In 2015, Julien was forced to abandon his lead and the race at Fouly pass due to an injury. He returned to the course this year with a vengeance, besting nearly 2,300 participants on August 26.
Rested, relaxed and well prepared, Julien soared over 170 kilometers in just over eighteen hours, wearing a sweaty bib number 30. He took the lead quickly, advancing to fifth place in St. Gervais after just two hours.
Things changed near Voze, when Julien fell from the path while rehydrating. He would later learn he had sprained two fingers and fractured a rib. “I do not assess my injuries during the run,” says Julien. “I just knew I had a bit of trouble taking deep breathes. The rib bothered me after Courmayeur, and when I choked while refueling it was impossible to cough.”
After more than five hours and 50 kilometers of running, Julien returned to Chapieux in second place, feeling strong both physically and mentally.
He guarded this spot alongside Fabien Antolinos until the Fouly (110Km; 14 hours), only a short distance behind Zach Miller.
In the heat of the afternoon, Julien and Fabien found Zach at Champex, with Gediminas Grinius not far behind. Julien was off again, this time just in front of Zach. He was feeling strong and flew to Col Bovine.
Unfortunately, the excitement was short lived. With the rising heat and a dwindling food supply, Julien did not rally in Chamonix as he had hoped. The final leg of the race took a different turn.
While Zach Miller, Ludovic Pommeret and Gediminas Grinius set the pace, Julien slowed a bit and dropped to fourth place. Struggling with hypoglycemia, Julien still managed to arrive at the Col Des Montets in sixth place, smiling and determined to finish the race despite aggravated wrist and ribs.
In a race that does not always go his way, Julien crossed the finish line of the UTMB for the fourth time with relief. Despite finishing in eighth place at 23 hours (one hour longer than his UTMB personal best) and although his pain prevented him from fighting harder at the finish, Julien still referred to entering Chamonix as “magical and moving.”
Now, the time has come to analyze the mistakes and points of progress, while also recovering from his two wounds.
“Even though my result is disappointing and frustrating, this race still helped me to make my return to trail running, and I still finished in the top ten,” says Julien. “After a few days of rest, I am going to reflect on the conclusion of this season and prepare for the season to come!”
“All my congratulations go to the winners, Chaverot Caroline and Ludovic Pommeret, who each made a great run,” continues Julien, “and I am proud to play a role in their victory as captain of team Hoka!”
Crédits photos : Peignée Verticale, Compressport, Hoka, Xtof, ski&run, Prozis
La course :
- Chaussures, short, tshirt, casquette : Hoka OneOne : Speedinstinct et Challenger ATR 2
- Chaussettes et compression : Compressport : ultralight, R2swiss, UW
- Sac : Hoka OneOne : F-LIGHT 7L
- Montre : Garmin : Epix et Fenix 3
- Lunettes : Julbo : Aero
- Alimentation : Effinov Hydraminov, digestipain, aminov, pomme/amande et en compléments : Sol Semilla : fèves de cacao et klamath
- Lampe frontale : Ferei HL40