Heart and legs
Pediatrician and ultra-marathon runner Sébastien Roulier no longer counts his records. But his list of achievements is impressive. Among the 185 races he has participated in, let’s highlight that in 2018 he became the fastest marathon runner on the planet to complete the 42.2 km while pushing a person living with a disability in a wheelchair in a time of 3:01:01. An improvement of more than 30 minutes on the previous Guinness Record mark of 3:35. On top of that, there are equally impressive records for distance traveled or time to his name. Breathtaking.
Before pushing wheelchairs, our marathon runner practiced pushing carts… Sébastien trained with his children. Father of three, he participated in many events by pushing one or another. In the process, he won several races and broke records.
Road, trails, obstacles, duo, the versatility of the runner is astonishing. But beyond these extraordinary performances, it is the human adventure behind it all that fascinates and moves.
Over the years, Sébastien has run with many people living with a disability. He did not know them before living this adventure. They were often the ones who approached our big-hearted runner.
“Marie-Michèle Fortin is 25 years old, she has cerebral palsy, she his very lucid. She was born very prematurely and it was known from a very young age that she would not walk. Confined to her wheelchair, she still considers herself a runner. And she is right. The day before the 2018 Marathon de Montréal, she bought herself a brand new pair of running shoes. She proudly wears her runner’s outfit with her bib attached. She is running the marathon. What I’m giving her are legs to give her the experience of running a marathon.”
Thanks to Sébastien’s generosity, people living with a severe disability like Marie-Michèle or Samuel Camirand, 28, who was diagnosed with the degenerative disease Friedreich’s ataxia at the age of 8, can live an extraordinary experience: the excitement of a sporting event. Think of the start, the cheering of the crowd along the course and the finish line, once again under the applause of spectators… and then the medal.
“In 2018, at the Marathon de Montréal, Marie-Michèle and I qualified for the Boston Marathon, she was able to experience this mythical event with her people, it is the dream of many runners. Samuel also qualified the following year, but the COVID-19 got in the way. It’s only a postponement.”
Is a sporting event from the comfort of an armchair a Sunday stroll? Sébastien is categorical. “It’s far from being a restful experience for the passenger. It can be uncomfortable in the long run, you have to stand up straight. You have to hold on tight. Stabilize yourself in the chair. Learn to counterbalance yourself. Endure the jolts, anticipate the turns by distributing the weight on the chair. It’s an ordeal just like mine. You feel the same things, the speed, the air resistance, the wind. The day after an event, we are both sore… but proud of our accomplishment.”
Will we see Sébastien at the starting line of the Marathon Beneva de Montréal in September? “Definitely! It’s on my calendar. I will run the 42.2 km… in duo with a passenger”. And who is the lucky one? “To this day, I don’t know. “
Do I run with or without music?
How cold does it have to be to discourage me from running in the winter?
“I don’t care about the temperature, I run at -40°C with no problem, but I avoid icy days.”
After a good training session or a competition, I spoil myself, without guilt, with what dish ?
” Some time ago it was chocolate, but now with my girlfriend it’s a good beer.”
Do I ever run on a treadmill?
“Occasionally, but with an elliptical.”
The running event I want to participate in?
“The Diagonale des Fous (Le Grand Raid de l’île de La Réunion).”
A runner who inspires me.
An inspiring reading (related or not to the race)?
“The Peaceful Warrior by Dan Millman.”
In a word, what type of runner am I?