The FUNtastic Four Interview Series by Runtastic

Week 1: “The longest race in the World!”

Name: Christophe Vissant
Location: France
Profession: Ultra-Runner

Christophe Vissant

Runtastic: Hi Christophe, great to have you here for the first interview of our new “The FUNtastic Four” blog interview series. Let’s get straight into it. Can you please tell us what unbelievable project you’re currently working on?
Christophe: A lifetime challenge! After running over 1,100 km from Aubagne (South of France) to Paris in 2008, without a day off and at a rate of 75 km per day; after running over 2,700 km from Aubagne to Athens in 2010, without a day off at the same rate; after a total of more than 56,000 km in 10 years, I have a new challenge. Running from the Vélodrome Stadium in Marseille, France to Cairns, Australia via Sydney. It’s 28,000 km, and at 75 km per day, it will take 377 days without a day off.

Three world records will be broken, including the longest run in the world without a day off. In addition to the world records, I hope to alert the general public about the imminent disappearance of the Great Barrier Reef in Australia.This is not only a sport adventure, but also a human and ecological one. I’m very sensitive to sustainable development and humanitarian work, and I’ll live this passion during my run – km after km, step after step.

Runtastic: When we came up with our idea “Cheer me to Sydney” we never thought that there would be anyone out there who would seriously run around the globe! Can you tell us how you came up with such a crazy idea?
Christophe: A crazy idea? No way! A dream. A kid’s dream to discover Australia and the Great Barrier Reef, the largest living organism on earth and the only one visible from the moon.

Before my diving accident, I wasn’t really made for running. As a former footballer, I admit that the idea of running “without chasing after a ball” repulsed me. Nowadays, after my diving accident that nearly cost me the use of my legs in the Red Sea, I can’t have a single day without running. Running for me is pure fun. Not to beat someone, but to achieve a goal. When you run, you find yourself at total peace with yourself. Your body and mind are one and nothing can stop you.

Some fathers want to bequeath to their children a material possessions or wealth they garnered throughout their career. Through the Marseille – Sydney – Cairns race, I want to leave a different legacy for my two daughters. I want to prove to them that everything is possible.

In the same vein, I want to send a message of hope to those who struggle with their body.

I do believe that I’m a miracle. I want to show them that man can transcend himself, pain, and adversity by clinging to his dreams. For me, Australia is a myth, a dream, a land of legend. It’s my dream.

Runtastic: So what is your main goal. What do you want to achieve with this project? 
What’s the story of your run?
Christophe: Goal 1: Pushing the Limits. Like all runners, I love a challenge and I want my name in the small family of transcontinent runners. I want to be the first person to cross three continents, running without a day of rest. I will also try to break the record of the longest running race in the world (27,091 km). I will also try to beat the number of kilometers run in one year (27,011 km). Finally, I would like to become the first man to cross three continents in a row running at this speed/pace.

Christophe: Goal 2: Run for a great cause. Alert the public of the imminent disappearance of the Great Barrier Reef due to global warming. Because of global warming, and due to tourist exploitation of this remarkable site, coral begins to whiten and dies. Scientists have found that coral bleaching, which announces the death of coral is more and more visible. If we do not find solutions to this problem the Great Barrier Reef is going to disappear…

But here is my original motivation, as breaking records is not my primary motivation: By reaching Cairns, I hope to realize my childhood dream of diving at the Great Barrier Reef. I could go by plane, but then I would betray the oath I made to a sea turtle in 2003. In fact, it all started in April 2003. As an emeritus diver, I was the victim of a terrible decompression accident. I spent a week in a hyperbaric chamber and they feared paraplegia or quadriplegia was in my future. In my dreams, between delusions and pain, a turtle I came across a few minutes before my accident came back to me and whispered, “If you really believe in your dream, it will happen.” Then, I made a promise, “If I pull through this, I will run to Australia.” Finally, my legs came back and since then, I’ve been chasing my dream.

Runtastic: Coming back to the running itself, tell us what goes through your mind in an ultra-challenge like that? How do you mentally prepare for such a long-lasting project?
Christophe : Hard question, as a lot of things are going through my mind. As a father, I’m thinking about my children and future projects. Running for more than one year means that I need to be fully mentally prepared. Mental strength, focus, toughness is 90% of success. I really believe this. I also practice yoga, take long walks, and dive. Being able to rest between running phases is very important. It’s my “job” to listen to my body before the big departure.

While running, I sometimes run in “mental mode” when it hurts. I push an imaginary button in my head in order to forget my body’s pain. I have the chance to be able to communicate deeply with my body. When I fall down, I think about the opportunity I have, how privileged I am, and this helps me to rise again. Above all, I recognize the sacrifices I’ve made to take on this challenge and also the amazing gift it is – to run all over the world! It’s so great to meet people and rediscover all the basics of life: generosity, hospitality, kindness, and courage.

untastic: What can you tell us about your exact route? Which countries do you have to run through all the way down to Australia?
Christophe: Yes, in Europe I will cross: France, Monaco, Slovenia, and Hungary. On the Asian continent : Ukraine, Russia, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, China, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Malaysia, and Singapore. The last country will be Australia. You can find the full map on my website.

Runtastic: What’s your personal life philosophy? Is there a secret or any motivational advice you can give our users to break their own records and to achieve their own spectacular goals?
Christophe: A lot of people are looking at me as if I was an alien. But, I’m the most common human you can find. My life philosophy? Nothing is stronger than the human will. With your heart and your will, nothing is impossible. You have to enjoy every moment of your life.

Runtastic: Thank you for the great interview. You are a champion and you have a wonderful message to share. Is there any way to support your project?

Christophe VissantChristophe: This race is an important project that requires resources to be achieved. We still need help. We’ve organized a lottery that allows everyone to help the project become a reality. By buying kilometers (2€ for 1 km), you can participate in funding the challenge and you’re entered in the lottery. The winner will receive a free plane trip for two people to Cairns, Australia to celebrate my arrival!

I would also like to thank my sponsors that have already done a great job and we are happy to welcome new partners. Thanks also to Runtastic for providing the app I use for my training!


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