PORTRAIT. From the life of a patachon to the ultra-trail, Alexandre has become an exceptional runner

Until 2014, Alexandre Boucheix maintained a lifestyle closer to that of Simone Signoret than that of the Spanish athlete Kilian Jornet. In business school, the young man spent his student evenings emptying packets of cigarettes and drinking without thirst, nothing that is very ordinary in this world.

Such was his life before becoming Green Cap on social networks, shortly after putting on a pair of sneakers for the first time, on the initiative of a work colleague at JC Decaux. “I ran exactly 2.6 km that day. I spat out my lungs on a slight false flat, and then I turned around. I came home thinking it wasn’t for me. » remembers the native of Saint-Mandé (Val-de-Marne).

photo alexandre boucheix arrived 1st in the ultra 01 (177 km, 7617 md+, 21 h 59'), in 2021. beer is earned.  © photo: gilles reboisson, we are media

Alexandre Boucheix arrived 1st at the Ultra 01 (177 km, 7617 m D +, 21 h 59 ‘), in 2021. The beer is deserved. © Photo: Gilles Reboisson, We Are Media

Not far behind Courtney Dauwalter and François D’Haene

The student who had neglected himself a little gave way to  » a monster « , according to this work colleague who took him for his first jog. This Friday, April 8, he sets off at the start of the 100 Miles of Istria, a 168 km Croatian nature or ultra-trail race, qualifying for the 2023 edition of another formidable race, the Mont- White (UTMB).

photo friday april 8, green cap will start from the croatian town of umag, in the west, and run 168 km to labin, in the east.  © photo: openstreetmap

Friday April 8, Green Cap will start from the Croatian town of Umag, in the West, and run 168 km to Labin, in the East. © Photo: OpenStreetMap

For more than 24 hours, night and day, Alexandre Boucheix will trot from west to east throughout the Istrian peninsula, discovering low altitude mountains and the Mediterranean coasts. “I haven’t looked at the race profile yet. As it is Croatia, I imagine good weather and a bit of heat. But maybe the weather will be disgusting,” he confided, less than a week before the start.

This nonchalance leaves him when it comes to talking about performance. The runner would like to be aligned, for a third time, on the starting line of the ultra-trail of Mont-Blanc (171 km, 10,000 m of elevation gain) next year. In 2021, he won the 43and place among more than 1,500 finishers, about thirty ranks behind the American legend of the discipline, Courtney Dauwalter. On the top step of the podium, we found the French specialist François D’Haene, untouchable for four years on the event.

“I deal with my e-mails on the run”

“I am going to Croatia among the favourites. I can try for a podium, if my heel and my foot hold up,” he moderates. Because yes, it’s rare but Alexandre Boucheix is ​​injured. But it is out of the question not to participate in this race planned since 2020 and postponed several times. Affected by serious tendinitis, the athlete has been forced to deviate from his daily routine for years: his daily 23 km (at least) on his way home from work or in the Bois de Vincennes, in contact with his underworld fauna.

During the first confinement, he had pushed the effort to do a marathon a day on a treadmill. It’s the kind of madness that has built the character of Green Cap, the grigri headgear that has never left him since his beginnings in running. With a leitmotiv borrowed from Jacques Brel – “Talent doesn’t exist. Talent is wanting to do something. which he recites in reference to his first months, his first years of practice. “It was just pain. Atrocious”, summarizes the madman, ready to run on injuries to push his limits, without listening to anyone’s advice.

Alexandre Boucheix now manages to finish any race while maintaining a cruising speed close to 14 km/h. “I’m so used to running, my legs turn on their own. My upper body is free to do something completely different. I deal with my e-mails and the administration while running”, he laughs. Also for shopping, going for a drink with friends, and then crossing a mountain range, forests… « It has become a means of transport », concludes the Parisian.

“We will have to kill Green Cap one day”

At thirty, the time for discovering the discipline of ultra-trail is definitely behind him, even if he ventures into new playgrounds like Croatia. The trailer imposes more and more targeted objectives, such as beating his own record on the Lyon-Sainté-Lyon which he won twice (155 km, 6 h 03 ’06 »).

“I can’t do ultra all my life, I dream of other projects. Eating two to three hours of running every day is not sustainable. Another three or four years and I’ll stop, » he announces. These hours also allow him to respond to the comments of his very many subscribers on the Strava or Instagram applications, in particular. It was by posting a daily photo of his kilometers traveled that he became a character followed by nearly 45,000 people. His increasing results in competition have accelerated the phenomenon: « Sometimes I stop myself from posting photos or a message because behind it, I will have too many comments and I won’t be able to reply to all of them », he regrets.

There is a category of subscribers to whom he never responds in any case: the “admirers” who, well intentioned, try to advise him on his way of eating, running, taking care of himself. The autodidact brushes it all aside. In an equally innocuous although strange way, some subscribers copy his habits: « All I have to do is go on a race with Carambar for people to start doing the same the next day », wonders the trailer.

It’s not easy to combine two lives in one. “But the good thing about this Green Cap character is that he can cease to exist. You will have to kill him one day. » Green Cap will stop competing and die. The fact that his alter ego is coming of age seems to make him nostalgic. As if the ultra runner had given so much that he had ended up burning out.

This romantic ideal is not to displease Alexandre Boucheix, passionate about Cyrano by Jean-Paul Rappeneau, with Gérard Depardieu. He thinks about an ending that has a little « panache ».

Towards supervised training to be even more efficient

With the support of his well-functioning social networks, the trailer wishes, in the long term, to associate his name with projects of general interest, drawing inspiration from Bernard Barataud, creator of the French Telethon. His success in running convinces him: it is possible. Sailing across the Atlantic, taking part in a three-day trail in Chad, around Lake Baikal… Alexandre Boucheix has some ideas for “the aftermath”.

It cannot be imagined without fear. It can arise around a badly negotiated bend in the mountains, running in the dark. “But finding yourself alone in the middle of the Chartreuse massif at 4 a.m. is still something,” he relates. See your body and mind react to more than thirty hours of effort too: “The concentration is such that I sometimes have black holes of several hours during a race. During the trail des Maquisards in February, I came first without remembering that I had overtaken second. Yet I did. »

green cap photo, during the paris ecotrail (80 km, 1,500 m of elevation gain), march 19, 2022. arriving 8th, the runner is now a public figure in the ultra-trail world.  © photo: julien pasternak, @ecotrail

Green Cap, during the Paris Ecotrail (80 km, 1,500 m of elevation gain), March 19, 2022. Arriving 8th, the runner is now a public figure in the ultra-trail world. © Photo: Julien Pasternak, @Ecotrail

With a monthly ultra-trail on his 2022 calendar and an annual budget of nearly €5,000 that he reserves for these activities, Alexandre Boucheix is ​​preparing his monument, his favorite race: the Diagonale des Fous (164 km , 10,000 m of elevation gain) on Reunion Island. Arrived 82and during the 2017 and 18 editionand in 2021, the runner is aiming for a top 10. And then it will be time to take stock: “I had been in a relationship for four years. It’s finish. I always put my private life before the trail, but now the order of priorities has changed. »

To end his last years of ultras in style, Alexandre Boucheix could accept what he has always rejected: follow supervised training and take all the advice possible to progress further. « We’ll see if it works. I will do everything, thoroughly. » A few years ago, the “Green Cap” in the making put running aside after his pitiful 2.6 km jog. Before changing your mind.

Green Cap is on Strava, Instagram, Twitter and gives a weekly live (8 p.m. to 12 a.m.) on Sundays on his Twitch channel.

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