We could say that the brand new MARATHON DES SABLES PERU has arrived at just the right time for Julien CHORIER: this 36 year old Savoyard has been wanting to "discover the MDS for a very long time, but its timing, in the spring, was tricky for me in the context of the rest of the season. So I always told myself that I'd do it at a later date... Now there's a MARATHON DES SABLES starting in December, which is perfect!" And it's all the more perfect because it will also allow Julien to discover South America, a continent he's dreamed of exploring for years: "Then there's the South American dimension: a continent I've never experienced but have wanted to visit for a very long time. I've now got the opportunity to kill two birds with one stone: the MDS and South America at the same time!"
Julien, who is married and has two little girls, is a high-level trailer, with notable wins including the Diagonale des Fous on Reunion Island and Hardrock in Colorado (2011). He also works as a building engineer specialising in fire safety, and has recently become a mountain guide. We shudder to think of his schedule...
Although Julien has participated in one previous stage race, he admits that MDS PERU will still be a real début for him when it comes to self-sufficiency: "I've already completed a stage race, the TransAlpine Run, but this doesn't require you to be self-sufficient. You spend your evenings in a hotel and only have to carry a small backpack. I was preparing to participate in a race where we needed a big bag, the Libyan Challenge, but it was cancelled a few days before it was due to take place, for political reasons. I therefore already know what it's like to run with a big bag, but this will be the first time I do so in a race."
The Savoyard is well aware of the fact that he'll be competing against the specialists: "There's a risk that I might be a little behind on the sporting side of things. I don't have the experience of this type of race, nor the environment. So I'm going to do all I can to really make the most of this adventure, and we'll see what happens..." Julien can nevertheless count on some good advice from friends such as Erik CLAVERY, who came fifth in MDS MAROC 2016 and was the first Frenchman home: "Erik and I have made a deal: he's going to the Western States for the first time this year, so I'm going to give him advice on that and, in return, he's going to give me some tips for the MARATHON DES SABLES!"
In any case, Julien is very keen to put a lot into his race preparation, admitting that this motivates him almost as much as running: "Managing the technical parameters, the equipment, food, etc., is almost what motivates me the most." When asked if there's anything he's worried about, he mentions food: "I really need to eat! If I stuck to the minimum requirement of 2,000 calories per day, I think I'd have to eat one of my fellow competitors along the way!" He's not a great fan of sand either, which he compares to snow, which he finds difficult to handle without "sinking in and making big holes". The heat, on the other hand, is not a big concern: after the Western States and UTMB 2016, which was particularly hot, he thinks he'll be able to handle it well.
And what's on his agenda before MDS PERU? "I'll see how my season end pans out. I already have UTMB in late August, and I'll have to see how I recover from that. If all goes well, I plan to run the Grand Raid de La Réunion, otherwise I'll take a break before MDS PERU."
Julien and all the competitors taking part in this first edition have six months left to prepare, and to turn this brewing desire into reality: "I'm really happy to be part of this very first edition. We're going to live a bit like nomadic people for a week, it's going to be nice to be cut off from everything. And on our return we'll appreciate our usual life and home comforts even more..."