High Altitude Madness

Nicolas Privet. Photo by Nick Ross

Nicolas Privet is running to raise money for a cause — Les Enfants du Dragon


At the risk of sounding cynical, at any given moment there’s a bunch of charity runs and bike rides happening around the country. Barely a week goes by when we’re not being asked to save the world by taking part in some form of strenuous exercise.


This makes standing out for your charity dollar tough, and this means the lengths you might have to go to could get extreme — like high-altitude ultra-marathon extreme. This is exactly the case for Nicolas Privet, whose call for donations I came across on the Facebook page: Running, Swimming, Biking and more in Saigon. He’s the one putting the ‘more’ into it, and making us mere mortals feel a bit sad. Just when you're feeling happy with your 100km bike and 20km run week, he cranks out 250 plus 60km worth of intense trail. It can get embarrassing.


Good Cause


But it’s all with good reason. On Oct. 22, Nicolas will complete a 163km mountain ‘run’ including 10,000m worth of elevation gain in the French principality of La Reunion, a tiny island in the Indian Ocean between Madagascar and Mauritius. Nicolas expects that this epic feat will take him 48 hours to complete, and it’s known as La Diagonale des Fous. A bunch of wacky funsters who call this type of torture ‘sport’ have been doing the run for the past 15 years.


“I’ll sleep in 15-minute increments along the way,” Nicolas tells me. “It’s common for people to start hallucinating during this event, so it’s important to rest.”


Oh. My. God.


I ask him what motivates him to do this.


After growing up in the French Alps and then moving to Vietnam 10 years ago, it turns out he missed the fresh air. So after seven years of not doing anything, the last three have seen him make a pretty strong comeback. But it’s something else that really keeps him going.


“My family sacrifices a lot so that I can train for this type of event,” he says. “So whenever I compete, I promise my daughter the finisher’s medal, and I keep a photo of her with me. That way I don’t forget I have to get it to her.”


For The Kids


As if there could be anything more important than that, for this event, Nicolas is raising money for a charity close to his heart: Les Enfants du Dragon. Around officially since 2009, the charity has been supporting children and families in need, particularly those affected by homelessness and severe poverty. It’s a fantastic cause, and funds raised from Nicolas’s effort will go towards the construction of an orphanage in Long An Province, as well as the distribution of bicycles to kids who can’t afford them.


After 12 months of solid preparation, Nicolas’s first significant test sees him take on the Vietnam Mountain Marathon in Sapa on Sep. 26. After that it will be about winding back a little, and trying to keep his mind and body in good condition.


While he’s thankful to his gold sponsor Salomon Vietnam, as well as Ruby Soho in District 7 and Fresh Studio, he’s always looking for more to complete his goal of raising US$3,000 (VND67.5 million).


Good luck Nicolas. Don’t fall asleep half way! 


You can subscribe to Nicolas’s newsletter and donate directly to his cause via Check out the work of his chosen charity at Nicolas is also holding a fundraising event on Friday Oct. 2 at Ruby Soho Saigon (S52-1, Pham Van Nghi, Sky Garden 2, Q7, HCMC) with live music from well-known singer, Matthew Duvall.

Nicolas Privet. Photo by Nick Ross

Last modified onThursday, 17 September 2015 19:13

1 comment

  • Rémi
    Rémi Thursday, 17 September 2015 03:54 Comment Link

    What a great challenge...! and a great cause !!!

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