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Christophe Pinna AND Samuel Etienne (D269 AND D29-FRA)

TWO OF THE ‘PEOPLE’ IN THE RACE

The French have obviously already heard their names on the television. The first was a coach on a programme called Star Academy after winning six world champion titles in karate, the second presents the news on France 3 every evening. A far cry from the TV, Christophe Pinna and Samuel Etienne are also great amateur sportsmen and they are passionate, seasoned runners. The Marathon des Sables? They’d both heard of it a few years ago. “But I’d never have imagined running it one day. Personally, I believed it was something for madmen”, Christophe Pinna explains, who finally changed his mind at the age of 46, because he wanted to “experience something powerful”, after many years as a top-level athlete, “a human adventure midway between physical exertion and a spiritual retreat.” For Samuel Etienne, 42, it was above all a chance to combine “two things that I particularly like in my life: running and Morocco”, the TV presenter admits. He is also running to raise money for “heart surgery sponsorship”, an association which is operating on children affected by heart defects in disadvantaged countries. The two stars of the bivouac have no regrets about their decision. “I find it a lot harder and a lot more beautiful than I could have imagined”, admitted Samuel Etienne at the end of the first leg. “You often look down at where your feet are when you’re running, which is pretty testing, but as soon as you lift your gaze and look around you a bit, it’s fabulous. Every little effort is rewarded a thousand times over.” It is certainly something to give them energy until the end of their challenge.

D29-D269