Romain Malick at a glance
Tremendous tranquillity, then sheer despair
Romain Malick uses ultramarathon running to challenge his body, mind and spirit – to discover truths about himself, but also to look outwards and connect with others.
TCSer Romain Malick has always run, but in 2016 he decided to up the ante by entering the Marathon des Sables (MdS), a 6-day, 251km race across the Sahara Desert. It proved to be something he will never forget – an “out of this world experience,” he says.
What was it like? 50 degrees during the day, 5 degrees at night; carrying your own food, plus camping and sleeping gear whilst running; the rocky terrain to endure, the sand in your shoes causing blisters, the endless sand-dunes, the sheer distances involved, trying to recover at night to be ready for the next day…
“an out of this world experience”
“The difficult combination of dry food, harsh conditions and complicated water schedules disorientated even the toughest of runners,” says Romain, “At one moment you feel tremendous solace and tranquillity and yet at another, it is sheer despair. It was a veritable rollercoaster of emotions.”
Despite these challenges, Romain emerged from the desert with his sense of adventure not dampened or even satiated, but galvanized and enhanced. His fear of going beyond his own limitations was gone and he was hungry for more.
He also drew inspiration from his fellow competitors. During the MdS, Romain met a 60-year-old woman who finished the race. Her success proved to Romain that such challenges, as demanding as they may be, are a battle of the mind over the body.
“I want to reach for the stars to achieve the extraordinary. In order to realize my full potential I have to go where few dare to tread ”
Romain began his running career 10 years ago, starting with 10, 15 and 20km before moving on to half marathons. After completing six marathons in cities like Paris, Nice, Lyon, Berlin and Amsterdam, he wanted to do something different, so he started running off-road, in natural surroundings like mountains and forests. His pace was slower but he enjoyed running for longer in harmony with the natural environment around him. And from there, it seemed a logical step to take on the Sahara!
But Romain values company as well as solitude. His children – a boy and two girls – often accompany him during his training runs, and he also volunteers with “Courir-en-Duo”, which means “Running in Pairs”. This is an association through which volunteers guide blind runners. He also describes the joy of meeting people at races: “I got acquainted with the TCS Regional Director of Central Europe in Berlin. When I met him later in business, it was far easier for us to work together because of our earlier running connection.”
Resting on his laurels? Romain’s next steps
So what was next for our Superstar ultrarunner? Romain’s next challenge was the mountain ultra-marathon, ‘Grand Raid de Réunion,’ a highly challenging race in the French island of Réunion, located in the Indian Ocean between Madagascar and Mauritius. This 167km race has runners battling the rugged island landscape which turns from tropical to alpine, and from wetland to volcanic. But Romain was confident that he could taste success again in Réunion and finished the brutal race within the allotted 50 hours. What a massive achievement!
A superstar’s message to us all
Finally, what have these experiences taught Romain? “I want to reach for the stars to achieve the extraordinary. In order to realize my full potential I have to go where few dare to tread. I can do this whilst enjoying not only the serenity and solitude of nature but also the company and camaraderie of running friends, and of course the elation that only victory can deliver.”