And Rousset created the 36 Hours of Corsica


The GR20 is considered one of the toughest trails in Europe. Crossing Corsica from north to south, from Calenzana to Conca, passing by the great ridge of the island, it is generally covered in sixteen days, or 16 stages of five to seven hours of walking depending on the level of the hikers. This is to say the feat accomplished by trail champion Anne-Lise Rousset in mid-June. Only eleven months after giving birth to a baby boy, this rural veterinarian overcame it in 35 hours and 50 minutes, smashing the previous record, set by Émilie Lecomte in 2012, by almost 6 hours, and establishing the sixth performance of history, men and women alike. « Always on (her) little cloud », forty-eight hours later, she explains « having trouble becoming aware » of the feat accomplished when she had, until now, never run more than 100 kilometers , nor even « does the GR20 in its entirety, in one go », she underlines. “I had been praised for its beauty and technicality. This is what led me, in part, to embark on this adventure. “And even if, in the effort, “certain shapes became bizarre, I was really able to take advantage of the landscapes and the panorama”, confides the athlete, laughing. “From north to south, everything is beautiful. But, between the refuges of Manganu and Pietra Pana, above the Restonica valley and the Capitello and Mélo lakes, which we constantly overlook and see, it is absolutely magnificent. We pass from pozzines (peat bogs – editor’s note) to a very alpine setting reminiscent of the Écrins. The light there was incredible. »

Lambert Santelli reveals himself to be just as talkative about the beauty of this crossing, a symbol of the development of the Corsican rural and mountain environment. “Mythical here, for all those who know the mountains, and the others. He swallowed it in 30 hours and 25 minutes. Record for men set last year. A local runner, originally from Balagne, he likes one of the first parts of the route between Ortu di u Piobbu and Carrozzu. With the ascent on imposing granite slabs, scree and scree, the body is put to the test. But many are looking for precisely this difficulty and this technicality which « imply a much slower progression than on a path and a much higher risk of accident ». Explanations by Stéphane Bergzoll, doctor for the French trail team who has supervised several events on the Island of Beauty. Another parameter: the heat, to which we can accustom the organism but which remains a danger when we produce such an intense and long effort.

Attendance: records too

“One of the keys to Anne-Lise’s success was to create an authentic team to support her with, beyond the simple juxtaposition of each other’s skills, a real sharing of knowledge and information. Everyone knew what to protect it and what to do to avoid damage,” he continues, before urging ultra-endurance or hiking enthusiasts to be careful. “This course is not to be taken lightly! he asserts.

In recent years, the GR20 has nevertheless broken attendance records. In 2021, the bar of 100,000 visitors was crossed, a direct consequence of the development of green tourism and the practice of outdoor sports by increasingly large audiences. Some put their name on the record charts, from Pierrot Griscelli and Guy Genovesi (56 hours in 1988) to Pierrot Santucci (36 hours and 53 minutes in 2005), via the phenomenon Kilian Jornet (32 hours and 54 minutes in 2009) . Others die there. In 2015, in particular, a mudslide swept away seven hikers and led to the closure and creation of a route around the Cirque de la Solitude and its vertiginous rock faces. At 21, Thomas Butez, vice-champion of France in trail hope, last May, acted as a pacer for Anne-Lise Rousset. On the Onda-Vizzavona portion, the traditional ninth stage of the journey, he had to take care of her supplies, “offer her food, drink, or pick up her poles when she no longer needed them. To assist him, in short, in everything outside the race”. And the young man to dream out loud. « I’m still a bit young. I don’t have the right training, but later, who knows? That sounds awesome. By walking the path is made.


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