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Odile Hochard (D191-FRA) AND Sylvain Stein (D72-FRA)

THE SENSE OF THE DESERT

Odile Hochard cannot see the desert. She can feel it, she can inhale it, she can imagine it. And that’s been going on for some four editions already. “The first time it was to celebrate my 50th birthday some seven years ago,” says the blind runner from Thionville, who began running 13 years ago. “I had a fair few problems with my feet and I said I’d never do it again. Four years later though, I wanted to come back and have a more serene experience of it, preparing myself better. The desert is a bit like an addiction you know, once you’ve got the bug, you can’t stop thinking about it.” Alongside her, her travelling companion Sylvain Stein smiles. A little of this is down to him why Odile is still there today. “Sylvain has guided me on two occasions in the Marathon des Sables in 2010 and 2011 and we regularly train together. I’m lucky to be here and have her with me.” In the desert, they make headway together hand in hand, each listening out for the other. “Sylvain describes the landscape to me, tells me how high the dunes are and what colour they are… that enhances my sensation of things”, Odile smiles, still surprised that her team mate is continuing on his way with her. “Perhaps it’s an extra challenge for me, but it also enables me to feel more useful”, Sylvain says, having already participated in the Marathon des Sabes on his own before meeting Odile. “Today, our common objective is to show others that even with a handicap you can run the Marathon des Sables.”

D191