Arthur Joyeux-Bouillon of France returns to the 2023 UTMB, following a seventh-place finish last year. He has form in UTMB races, having previously placed third in the 2021 TDS, and ninth in the 2018 CCC.
In this interview, he talks about his background as a trail runner and ski mountaineer, life in the quieter Savoie region of the Alps, and how he thinks he can improve upon his seventh-place debut at UTMB.
Arthur Joyeux-Bouillon Pre-2023 UTMB Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Meghan Hicks of iRunFar. I’m with Arthur Joyeux-Bouillon. It’s a couple of days before the 2023 UTMB. That was a very French name. It’s nice to meet you, Arthur.
Arthur Joyeux-Bouillon: Nice to meet you, too.
iRunFar: This is iRunFar’s first interview with you, so I’d love to begin by learning about you as an athlete and a person outside of running.
Joyeux-Bouillon: So yeah, sure. I’m Arthur Joyeux-Bouillon. I live in Savoie, near Col du Petit-Saint-Bernard on the path of the TDS. So altitude at 1,800 meters. During winter, I practice ski mountaineering. I love to run and do sport during winter and cold, cold weather like this.
iRunFar: Today is good for you.
Joyeux-Bouillon: Perfect. And during summer and all the other season, I’m pro trail runner, and I like to do Ultra Trail. So now I’m on On [Running] team since one year on. I’m so happy to do again UTMB.
iRunFar: You have been running Ultra Trail for quite some time. You have many race results to your name all over Europe and even further racing.
Joyeux-Bouillon: Yeah, I did some Ultra Trail. But on UTMB, I did the CCC. I finished ninth in 2019. I did two time TDS, but the first time I didn’t finish. The second time I finished three. And for my first UTMB last year, I finished seventh. So, happy to come back again and try my best.
iRunFar: Whenever somebody finishes that well at UTMB, seventh place is, you know, many people would call that a career high. To come back again, you must be wanting more than that. To do more than that?
Joyeux-Bouillon: It’s true. I want to do better. But I did my best for the preparation, so I see the race about the, in French, sorry, la cerise sur le gâteau, is the, how do you say in English? Maybe cherry on the cake. You know?
iRunFar: Ah, okay. I heard cake. [laughs]
iRunFar: That’s a word I know.
Joyeux-Bouillon: When you train hard and you do your best on each training, you just have to run during the race and do what you can do. And after, it’s full of pleasure. And if this year is exactly the same, I pushed more on the training. I learned about me more. So, this year I think I can do better. And we will see.
iRunFar: And we will see. What is it like to, because you live not far from here, and this is your playground for winter and summertime, what’s it like to see 10,000 runners and people like me from around the world descend upon your region every year? Like, what is it? What does that mean to you?
Joyeux-Bouillon: It’s a real pleasure, because I see during all the year and each day this kind of playground. And I have the chance to do my training and my life on this place, not here, but just at 40 kilometer. And it’s a real pleasure to see the world and interior world come here. And you can see in the eyes of people, it’s just beautiful. And our sport is to run on the mountain, so you need to see the nice playground and nice landscape. And I think Chamonix is the perfect place for running and Ultra Trail.
iRunFar: You come from over like, on the far, I don’t know, we call it the most remote side of the course. Like Bourg Saint-Maurice, Les Chapieux. That’s a wild area over there. Can you explain for people who aren’t familiar with it, what the remote part of the Alps is like? Because everybody kind of knows Chamonix and the busyness, but can you explain what it’s like when you get really out there?
Joyeux-Bouillon: Yes, where I live, just near of Bourg Saint-Maurice, it’s a while the country and wild area. And it’s not exactly the same at Chamonix. Less people, not the Mont Blanc, just near of my home, but some summits at 3,000 meter. And for me, it’s a perfect place, because I can go outside during maybe six, seven hour and nothing. Just animals, just me, my dog, and mountain animals. So, for our sport, it’s just perfect. You can, I don’t know when you said in English, but “pense à toi,” but “Think about you.”
iRunFar: Think about yourself. Yeah.
Joyeux-Bouillon: It’s perfect. And on the path of the TDS, you can think about you during a lot of time.
iRunFar: [laughs] You have a lot of time to think about yourself.
iRunFar: Last question for you. If you have the perfect race on Friday and Saturday, you know in 100 miles something will go wrong, but as close as you can get to perfect, what does that look like for you?
Joyeux-Bouillon: It’s always difficult to reply with this question because the path of UTMB, it’s not the same each year. This year, there is two for sure moments where the path, they take another road. Yes, there is a climb, a rockfall in Trient. And at the end, we don’t go to the Tête aux Vents. So, on a perfect race this year, if I do less than 21 hour,
iRunFar: You’ll be happy.
Joyeux-Bouillon: It will be so perfect. And it’s my goal.
Joyeux-Bouillon: So, we’ll see.
iRunFar: Best of luck to you on another loop around Mont Blanc, and good luck for that 21-hour finish.
Joyeux-Bouillon: Thank you so much. We will see you at the finish line.