Meeting with Stéphanie Gicquel, explorer


Can you introduce yourself in 21 words?

Passionate about life, about change. My mantra: “The only limit to our goals is the limit we give them.”

Can you describe your activity to us, what you do?

Currently, I work in several fields of activity. I mount and carry out committed long-term endurance expeditions over several weeks, several months, in extreme environments, particularly in the polar regions. In particular, I ran a marathon at the geographic North Pole, traveled more than 2,000 km across Antarctica walking from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. a day for almost three months in temperatures that dropped to -50°C. I am also a high-level athlete, member of the French athletics team, specialist in ultra-distance races. Entrepreneur, author, speaker, I also share on social networks, in particular on LinkedIn where I have just been named LinkedIn Top Voice, my reflections on the experiences I have had in very different worlds – law firms international business in which I evolved for around ten years up to extreme sport.

What eco-responsible actions do you implement in your daily life?

I pay attention to recycling and short-cycle consumption. What is good for the planet is also good for the body. For example, a healthy and varied diet in accordance with the seasons contributes to a good balance – I feel this more and more as part of my practice of high-level sport.

During my sporting expeditions in the Arctic and Antarctica to the geographic North Pole and South Pole, I discovered a powerful and yet fragile nature. I founded an association under the 1901 law in order to raise public awareness, particularly among young people, of the beauty of the polar regions and their importance for the global climate, in particular through exhibitions and conferences labeled COP21 by the Ministry of Ecology. Wonder is often born from this paradox of which nature gives us so many examples, to encourage each of us to get involved with passion. Marvel at the beauty of the planet, the beauty of its landscapes, its biodiversity, before this immense beauty which is sometimes hidden in the oceans, on the tops of the mountains, in the deserts of sand or ice, and which reveals itself also, often, very close for those who know how to open their eyes wide. To marvel at so much beauty, and then succumb without resisting this deep desire, which lies dormant in each of us, to commit to protecting and preserving our planet, for ourselves and for all those who will follow us.

For several years, during each sporting project and expedition that I embark on with my partners and sponsors, I have raised funds for the Petits Princes Association. These are my heroes, all the Little Princes and all the Little Princesses who fight against illness every day. For more than 30 years, the Petits Princes Association has helped them to project themselves beyond illness by making their dreams come true.

Three tips/practices for a more sustainable, local and responsible daily life?

I have the feeling that we are all more and more sensitive to these problems and issues, and many are already adopting good practices on a daily basis. Three tips? I would say consume sensibly, travel on foot or by bike when possible, limit and manage waste at your level.

What actions or commitments or personalities inspire you?

I meet a lot of people in very varied worlds – sport, exploration, business, entrepreneurs. Every person has something remarkable about what they have experienced, and sometimes they don't realize it. But we all have a gem, we all carry something unique within us. And when we know how to see it, when we know what our resources are, what our strengths and weaknesses are, we can go further towards our objectives. It’s all these encounters, these differences that inspire me.

Upcoming competitions? How to create motivation and good training habits when dates and events are not clear?

The European Championships which were to take place at the end of the summer have been canceled.

I am now planning with the French team for the next Ultra-distance World Championships in spring 2021. I am starting to think with my coach about a training plan to improve the performance that I achieved during the last Worlds (240.6 km in 24 hours). Until then, if the situation permits, I will complete several preparation courses at altitude and with the French athletics team, and will participate in long-distance, long-distance and ultra events this fall.

The current situation reminds us how lucky we are to be able to practice our sport when conditions permit. The emotion felt during the next departures will be even stronger. However, it can be difficult to prepare for a competition without knowing if it will go ahead. Even when a race is not maintained, good training is always beneficial, perhaps even more beneficial when carried out in difficult conditions – especially conditions of uncertainty. The body has a certain memory and the mind can draw additional strength from it. As I often say in conferences, the accomplishment felt is always equal to the obstacles overcome. It is the obstacle which makes the path interesting and which gives the objective its flavor, because in each obstacle there is a force of resistance, of opposition which pushes us to go further, to persevere.

It is also possible to see things from another angle, to take advantage of this period for example to prepare to come back even stronger – by testing new ways of training or by working on certain aspects to which we sometimes give less time such as equipment, pre-race nutrition, fueling, mental preparation. A good time to slow down on the competition side, to relax a little to go faster and further during the next events.

Upcoming expeditions? What would you dream of? Next year ?

There is no shortage of ideas! I still have a lot to discover and learn in the field of exploration, high-level sport and in so many other areas that interest me just as much. We all have one life, and we cannot change it, but I am convinced that it is long enough for several moments of life to follow one another, one after the other, one behind the other.

Stephanie Gicquel

Stéphanie Gicquel is an explorer, high-level athlete, speaker and author. She notably traveled Antarctica via the South Pole over 2,045 kilometers in 74 days at -50°C – the longest ski expedition carried out by a woman in Antarctica (Guinness World Record).

A specialist in ultra-distance running, she is a French champion and a member of the French athletics team. As part of her preparation for the World Championships in 2019 (240.6 km over 24 hours – 7th in the world – International A level), she ran 7 marathons in 7 consecutive days around the world.

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