Friday, March 14, 2008

Jean, another ultrafondu, by Vincent

Ultrafondu (latin ultra: exhalted, exagerated - french fondu: melted and fond: long distance running) fem: ultrafondue, pl. ultrafondus (1) n. person passionate about ultra running; (2) adj. crazy about ultra running!

Ultrafondus the monthly magazine of the Francophone ultra running community. Available through subscription or at

Ok, I concede, these definitions do not come from the Harrap's or the Collins, but they are much needed before reading this post.

This week and weekend I am in Paris for business and found two copies of ulrafondus at my parents' where I have my subscription delivered to. Vincent (Toumazou) had given me some heads-up and I was anxious to read the January issue. For the frequent readers of my blog, they will recall the visit of Vincent in the Bay Area last December, our run at Rancho and the nice lunch at home afterwards.Vincent is a contributor to ultrafondus and interviewed me with questions covering many aspects of my running career. Resulting in 5 pages in the printed magazine including pictures the editor selected from my online photo albums and blog posts! Of course it is in French which the francophone readers will appreciate, for once on my blog. The magazine is not online, but you can access the electronic copy I have uploaded on my website (pdf). By the way, the title is a nice play of words from Vincent: Gens d'ultra, Jean de Californie. Gens means people (ultra people) and his homonym of my first name.

ultrafondus is really a top class running magazine. First the presentation is impeccable, professional, colorful, modern. Second, and even more importantly, the content is amazingly rich and captivating. Not only for us, ultrafondus, but also for our family and friends who can share thanks to these articles some of our passion and understand better why we spend hours and days on the trails. Furthermore, it is printed on glossy paper which makes the layout and numerous color pictures standing out and enhancing the text beautifully. It is hard to convey such a high standard of quality through words, you really have to experience it by yourself. To me, with 80+ pages of such quality, it's like getting a new book on ultra each month in the mail. Kudos to the ultrafondus team! How is this relevant to most of you, the non Francophone readers of my blog, especially in the US? Well, it actually is to some extent thanks to connections between the ultrafondus and UltraRunning (UR) magazine teams. Last year Philippe (Billard) and (Tropical) John (Medinger) have met in France, exchanged ideas and engaged into a collaboration to establish links between the American and European/Francophone ultra communities. For instance, once a month, ultrafondus now include a translated article from the last issue of UR. I have to think that ultrafondus influence the UR team to move to the color cover last year, something which received a lot of positive from the UR readers on the ultralist forum. By the way, I am also an avid reader of UR, and contributor too (the next issue should include a write-up on the Coastal Challenge). I am also a subscriber to other magazines (Runner's World, Trail Running, California Track & Running News), plus reader of books, and DVDs... Yes, definitely, I am an ultrafondu...! Maybe yet, an ultranut...

I met Philippe for our inaugural "French fat ass 50K" in Rouen in January. Philippe is the Editor-in-Chief of ultrafondus. His passion has always been journalism but his parents pushed him to get in IT (Information Technology) for a safer career. In College he majored in IT and, after a few years in application development, made the jump into IT journalism, working for the major French publication, 01 Informatique, after getting back to school to study journalism. Later, he discovered running which he added to his range of passions. Naturally, he made another career move, leaving the IT world to specialize in ultra running journalism. Took a stake into the small ultrafondus corporation and that became his full time job. It is nice to see passions being combined this way! Similarly to what Sarah and Wendel accomplish with their Pacific Coast Trail Run (PCTR) venture in California, surfing today's ultra wave!

Here we are, with Rouen in the background, in very good ultrafondus company: Annick (Le Moignic) in charge of proof-reading the magazine before publication, Philippe, Stéphane (Couleaud), another ultrafondu, and I:
As a serious ultrafondu, I went for a run this weekend. It was a special and packed weekend with the last 3 games of the annual 6 nations rugby championship (Italy-Scotland at 2pm, England-Ireland at 4pm and the much expected Wales-France at 6pm). I left my parents' at 9:30 in the morning, initially for a run of at least a marathon, starting with La Coulée Verte (see my review of this great run along the TGV line). By mile 13 I was feeling good so I took the road toward Palaiseau. Stopped by the very nice church of Vauhallan with a crypt from the 5th century, Clovis time (the King of the Franks at the origin of the Gaul reunion), which is really prehistory for us living in the US... I kept going on to Saclay, along the National Center for Nuclear Research to end up in Gif-sur-Yvette 20 miles from my parents'. I stopped twice a bars to get my bottle refilled (with water, not beer!), yet missed electrolytes for this long (long) run. 40.4 miles in 5h22, I had enough exercise to enjoy three rugby games on TV! By the way, that is my third longest training run since I have been running.

Unfortunately that afternoon, the Wales-France fight turned to the Wales' advantage. There was a lot of expectations from both sides. Wales had to win this last game to complete a grand slam (5 victories). France had to win the game by more than 22 points to place first of this year championship. To simply win to place 2nd and, because England had just won over Ireland by more than 22 points, would finish 3rd of the championship if losing this game. Which is the scenario which finally happened...

In the evening and late in the night we did celebrate my older brother's 50th, despite this disappointing news on the rugby side. Thierry is a fan of rugby and played for many years, first in our hometown club of Tours in 2nd division, and later with his school, Sciences Po (for Institut des Sciences Politiques, a top grade management and administation school in Paris). Last month he received the prestigious Hintze award from IFACI, the French association for internal audit he belongs to. Much to celebrate with family and friends!
Here are some French-flavored notes from abroad. Back to the Californian trails next week.

Plus loin, plus vite!


Anonymous said...

Hola Jean,

Ravi du résultat de l'interview dans le Magazine, je tiens à te remercier de tout cela encore une fois.
Je repense souvent à ta conception de l'entrainement et de l'Ultra et je dois dire que cela me booste et m'influence pas mal.

J'ai hate d'avoir l'occasion de t'interviewer à l'occasion de ta participation à un de nos 100 bornes (Belvès, Millau ?). Chiche ?

Très amicalement,


Anonymous said...

Tres sympa ton blog, Jean, et il devrait ravir famille et amis francais qui rechignent un peu a l'anglais. Reviens vite!


Anonymous said...

Très interessant à divers points de vue...nous irons, j'espère, visiter (en voiture!) l'Eglise de Vauhallan.


Anonymous said...

Salut Jean!

Je constate que tu es toujours aussi mordu et je ne puis qu'être admirative : je me demande souvent comment tu arrives à concilier toutes ces facettes de ta vie (et cela vaut d'ailleurs pour la plupart des membres de la famille Pommier!). Alors, nous te souhaitons d'aller toujours plus loin, plus vite et nous t'embrassons bien amicalement.
Paloma/Olivier & kids (Valais)

Dave - Atlanta Trails said...

I love how you serve as an ambassador (connector?) between the French and American ultra-communities. Good stuff!

Jean Pommier said...


You are right, it's really cool to connect these two large communities which remain separated by so many miles (or kilometers... units being still a big difference between these two worlds... ;-).

Hope you can visit sometimes (France, I mean, although you are welcome in California too!).


Anonymous said...

j'ai lu ton interview dans ufo mag ..
très bel article vais tâcher de venir plus souvent ici et en plus ça fera du bien à mon pauvre anglais ....

Anonymous said...

très intéressant ton blog, nous qui sommes certes sportifs, mais complètement néophytes en matière de course à pied, nous découvrons le côté technique mais surtout le coté mental et puis la passion partagée en famille , c'est important. et les paysages sont pas mal non plus alors sache que nous essayons de te suivre ...via ton blog
merci pour ces voyages
Sylvie / Hervé / Thomas et Robin (fère-Champenoise)

Pierre-Yves said...

Great article Jean, I only have one problem: My wife feels I am already spending too much time running and yesterday I spent the evening reading your captivating blog :-). It was nice to discover the Ultrafondus magazine. As a French living in the US, it makes me want to run an ultra back home!

Jean Pommier said...

Salut les basketteurs Champenois!

Merci de vous intéresser à ce sport, faire un tour sur mon blog et laisser un commentaire.

Et Agnès d'ajouter: "Super sympas mes copains de...30 ans!"

30 ans, déjà...!! ;-)