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BY: MARK COHEN • run • 11.04.2022
It’s summer 2021. Runners from across Europe are hanging out in the race village at the Odlo High Trail Vanoise. They discuss finish times, the best trail running shoes and their respective race calendars – a standard post-race trail scene to some, right down to the merino shirts and trucker caps.
In the crowd stands Adrien Seguret – the then running coach and manager for Team TSL. He’s chatting about the vertical kilometre and other races, surrounded by runners both on and off the team. The vibe is positive, and, in this light, few would see a need to replace him as manager in 2022. Things are going well, and the team’s athletes are getting results.
But in a few weeks, after accepting a new challenge with a national trail running project, and thanks to a conflict of interest, his job will become vacant.
Enter 29-year-old Emilien Bochet. He is a slender and soft-spoken. A former cross-country skier turned French national alpine ski tour racer. He has taken over as team manager as of January 1st and is visibly excited about the season and opportunity ahead. We reach him from his house in the mountains to discuss his new role.
When asked about the team and upcoming season, Bochet is concise in his responses about plans, trail running and racing, describing both as passions but with little additional detail. His Instagram however reveals a young guy who is lives for the outdoors. A modest personality that is clearly consumed with beautiful high-altitude backdrops, being in the mountains, racing and adventure – passions he will inject into a collab with Seguret who will stay on as team coach.
While personal interests have made him a familiar face in the French trail scene – he knows the runners by face at most of the events – he admits his surprise when he got the call about the TSL job. Yet with a degree in sports event management and stints working at international trail fixtures that include the Ultra Trail Mont Blanc – perhaps the only person surprised that he’s now running a pro trail running team is, well, him.
“I was pretty surprised when Adrien reached out,” he explains, when he first learned of the opportunity in the fall of 2021. “But I’m excited about working with him (Seguret), the athletes, the role and the dynamic on this team.”
“It’s a great atmosphere to be a part of.”
Yves Heloury joins TSL; Molliet steps back
In addition to new management, other big off-season news from TSL included the addition of Yves Heloury. The 2021 French vertical kilometre champion (Val D’Isere), Heloury is 23 years old and a runner from whom the team expects success in middle distance and classic course events; he will race every month from May through September this summer.
Heloury runs fast on flat-ish courses, says Bochet, and joins as long-time TSL athlete, Clement Molliet, steps back from racing to focus on career and family. He joins trail talents that include Marine Quintard, Maxime Grenot, Claire Mougel, Damien Humbert, and Benjamin Roubiol – each with their own 2022 race targets which Bochet will support.
Racing and running in 2022
Dynamics in the trail running world have changed a lot in recent years, Bochet admits. Some events have come and gone. Athletes have pushed what it means to run a marathon – now called “classics” – while race organizers have shifted their events to offer course lengths that appeal to mass audiences.
Firmly within this world are races like the ODLO HTV and teams like TSL. Big enough in scope that they rank high compared to events and competition in Europe, respectively, but not so big that they feature internationally. But for both – therein lines their charm.
For the HTV – you have a grassroots trail event on some of the most beautiful terrain in France – with high mountains, snow, and heart-thumping single track that few people outside France have the chance to race. It has various course lengths – from the vertical kilometre to 20-, 42-, 72- and 92-kilometre formats – yet it remains grassroots in the truest sense of the word. It has not been swallowed up by a large race company, it’s locally organized and it remains a milestone for trail lovers. What’s more, it’s set in an idyllic French mountain town.
In TSL, it is much the same. A cadre of exceptional talent and the dedication and ability to win at events – yet perhaps just not on the trail world’s biggest stages – yet. But that could change in time, explains Bochet, as trail running continues to evolve, new talents enter the fray and existing names push the limits of what’s possible.
Meanwhile, from their already strong base, TSL looks at 2022 with results in mind. From the HTV and beyond, with runners this varied – Grenot, an ultra-trail specialist and Mougel a high-altitude running threat, as only two examples – any race is up for grabs.