Last Wednesday, August 7, French athlete and adventurer Christophe Le Saux set a new record running Powell River’s Sunshine Coast Trail in 28 hours and 56 minutes. The route completed by Le Saux was measured at a distance of 170 kilometres and 7,700 metres of elevation, he said.
“I ran non-stop through the night starting just before seven in the morning at Sarah Point and finished just before noon in Saltery Bay,” said Le Saux.
The previous record was set by Squamish’s Dylan Morgan in 2016 with a time of 31 hours and 55 minutes.
Le Saux is considered an icon in trail running and known for his ability to do back-to-back endurance challenges. He originally attempted the solo run last year, but had to stop at the 139-kilometre mark due to fatigue, extreme hypothermia and an unseasonable lightning storm. This year’s run included two additional variants that made the trail more difficult, he said. He aimed for an even faster time, but got lost a few times.
“Once you start getting overtired your brain reacts differently so you get lost easily,” he said.
A videographer joined Le Saux to film on some sections of the trail, but during the darkness when he travelled between Tin Hat Mountain and Lois Lake, he was on his own.
“Especially with a headlamp at nighttime, everything has a shade and it could look like the face of a cougar or bear,” said Le Saux. “It is also a hallucination.”
The run is part of a larger project Le Saux is undertaking known as Seven Wild Trails, a solo challenge to achieve record times on trails in seven countries and five continents. With last week’s completion of the Sunshine Coast Trail, he has now completed six of the trails including in Iceland, Peru, Nepal, New Zealand and Morocco. He now has one last run to complete at Mont Blanc in the French-Italian Alps. What attracted Le Saux to the Sunshine Coast Trail is the beauty of the area and the extreme remoteness.
“I wanted to do seven wild trails and this one is as wild as can be,” he said.
His partner, ultrarunner Tiffany Saibil, grew up on Vancouver’s North Shore. After completing the solo run, Le Saux and Saibil are leading an international group on a multiday timed stage race of the trail from August 14 to 18.
The couple have organized many adventure races around the world, and this is the second year of bringing a group on the local trail. The race focuses on self-sufficiency as well as community connections, said Saibil.
Locally the group is hosted by Seb Lagors. Originally from France, Lagors and his partner relocated to Powell River from Squamish a few years ago.
“When you think of Canada as a French person, you first think of Quebec because they speak the same language and it’s more accessible in some ways, but British Columbia is more wild and scenic,” said Lagors. “This is an amazing challenge, and I like to help people.”
Being able to set up base camp at Lagors’ place in Wildwood brings something unique to the experience, added Saibil.
“We’ve been racing for years but there’s a different feeling to this,” she added. “It’s friendly competition.”
As part of giving back to the community, on Tuesday, August 13, race participants took part in volunteer maintenance on a section of the trail organized in liaison with the local trail manager and Tla'amin Nation. Locals were encouraged to volunteer and to take part in the run.
“I’d love to have more local participants and involvement,” said Saibil. “I’d love to build on this project.”
For more information, go to lifewithoutacar.com.