has constantly used his soles on the tracks of Egypt, Cambodia, India and the Roadsign Continental Challenge races. He considers that running in unknown land with so different people, languages, landscapes and climates is a real plus.
…that changes a life.
Had he lived in antiquity, Hervé would probably have made a career as a hedonistic philosopher. This vision of the world consists in knowing how to appreciate simple pleasures such as nature, cuisine, friendship, physical exercise, arts, learning, without leaving place to violence or conflict. But there is no hedonism without discipline, knowledge of oneself, of the world and of others. That is what we find when he talks about what the ultra-marathon does for him.
“Running changes your sight at things, life and people. We live in a world without a time or values scale. You go from one extreme to the other without thinking”.
He adds that these long runs plunge you into immediacy, into feeling.
“You perceive the true value of things because you are concerned, facing yourself. Running in Vietnam or Bolivia fills you with intense joy because you are passing through but in a human dimension, in a simple rhythm, without pressure, just for the pleasure of being there”.
Hervé evokes the peace that the race brings him, both personally and professionally.
“Before, the slightest obstacle, the slightest delay, the slightest contradiction put me in a state of anger! Now, every day has a start line, a finish line. Every morning, I am proud to leave and every night, happy to have passed the stage. My perception of my body has changed too. I discovered it, I listen to it, I learn from it so that together we are always in osmosis”.
See you in the Outback
We don’t want to pressure him, but let’s face it we’ll be thrilled when Hervé crosses the finish line of THE TRACK. It’s okay to be a little chauvinistic, right? But he doesn’t seem to surrender to the pressure either.
“I don’t fear this race. For me, it is a freedom to run and a privilege to be able to accomplish such a journey.” Joining again the Canal Aventure team motivates him «It is part of my joy in the ultra, to be with my friends again and to meet new riders coming from so different horizons”.
Hervé does not stress for his preparation. He trains serenely, trusts his body but does not allow himself any error margin in the material preparation.
“Meals, the bare necessities, organize, store, leave nothing to chance… nothing more annoying than desperately looking for a lighter or a dry t-shirt after 7 hours of running”.
He did not think to do all the races but admits:
“the adventures are so beautiful, warm, moving that, yes indeed I will be the first Frenchman to have done everything. No matter where I sit in the rankings, my only condition is to finish (even doubled over in pain…).” He does not define himself as a champion or even as an elite athlete. “I feel a strength that carries me and makes me love life, meetings. I will travel miles to see that.”