At the beginning of the school year, Antoine Biard, physical trainer, sports coach and emeritus ultra trailer, opens the first trail school with the label of an association in Ariège, in Foix. A new activity for 6-18 year olds.
At the beginning of the school year, the county town will host the department’s first certified trail running school. Behind this unprecedented project, a well-known sportsman in the land of Olmes: Antoine Biard. Originally from Léran, the physical trainer and sports coach, also a seasoned ultra trailer, has just moved to Foix. And it is here that he decided to embark on this new adventure.
A graduate of a Staps license, obtained in Font-Romeu, and an alpine ski instructor, the athlete has always wanted to convey his passion, which has now become his profession. Already involved in Foix with the running club Philippides, he also offers “sports/health” support at home to different target groups in the department. “This can be for athletes of more or less high level as well as for the elderly with a loss of autonomy,” he explains.
As much experience as he wants to put at the service of this new section today, which will join the network of existing trail schools. First founded in 2018 in Millau, it now has 16 other sections across France. To join this network, Antoine Biard, along with other mountain guides and trained staff, has created a support association. In order to be labeled, it must meet the set specifications.
Sport, but also discovery and above all fun
Far from preconceived notions about the discipline, a real endurance sport, the primary vocation of the trail school is to appeal to young people between 6 and 18 years of age to introduce them in a playful way to this sport practice in a natural environment. “The concept of fun is very important, the idea is actually to introduce this discipline through games and different workshops,” continues Antoine Biard. In addition to the physical aspect, the goal is also to be aware of the environment around us, to be more learn about the fauna and flora in the mountains, for example there will be occasional trips with mountain guides or other experts.”
Once or twice a week, outside school holidays, the children meet qualified educators according to their age group. Running technique, learning how to step uphill and downhill, regulation of pace and effort, awareness of proper hydration and nutrition… all covered.
To do this, Antoine Biard has already identified sites that could be the scene of these sessions: the Bouychères Park, the terraces of Pech, Montgailhard, Prayols, etc. “By establishing the school in Foix, you are both in the center of the department as well as at the same time close to these mountain areas or interesting natural environments.”
The ultra-trailer, strong in its network, has already found interested parties. Pre-registration is already open for children and teenagers who want to be seduced.
He is preparing the Tor des Géants, a 330 km race through four mountains
In addition to his passion for transmission, Antoine Biard is also a relentless ultratrailer. The one who has already completed the UTMB (Ultra Trail du Mont-Blanc) and the Diagonale des fous in Réunion in 2019, a few weeks apart, has decided this year to give himself a whole new challenge. That of participating, “and finishing”, the Tor des Géants. This race, which will take place on September 11 in Italy, has a course of… 330 km and an altitude difference of 24,000 meters. Only that! “It’s double the mileage I’ve competed in so far,” admits the trail runner. In full preparation for what is a real sporting achievement, Antoine Biard makes many trips in the mountains and by bike. “There is the physical aspect, but also and especially the mental aspect. That will make the difference in this race.” That, but also controlling fatigue and sleep. Because if the match is won in 68 hours, the maximum time is 150 hours. That’s about six days.