France

Karine Herry

Karine Herry - photo © Lafouche
  • 2 January 1968
  • Les Estables, Haute-Loire (France)
  • General practitioner specializing in nutrition, degree in high-level sport
  • Doctor in the rural countryside
  • 2007

A mastery of terrain as well as scientific expertise
«First and foremost, what I do is about sharing with my family, a group of friends, other athletes and people who share the same core human values. Beyond sharing are the discovery of the world, of others, of myself, as well as a scientific understanding of the human body and its weaknesses and staying healthy - all factors that motivate me to go further.»

Long-distance running, an incredibly demanding discipline
(100 km on the road and 100 miles on trails, 24 hours on the trot)
«Running provides me with amazingly interesting encounters, a balance for my day-to-day life as a doctor, a shared passion with my partner and a life lesson for our children. My activity has given me the chance to enjoy other countries and regions in addition to the culture shock I have experienced. My greatest pleasure is having the chance to run through the great national parks of the U.S., Latin America, Japan and Nepal. These immense, preserved places inspire respect, humility and wonder within me, like the unexpected encounter with wild animals in the middle of the TransRockies run or seeing the amazing desert plants of the Chilean Altiplano, without forgetting all the little exchanges with the exceptionally well-natured Chileans and Nepalese. What I love about racing at night is the continual struggle to keep in tune with your terrain. It’s hard to describe the emotions you feel when a wild animal appears in the beam of your headlamp – a rattlesnake, a puma or a bear with its young ones – all less than two meters away.»
 
Reflecting on your sport
«The most difficult thing is the physical and psychological commitment during the 24-hour, non-stop road runs. Running is maybe one of the most mentally demanding activities. You have to summon and maintain motivation. The trick is to find the best possible balance between pleasure and pain. There are no rest or belay points like there are in mountaineering, moments when you can let go… This helps me to understand how the body works and to constantly strive to fine-tune my body for a very demanding activity through rest, recuperation and nutrition... That’s what I am trying to pass on to others. Actually, I do that all day long anyway! To my partner, my children, to the sick people I treat as well as in conferences and the advice I give to individuals, businesses and schools. I utilize all the experience I have gained by running and from my medical education in nutrition to better advice athletes and the people who come to see me at the practice, to prevent health problems or to supplement the treatment of complex illnesses. I am pursuing research that I hope will resolve certain questions raised about doing four intensive years of ‘Ultras’ as a woman. Generally, the scene has very little perspective on the issue. We have seen some rather short careers with runners being left by the wayside after just two or three years. The recuperation period is often taken for granted which may explain the deluge of injuries and fatigue over the long-term. I am totally preoccupied with regenerating my body to a maximum and with confirming some of my hypotheses on health and the impact of Trails and Ultra-trails on our bodies. I meticulously write down everything I go through as a 42 year-old female athlete. Because it took up so much of my time in my first years of racing I neglected other sports like ski mountaineering, climbing and cycling but I am now convinced of the benefits of a multi-disciplinary approach.»
 
A goal in life
«The source of what I do lies in a desire to make the absolute most out of life. After all, it’s unique! For me, the main qualities needed for what I do are endurance and desire. Running every day brings me a heightened awareness of my existence and the feeling of being lucky to be able to live these moments. And if I had more time I would take all my notes from over the years and write a book sharing my experiences accompanied by my husband’s wonderful photos. The perfect day would be the one that allowed me to organize, in one day, all the stuff I haven’t been able to do in 15 years (in our big farm with its guest rooms high up in the Massif Central) and still leave time for me to look after my kids.»

picto plus Major ascents

A grand slam of victories, 2006.
- Ultra-Trail du Mont Blanc in 25 hours 22 minutes
- La Diagonale des Fous (grand raid de la Réunion)
- Endurance Ultra trail des Templiers in the Cevennes and Causses, France

Double victory at the French Championships 2007: 24 hours and 100 km
World and European Champion 2010. 24 hours non-stop on the road in Brive-la-Gaillarde

picto photo Photos

Karine Herry in the UTMB start - photo © Lafouche