This year, the trail running paths are still being well trodden by mountain runners. One in particular, Yoann Stuck, knows the area by heart since he has been running all over the La Plagne area for the past few years. He has stopped for a moment to answer our questions.
What was your first experience of trail running in La Plagne and what do you remember about it?
We started coming to La Plagne the first time I ran the 6000D, in 2013. We came the week before the race to discover the resort and get to know the course. We had such a great time that I almost forget what the main goal was and did a pretty difficult via ferrata the day before the race.
Since then, we have come back every summer and sometimes in the inter-season or in the winter…
I suppose that you know all the trail itineraries now… do you have a favourite and, if so, why?
My favourite is definitely Mont Saint Jacques, even though it’s a short run and only takes me 15 minutes to climb. But the view from up there, running up by the avalanche barriers, the blueberry bushes… I never tire of going up there, on my own or with a group of runners or the family. Even my daughter has known what it is called and where it is for a long time now.
Do you prefer running in the pastures or the forest?
I really prefer the high-altitude trails and I am still discovering new ones, right up towards the ridges, as I am going out for longer and longer runs. Generally speaking, I don’t like terrain that is too technical, but I’m working on that gradually.
Do you have a special selfie spot at the top?
That would be Mont Saint Jacques again ;)
Mind you, this year I have been running more of the ridges and all the ridges round here are good selfie spots.
We’ve seen you break away several times on the 6000D’s Vertical Kilometre: what is your secret?
I love climbing, I find it easier than running down. La Plagne’s vertical kilometre is actually quite “rolling” with its 1000m elevation gain over 5 km. Getting to the top of the Grande Rochette with the atmosphere there is always pretty cool as well.
Do you have a pre-race ritual?
Not really, except for breakfast that always has to be the same. I also have a lucky charm that is always in my backpack: a tiny silver box with 3 angels inside, which represents my family.
What advice would you give to someone who is starting out as a trail runner staying in La Plagne?
To make the most of it! There are lots of marked trails that allow you to discover the whole resort; some are short, some are longer, leaving from each village, you can always find a trail and you never get lost. The different 6000D races are also very varied, from the 11 km-long 6Découverte to the 6000D itself that covers 60 km. Between the two, there is the KV, the 6D Lacs, the 6000D relay and soon the marathon… there is something for everyone, even for kids.
Aside from the race, there is lots to do with your family. Even if there are family members who are less sporty or if you have little children, it is a family-friendly resort with activities for everyone.
Your atypical path makes you living proof that anyone can enjoy trail running…a word on that?
That’s what I like to highlight on the social networks; when you spend your time sitting on the sofa, everything can seem difficult, overwhelming. If I had listened to myself too much, I would certainly weigh over 100kg and would have missed out on all this. All I was expecting at the beginning was to be able to stop smoking without gaining 20 kilos; by enjoying myself, working hard and taking it gradually. I am lucky enough to be able to run often and for a long time, to keep discovering new things, to travel and to share that with my friends and family and with all my followers on social media. I am really happy to see that some of them are following the same principle thanks to my experience and breaking through the barriers they had put up for themselves.
You travel the world with your running, what brings you back to La Plagne?
Well, in fact, since March things have been very quiet :) and that has also done me good, although I must admit that I miss travelling. La Plagne is a little bit like home now; it is one of the places we love and we always feel comfortable here. We find it invigorating and it’s my favourite training ground because, where I live, there aren’t really any mountains!