A humbled warrior

“The cold had seized up entirely the shaking muscles on my skinny bones, water was dripping from my hair as a light rain was steadily poring on us. My numb feet were stepping in a puddle of mud trying to get the blood back flowing. We were all standing in line, packed against each other, a node in the stomach, waiting for a gun to fire and launch the charge.”

I never went to war, but my first XC race at the age of seven felt everything like it. As the years went by, I got used to such atmosphere, tangible tension and fierce competition. When you’re half bent over an elastic string that you know can slap your quad so hard you could bleed and all people around you are elbows out and geared up with 6 15 millimeters spikes under each foot you better be ready for battle. There was always strong mutual respect for the competition, but no mercy.

It taught me to be over confident in order to perform at my best, challenge my limits, other’s limits and eventually jump on that box for a few seconds of glory. This attitude I have developed while racing shaped up my personality, a lot. I don’t give up, I play hard and can last longer than a honey badger digging out a hive. I am Jack’s endless confidence.

After a focus on the World Skyrunning ultra series and a results beyond what I could have initially expected, such positive moments have been raining on me. First the result itself meant a lot to me. I had trained hard towards that single goal, and I reached higher. This was going to be my ladder for the next challenge.

The New Balance sponsorship. When you’re getting used to hanging out with pro athletes, team managers and this whole elite environment, you could take this for granted as a way to perform better. It’s not. I have been picked to join the French NB team and received their support.

Following friendly twitt-anigans with ultra runners about a race, pacing history and pope issues, Dominic Grossman, NB athlete and hell of a runner, shoots me a message to offer to crew/pace me for the race. This is precisely when I realized I hadn’t only joined the New Balance french team, I had been welcomed into the global New Balance Family. It rocks.

If you read all this and you don’t know me, you must think by now that I’m the most arrogant self indulgent jackass. And you’re probably right about the 24 year old version of me. That’s who I was, bulldozing forward towards my goals with no second thoughts about consequences, collateral damage and whatnot. And when the goal’s reached, move onto the next one without even appreciating what I had worked so hard to get to. It was all about the challenge.

Truth is, I’m 28 now. 4 years of entrepreneurship have shown me times of deep disappointment, faced countless NOs, taught that not everything works according to plan even when you give it all. So I have learned to step back and put down my game face every once in a while. Be able to let the guard down and appreciate, be grateful for the things I have. I have learned humility the hard way… the best way.

I acknowledged I was extremely privileged to be in the place I am now, because regardless how hard one shall work, great things only come from mutual efforts and support. Friends, family, my girl and now New Balance, I couldn’t wish for better support.

And for that reason I’m more than ever looking forward to catching up with good friends and make new ones at this low key race you might have heard of : The North Face Endurance Challenge 50 miles in San Francisco 🙂
I’m ready to give it all, to go to war as I’ll toe the start line one more time, but I’ll keep in mind that piece of humility that makes us the Good People of the ultra running scene.

4 weeks to go…

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