The Ultra Boucle de la Sarra kicks off tomorrow night and – as I announced in the wake of the Saint Fons 12 Hour race – this is definitely not a race in which I am looking to go for the win. That said, neither do I want to to lollygag the whole twenty-four hours, either, especially as I am using this as a test to see whether I can successfully continue (a) moving for 24 hours at a time, and (b) deal with the sleep deprivation of a day-long ultra. Both of these are skills that I’ll need to manage the Ultratour du Leman in September.

There are, though, nearly 70 other people who will be starting the Ultra Boucle de la Sarra tomorrow night along with me and, among them, are some real class acts. I’ve dug into DUV statistics a little and Googled up some results, too, and I’m looking forward to running a few laps with people who not only are far better athletes than me but who also seem ready and able to throw down some pretty fantastic performances at the race this weekend.

Toeing the line will be (in alphabetical order):

  • Jerome Adam – multiple Saintelyon finishes to his name
  • Nicolas Adelhanoff – he ran the UBS 6 Hour last year and finished not too far behind me
  • Christophe Anselmo – all class, one of the favorites
  • Jacky Bailly – a veteran, first time at the UBS this year
  • Jacky Bayle – another veteran and first timer on the UBS course
  • Eric Bello – some serious ultra chops and a multiple UTMB finisher
  • Frederic Bettini – raced against me at Saint Fons this year
  • Romain Bocquel – ran the UBS 6 hour last year finishing just three places behind me
  • David Bonnefond – a couple of ultras to his name, including the Ecotrail in Paris
  • Damien Briotet – multiple Saintelyon finishes since 2012
  • Thierry Bucilliat – experienced trail runner with a bunch of ultra finishes
  • Benjamin Chateauneuf – longtime ultrarunner with a bunch of impressive performances
  • Nicolas Chiabaut – trail runner with multiple Saintelyon finishes to his name
  • Alexis Comte – young ultrarunner with a couple of speedy performances on trails
  • Pascal Cruvellier – has run 24 hours before at Albi, though the UBS course is a different beast
  • Anthony Cuiller – ran the UBS 6 Hour last year and was only a few laps behind me
  • Jerome Dorio – trail runner with a few ultras to his name
  • Laurent D’Addario – serious trail runner with multiple UTMB finishes
  • Xavier Despringe – seriously experienced ultra trail runner
  • Francoise Despringe – has racked up a number of ultra age group wins in her division
  • Timothee Desreumaux – solid history of 24 hour and 100K races
  • Laurent Devambez – speedy trail and ultra runner with some good age group performances
  • Christophe Diedrich – very strong age group ultra runner with a long history of turning it on
  • Loic Ducrest – not a lot to go on but has a Saintelyon finish to his name
  • Aurelien Duret – a local trail runner with multiple Saintelyon finishes
  • Eric Delavelle – ran the UBS 6 Hour with me last year and was right on my tail
  • Pascal Esparvier – strong performances at UBS and at Saint Fons in the past
  • Samuel Estupino – lots of experience in times ultras in France and elsewhere
  • Jeremy Falconnier – finished a couple of places ahead of me at the UBS 6 Hour last year
  • Ali Fettah – local trail runner with multiple Marathon des Sables finishes
  • Laurent Florit – local trail runner but this looks like his first ultra test
  • Dominique Gueret – long history of ultras including a couple of years at UBS
  • Etienne Jouvin – very strong age group ultra runner, one to watch
  • Dylan Kissane – hey, that’s me!
  • Emilie Law-lin – trail runner but perhaps this is her first ultra
  • Christian Lefevre – local trail runner with a couple of Saintelyon finishes
  • Yannick Legay – very strong 24 hour ultrarunner and one to watch this year, for sure
  • Mathieu Hiltenbrand – been a while since he raced 24 hours but I’m sure he knows how to get it done
  • Fabien Mezard – very solid ultrarunner with a lot of experience on hilly trails
  • Mathieu Montagne – has some strong trail ultras to his name including a 145K trail last year
  • Serge Mortz – listed as French but looks to be from the north or perhaps even Germany judging by races
  • Sebastien Mulot – steady trail runner, lots of finishes to his credit over the last few years
  • Camille Neumann – very speedy lady, some very high age group placings on trails
  • Benjamin Neveu – some solid performances on trails and multiple Saintelyon finishes
  • Sylvain Nguyen – ran the Saint Fons 24 Hour last year, and I follow him on Twitter!
  • Luca Papi – very experienced and damn fast Italian ultrarunner, another one to watch
  • Valentin Piard – very speedy distance runner, though this looks like the first step up to ultras
  • Jean-Michel Pion – super experienced 24 hour runner and ultrarunner more generally
  • Lionel Planes – multiple UTMB finishes and a long history of ultrarunning
  • Joelle Pontus – picked up second place in the Saint Fons 24 Hour race a few weeks back
  • Gilles Revol – history of strong performances at the Saint Fons 24 Hour race and the Saintelyon
  • Jean-Baptiste Richer – finished within a couple of minutes of me at the Saintelyon last year
  • Urbain Rochat – Team Raidlight member and some very speedy trail times
  • Paul-Henri Romestin – has run the UBS 6 Hour before as well as some mountainous trails
  • Frederic Rosello – not a long ultra history but what he lacks in depth he makes up for in speed
  • Baptiste Roussiere – looks to be his first step up in ultras but he has a trail pedigree
  • Mathieu Sense – ran the UBS 6 Hour race last year with me, finished just on my heels
  • Pierrot Stropoli – multiple Saintelyon finishes for this veteran ultrarunner
  • Fabien Trohay – a top ten finish at the UBS 6 Hour last year, now he’s back for more
  • Luc Valzer – two-time finisher of the Ultratour du Leman, someone to chat to for sure
  • Lionel Vitry – young ultrarunner but with a nice list of ultra trail races to his name
  • Hubert Vivant – strong age group ultrarunner – and it’s my age group!
  • Martine Volay – super-experienced ultrarunner with a string of age group wins to her name
  • Jerome Vuillemot – local trail runner with multiple Saintelyon finishes since 2010
  • Mathieu Wojcik – listed as a Polish ultrarunner but has a couple of strong French races in his resume

ultra-boucle-de-la-sarraAs I mentioned, there’s some serious class in this field and while the women’s race looks to be a little light-on for runners, the men’s race should be a doozy. I don’t think I can tip any particular runner as a favorite right now as the course is not really conducive to conclusions like that. What’s more, it’s not clear that the strong trail running background of many of the runners will transfer to the mixed-terrain and staircase-centric loop of the Ultra Boucle. Still, Christophe Anselmo, Luca Papi, and Etienne Jouvin should all be up there at the finish.

And as for me?

Well if I even manage to make the top half of a race like this it’ll be a bonus. As I’ve said here in this post and elsewhere, though, the race is not about the place I finish but the experience I pick up and the ultrarunning skills I want to develop and test ahead of the Ultratour du Leman in a couple of months time. If I manage to keep moving and stay awake, that’s a win in my books!

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