The letter he wrote during his flight back to France
If somebody had told me that I was going to take part in such a wonderful human and sporting experience; if somebody had warned me that I was going to be transported by such emotions in the Upper Atlas, I wouldn’t have waited for the 8th edition of the UTAT to leave behind my pastures in the Bauges for a few days. I chose to live this African adventure in a spirit of discovery, sharing and contemplation. So I took the time necessary (almost 30 hours) to complete the course of this incredible Ultra Trail Atlas Toubkal without missing a single crumb. Here in disorder are some images that I took back to Annecy in the plane : Breathtaking scenery, lost valleys, stretches of rock, soil of deep ochre, sunrise and sunset on mysterious mountain passes, improbably highly perched villages, cascading terraces cultivated in areas just inaccessible, troglodyte barns only noticeable when at hands reach, magnificent singletracks between flora and mineral, a majestic Berber woman on the back of her mule on narrow paths, this proud woman with a pile of hay for a headdress whom Dirk (finisher of 105km) and I met on an aerial path (see photo), mint tea, dates, a quarter of a round bread and a mouthful of rice with oil offered to me by village people as I passed on my way, families gathering walnuts, innumerable steep alleyways
crossed by strange looking hens, enormous herds of goats speckling the rock faces, unforgettable encounters with friendly Moroccans, little complicit swaps, a lemon chicken tajine shared with Stephane (finisher of 105km) the eve of the race, a good discussion with courageous Ian who will come back from Australia in 2017 to finish the course, Moroccan pancakes eaten at the last breakfast with Gaelle (finisher of 26km), the organisers (Cyrille, Virginie ..) whose power of conviction is only equaled by their tenacity, the welcome in lilting accent of Mireille and her daughter, the supermotivated volunteers who paid for their own flights to flood us with their unrestrained and comforting good humour, the skilled medical staff who were everpresent even in extreme conditions, horizontal human relations with extraordinary personalities (Eduard Jornet father of the extraterrestrial, Christophe Le Saux insatiable untratrailer globe trotter and Omar Bourhim who walked 80km to come and do the UTAT), the picturesque couscous evening animated by an attentive team of Moroccans. Some figures : Five unforgettable days, three nights in a tent with Roberto
(marathon finisher) and 2600m altitude among the ewes and the morning frosts, a good dose of worries vanished, twelve beautiful hours trotting along in a night so deep that stars invisible elsewhere were revealed, fourteen PC – bivouacs which were hard to reach and one of them perched at 3303m on the summit slopes of Toubkal, dozens of moving looks, showers of affectionate “Bonjour! Ça va?”, hundreds of shared smiles, 105km of pure nature, 6500 metres of uphill climbs, an altitude of 3676m reached in dead of night in an icy wind, 2000m of descent in one go with a verve comparable with the descent of the Fenêtre d’Arpette (variant of the TMB), millions of micrograms of adrenaline, dopamine, endorphins and serotonin secreted… So, if you too want to live an incredible human adventure ; want, for once, to do an ultra heads up and leaving your chronometer behind; if you aspire to get into osmosis with the Atlas mountains, their scenery, their inhabitants, their magic energy, then don’t hesitate and offer yourself the joy of the UTAT 2017. But take care to warn your near and dear ones that you will never again be quite the same on leaving Oukaimeden!
François Duforest, finisher du 105k
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