Interview with Stéphanie Gicquel, extreme sportswoman

Could you introduce yourself?

I am an extreme sportswoman. I operate in two worlds linked to the extreme: high-level athletics in the deep and ultra-long distance disciplines and the exploration of the polar regions (Arctic and Antarctica).

In particular, I traveled 2045 km across Antarctica via the South Pole in 74 days, an expedition carried out seven years ago and which still remains to this day the longest expedition on foot without a traction sail carried out by a woman on this continent. This expedition is registered in the Guinness World Records.

I also ran at the geographic North Pole, seven marathons in seven consecutive days in Antarctica and around the world, and more than 240 km in 24 hours non-stop during the last world championships with the French athletics team.

I am currently preparing for the European Ultra Championships and the 100 km World Championships with the French team - these two international events will take place in 2022.

Could you tell us where you grew up?

I was born in Carcassonne and grew up in the suburbs of Toulouse. I grew up in a family environment far removed from high-level sport and adventure sports.

How did you become a polar explorer?

It’s not something that happened overnight, it’s been a very long road.

Very early on, I wanted to travel, to discover the world because when I was young I did not travel abroad. I also think that I became aware quite quickly of the fact that life is short and that you have to get moving.

I focused on my studies because I told myself that they would give me the keys to be able to undertake, because above all, being an adventurer, being a high-level athlete, is a question of entrepreneurship. Studies were a way to emancipate myself.

I went to business school and worked as a business lawyer specializing in mergers, acquisitions and LBOs. A domain also far from the universe in which I grew up. I paid off student loans through a corporate life for several years.

At the same time, the desire to travel has gradually become clearer. I developed a passion for extreme endurance sports, particularly ultra-trail and ultra-distance running, that is to say long-distance running, and a passion for the polar regions. I like the cold, the whiteness, the deserts…

I then had a life as an entrepreneur, a high-level athlete, an explorer. Author too.

How did you actually go from lawyer to extreme explorer?

As mentioned, it was a long journey which was punctuated by key meetings: those of explorers, mountaineers, and high-level athletes, with whom I had the opportunity to train, particularly in the mountains. .

This environment, far removed from the world in which I grew up, became my daily life through these encounters, my training, my experiences.

This polar dream, which was just an idea initially, did not remain at the idea stage and ended up becoming an objective. After a while, reading about adventure stories across the white deserts was no longer enough; I had to go there.

I am very curious and amazed, which leads me to be interested in many subjects. When one of them excites me, the awareness that life is short pushes me to get started and I then give my all on this path. I'm pushing my limits.

It takes several years to set up and prepare for an expedition. Several years also to train and improve a record in high-level sport. And you also need the strength of perseverance, the strength of work, and the strength of confidence that everything is possible.

Was becoming an explorer a dream?

When I was a child, I dreamed of traveling and I always really liked sport, physical activity outdoors, without being affiliated to a club because I was unaware of their existence. I loved searching for the perfect gesture. I liked sports that required a lot of time and repetition to acquire technique. I did a lot of sport without knowing it.

What is quite atypical about my path is that I started with adventure sports before moving into high-level sport. The opposite is more common. The desire to travel led me towards this path and in particular the trips that I had the opportunity to make during my studies in business school.

The desire was strong to explore the great outdoors, to experience the solitude, the fullness, the sublime of the landscapes that surround us.

When we embark on projects that thrill us, when we are where we wanted to be, we feel alive. Of course we go through moments of effort and suffering, but as another explorer, Richard Byrd, expresses it, these environments are earned because they can only be seen by people who experience these stages.

It's true in everything, in sport, exploration or entrepreneurship: the path gives even more pleasure than achieving the goal.

What advice could you share for implementing discipline?

Discipline is a key element in achieving a goal, just like detailed work, anticipation, desire and energy level.

I devote a chapter of my latest book “In motion” to this resource. Discipline allows adaptation. I was able to become more aware as I collaborated on different research protocols and published scientific articles on the adaptation of the human body with researchers from INSEP, the Sport Expertise and Performance laboratory, the Army Biomedical Research Institute, etc.

I was already disciplined before getting into adventure sports. In the field of high-level sport, discipline means, for example, following your training plan despite daunting weather conditions. But that doesn't mean being stubborn, getting hurt or making yourself sick. Too much discipline can harm performance or the achievement of goals. You have to find a good balance.

Through experiences, expeditions, practicing high-level sport, I have been able to see that a detail can make all the difference (a food, a friction of a sock, etc.) and can lead to abandonment or a failure.

Anticipation helps manage stress and reduce risks. This allows you not to suffer. Then all that remains are the unpredictable obstacles.

There is also a question of sincere motivation, over a long period of time. You have to know how to surround yourself with the right people to go further.

Finally, another essential point is the energy level. Recovery, sleep and diet contribute, and not just calories but also the micro-nutritional density of the foods that make up our plate.

How did you find out about Circle?

I met Romain Trebuil a few years ago. I regularly speak to entrepreneur networks, the Salon des Entrepreneurs, Go Entrepreneurs, the Entrepreneurial Mentoring Institute, Fabrique Aviva, BPIFrance Inno Generation, the Réseau Les Premières, Femmes d'Ici et d'Ailleurs, etc. and have been a godmother since January 2021 of the Women of the Territories network. Within this network, our objective is to encourage constructive interactions around entrepreneurial projects led by women and, through the sharing of experiences, to find more effectively the means to get each of these projects off the ground, in particular through the development business plans and the search for suitable financing.

I am also involved with organizations for the preservation of the environment and founded an association to promote the polar regions. I am also sensitive to fashion and in particular eco-responsible fashion. And naturally I love sport… Our meeting was therefore more than obvious!


Actions in terms of eco-responsibility, values ​​– notably consuming less but better, the requirement for technicality and performance – design, colors, audacity, modernity, simplicity.


In particular, I had the opportunity to test the brand's prototypes in training, whether on the track in Paris, at INSEP, in Font-Romeu at the National Altitude Training Center or during my trail sessions in nature.


I like the versatility of the equipment that I have been able to test. Their adaptability also to different environmental conditions - rain, cold, heat.

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