A real success. This Saturday morning, there will be nearly 14,500 people participating in the 2024 edition of EcoTrail Paris. They will be divided into different events, all planned in the West of Ile-de-France: the 10 km trail, the 18 km trail, the 30 km trail, the 45 km trail, the 80 km trail as well as 10 km Nordic walking and Nordic walking. 18km. There is therefore something for everyone, from the most experienced practitioners to novices and the curious. It must be said that the organization, which embarked on this adventure in 2008, seeks to reach “as many people as possible”. “It is for this reason, in particular, that we created a 10 km trail in 2020, with a first edition in 2021. It was to rejuvenate the population and to allow the youngest to discover trail running,” explains to Le Figaro Alexandre Lucas, the communications and registrations manager. A rather successful bet since the average age of those registered is 39 years old and the proportion of women continues to increase year after year.

In itself, this is not very surprising. Trail running has become widely popular in recent years. And even more so since the post-health crisis period, during which many athletes felt the need to move away from the asphalt and run in nature. “Covid-19 has made runners evolve. They need more nature, less road, even if road running still works well. This is why trail running is booming in France,” says Alexandre Lucas. This attraction for this “new” practice is particularly palpable among urban and peri-urban populations. “We realize this because we are mainly targeting Ile-de-France residents. Our race interests them because they want to discover their territory. Because many do not imagine that in the west of the Ile-de-France region, there are all these forests, all this nature which is at the gates of Paris,” explains the communication and registration manager of the EcoTrail.

The fact of evolving in a natural environment is (in particular) what pushed David Grobelny (28 years old) to start trail running. A runner since the age of 18-19, the Montpellier native has been a fan of the discipline for six years. “Trail running is a real passion, in terms of contact with nature. We are on paths, we are not on asphalt. And this reconnection with nature is what is beautiful. In any case, it stimulates me enormously. Many trail runners manage to reconnect with nature thanks to trail running,” says Le Figaro, the man who is taking part in the EcoTrail for the first time this Saturday (on the 45 km event) after having competed in the Barcelona marathon on the weekend. last last.

More than a (simple) sporting event, the EcoTrail is also a fantastic way to raise awareness of eco-responsibility. It’s also perceptible…in its name. For more than fifteen years, the organization has implemented a number of actions to limit its impact on the environment as much as possible. She banned plastic bottles, pushing participants to use an “ecocup”. She also tries to offer products that are either organic, local or seasonal (if not all three!) at the refreshments. This is also why she no longer offers bananas to runners. “We know that they are attached to it but we offer them other things that are just as good for them,” says Alexandre Lucas. The organizers also try to connect to drinking water “where it is possible to do so”.

But the most notable initiative remains the elimination of the traditional “finisher” t-shirt. “Historically, it was customary to give participants a t-shirt before or after the race. We did it for years. But we wondered if it made sense to give everyone a t-shirt. We know very well where these t-shirts came from and the ecological impact they could have…” says the race’s communications and registration manager. Before summarizing the state of mind that drives the organization: “We also want to test things so that other organizers can ask questions and implement actions on their events. In short, the objective is to get the different stakeholders to think and take action.” All this, without having “punitive” communication.

This strategy is (visibly) effective since the notion of eco-responsibility is finding more and more resonance with runners. “It’s the state of mind, it’s the very DNA of trail running. It’s adaptation to one’s environment, it’s respecting nature. Of course, it’s a race. It has an impact on the environment, we walk on trails, we run. Obviously, we leave a mark. But if we can leave it as sober as possible…It’s really this state of mind of trail running that I share with the runners I meet,” explains to Le Figaro David Grobelny who seeks to raise awareness of environmental issues through his eco- adventures but also with his Ploggathon association.

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Reflection on eco-responsibility has grown to such an extent in recent years that some people, although accustomed to monitoring their sporting performance, are becoming less and less interested in it. Like David Grobelny: “The sporting aspect is taking a back seat, whereas before it was the main objective,” he assures. I want to have fun because we will be in nature. I want to enjoy this atmosphere, plus leaving the Château de Versailles and arriving at the Eiffel Tower, it’s going to be magnificent! I want to have fun above all. I want to show that we can perform well and adapt our sporting practice to protect the environment.” This Saturday, those who favor soft mobility as much as possible – such as the train and the bicycle – will have the opportunity to prove it once again.