Louis and Grégoire

Louis D., 31, Project Engineer in Exploration and Production at Total, and Grégoire T. du B., 22, and in his 2nd year at Centrale-Supélec Rennes, together led the winning team for the Team Total Land Grant. ‘Supélec Galaxy’ took part in the Raid Centrale Paris in the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence region, France. They tell us all about the most memorable moments from those magical five days…


Could you tell us a bit about yourselves and why you participated in Raid Centrale Paris?


L.D. As  former student at ENSAM ParisTech, I have been working within Group since September 2008. I am very sporty and participate in triathlons: although I am more interested in endurance than speed. This was my first time participating in Raid, a new experience for me! I was designated captain by Total for this year’s team ‘Supélec Galaxy’.


G.T.d.B. For my part, I’ve enjoyed mountain climbing with a club at a national level for eight years now. I love the mountains and am very passionate about climbing. The Raid Centrale Paris is a vital student event if you’re at engineering school and happen to enjoy sports. Along with two other students, one from the 1st year and the other from the 2nd, both of whom are good at sports (cycling and sailing), we decided to get a team together. We sent a presentation video explaining our motivations for the event and were lucky to have been selected. Total took care of our participation fee and bought us the clothes needed for the event.


When did you first meet?


L.D. Before the Raid event, Total organized a training weekend in the forest of Fontainebleau (Essonne). The program: orienteering trail, trail and mountain biking. Most important of all was that we got to meet each other before the start of the event, to find out where we all were with regards to our different sports and to start organizing ourselves. It was obvious to me straight away that my teammates were willing and motivated! They were also good sports people, especially Grégoire in running and Benjamin in cycling.


G.T.d.B. We all got on very well straightaway. Raid is a team sporting event and knowing the motivations of each member of the team is primordial in order to help each other out when things get tough. Louis has had a lot of experience in triathlons and in entering competitions, he was a great help when it came to managing the kit and training methods.


All four of you started the race…


L.D. Yes, absolutely. The day before the opening ceremony we met up with the opposing teams through a series of friendly trials. We also got our equipment together, recovered our bikes and pitched our tents. Things started to go wrong the following day with the first days’ events being held under the most appalling weather. Super sticky mud forced us to carry our bikes throughout most of the day and without much of a map: a real assault course! We were soaked to the skin and freezing cold, and yet, we finished in 6th place thanks to Grégoire who managed to win us a few precious points!


G.T.d.B. The first day was, effectively, very hard but thanks to the support and mutual aid of the team everything went well. By this stage we had got to know each other and just a few words were enough to let each other know if help was needed. Our finishing position at the end of the day despite being not as well trained as the other participants was a real boost!


L.D. The 2nd day promised better weather conditions but was nevertheless difficult due to the descent of the trial to be accomplished. Furthermore, a part of the day’s event was cancelled due to bad weather from the previous day, an hour and a half of cycling was no longer on the agenda. The team, however, worked extremely well together and we all managed to find a good rhythm.


G.T.d.B. The weather was beautiful and the race was excellent with a magnificent trail on Les Terres Noires near Dignes-les-Bains. I was on top form for the Via Ferrata (climbing), the final event of the day dedicated to companies.


A team number that started well but that ended in tears?


L.D. Alas, yes. The 3rd day four of us got out of bed but only three took part. Benjamin was ill and decided to throw in the towel. We started the day by a 700 to 800 meter climb. We organized ourselves as a team of three: Grégoire helped Inès in the uphill part of the running and we took it in turns to help her in the cycling. The landscapes were breathtaking and yet the day was a little difficult for me as my knee had become somewhat painful.


G.T.d.B. Losing Benjamin was hard because the aim was to finish with all four members of the team. It was also physically more difficult because if one of us wasn’t feeling too good we were but two left to help. Finally, having lost one member, we no longer had a chance of being well positioned where points were concerned. That said, we adapted ourselves well and ended up finishing in the fastest first 15.


L.D. The 4th day began with a high altitude descent that proved fatal for my knee. I could barely walk and ended up throwing in the towel around 25 kilometers from the finish. I took the opportunity to get back to camp and get some treatment for my knee which was promptly massaged and strapped up by an osteopath. Our remaining team members gallantly finished the days’ events by pulling together and finishing in the first ten. A really good performance.


G.T.d.B. We managed to hold up by walking when the trail went uphill in order to preserve our energy. Finishing the day meant determination and motivation when things got tough, it’s true but at the end of the day we made it!


And the finish on a high note?


L.D. Absolutely. On the 5th day my knee was a little better. We therefore participated as a team of 3 once again. To stay in the game we worked on our organization: Grégoire did the running which enabled me to stay on my bike for a maximum amount of time and not use my ‘crazy leg’. I had to take my hat off to him because he almost kept up with two opposing teams who were working in relay. I was also very impressed by Inès, she was suffering somewhat with her ankle but kept going just the same despite the pain. In the end we finished the Raid with a very respectable score considering the circumstances: 12th where timing was concerned and 30th in the overall ranking.


G.T.d.B. For the last day we gave everything we had. We left very early in the morning equipped with frontal torches for a nocturnal bike and run. It was excellent, the landscape, the Verdon gorges, were amazing. We felt physically strong and ran really well.


Your evaluation of the five days participating in the Raid?


L.D. Very positive! Firstly from a sports point of view - there was a real sense of team spirit throughout the five days, not just from our own team but also those of our opponents. My three team members were real gems: strong, motivated and marvelous on a human level. I was really pleased to have been able to participate in such an event and if I manage to train a little better, especially for the different altitudes, I would definitely like to renew the experience. I also enjoyed the evenings, convivial and physically regenerating not to mention spending time with other participants as well as my own team.


G.T.d.B. I thoroughly enjoyed the physical trials! They are very individual sports and yet doing them as a team is a real plus. The trails were amazing even though they were sometimes tricky technically speaking. I will never forget the fanfare that welcomed us at each of the refreshment stops! I would like to thank Total Campus and in particular Jean-Pierre N., a retired Total collaborator, who contributes to Raid each year and who constantly supported us. An amazing week, and next year, of course we’ll be there.