Patrick Berthet, like a bandmaster
During the race, he is everywhere. Hammer in hand, banner on the shoulder, giving a helping hand to his wife Helen at the shop or encouraging teams on the line, he is often singing, talking dog sled or make laugh. And yet … it’s not the one the public sees the most. Patrick is like a conductor in shadow. Retired more than active he works hard all year to prepare the race alongside Dominique Grandjean and Jean-Louis Fortebrandi, vice-president of the association and also a pilar of Lekkarod. Meet the one who likes to say that he works part time for the Lekkarod … 12 hours a day!
Patrick, how did you start your adventure with lekkarod ?
I won several national titles (vice-champion of France, champion of France, twice winner of the Coupe de France) and international (twice winner of the European Cup), and I participated several times in the Championships of Europe and the World (best French in 1999 in Switzerland, 13th world). I was later Federal Technical Director and co-founded the Rhône-Alpes Challenge a one-week sprint race. One day in 2014, I received a phone call from Jean-Louis Fortebrandi (Ed . Jean-Louis is also a former sprint musher and has contributed to the organization of several competitions) who came to get me out of retirement and here it is ! Very quickly being the only active retiree of Lekkarod Association, I found the time to be able to collect the information and the administrative paperwork (vast program) and I continued on the technical side.
As coordinator, what is your job? What are the stages of preparation during the year and then during the competition?
It’s almost 10 months of preparation work and the last three months before the Lekkarod is about 50 to 60 hours per week for Dominique and me, backed by Jean-Louis, Delphine and Stéphane.
We can consider two components in the pre-race.
The administrative side in the direction of the sports events service of Savoie based in Albertville that collects and meets the demands of the various services of the State (Gendarmerie, DDSV, DDT, NFB, etc.).
And the technical side, vast field that goes from the manufacture of the panels to the models of bibs, through the recognition of the milestones, the registration of the mushers, the management of the volunteers. Everything must be allright for the good of all, competitors, volunteers, stations, sponsors, public. So I am a coordinator, but also a carpenter, PAO designer, locksmith, painter, and much more!
In the end, when the 1st stage starts, for me 99% of the work is done. And at that moment, the 50 volunteers take over. But there is always the little “grain of ice” that has remained. And it’s improvisation: a change of trail at the last moment, a competitor whose battery of his van explodes … Full of small problems to be fixed very quickly for the race to continue, “the show must go on”.
What do you think about the craze around the Lekkarod ?
Since the end of the Alpirod (1995) which Dominique Grandjean was co-founder, a void was to fill. A real race of mid-distance in stages whose leitmotif is Respect. Respect mushers, dogs, volunteers, stations that welcome us. The public is asking for beautiful images of dogs and mushers who cross the finish line with a smile, but the effort is there.
What is your view on the first 3 editions?
Let’s look at the numbers to see success:
Edition 2016: 11 teams registered, 8 classified
Edition 2017: 25 teams registered, 23 ranked
Edition 2018 to D-14: 68 teams registered (on the 9 days Lekkarod and the Trophies) ready to fight.
The next step is the organization of the world championships in February 2019: what does this represent for the Lekkarod association?
Well, from the end of Lekkarod 2018, two weeks of “holidays” and we start again !
The Lekkarod association will host at Bessans / Bonneval-sur-Arc the first world championships organized in France since their creation in 1990.
On February 1st, 2nd and 3rd, 2019, 250 teams representing more than 1200 dogs will go on the trails of the Haute-Maurienne Vanoise!
Finally, if you had to define the Lekkarod in 3 words?
Respect, friendliness and durability. And in addition a lot of happiness!
Jean-Louis Fortebrandi is one of the founders of the Lekkarod.
He is technical manager and relations with the mushers
For La Lekkarod, there are 50 volunteers who invest to make the competition big and beautiful.
Firefighters, veterinarians, photographers, employees, retirees, students …
Each brings his enthusiasm and his know-how for the pleasure of all.
There are the volunteers of the first hour, present from the beginning of the adventure in 2014. Among them, Tof, animator with a big heart. You will not be able to miss his motivating and catchy voice under the arch of departure and arrival!
The website of the FFST made his portrait last July, go quickly read it!
THANK YOU to everyone for your investment in this great adventure 🙂
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