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Very sad time for the Montcalm Challenge.

After the recent death of "Barbe", our Mr. Radio, Alain LEPLUS has just left us.

Alain was one of the creators of the Montcalm Challenge, present throughout the adventure alongside Bernard PIQUEMAL.

He was the soul of the Montcalm Challenge, its director for more than 20 years. For several years, he had taken over the position of the Montcalm lake with his faithful friend Gilbert CUMINETTI. Again, last year, despite illness, he really wanted to be present and has once again shown exceptional strength. In terrible weather conditions, he played his role perfectly, with great simplicity, great professionalism and strong values ​​of friendship despite an illness that was slowly winning the fight even if Alain was an exceptional fighter.


Always on our side to provide us with valuable advice, Alain strongly contributed to the survival of the Montcalm Challenge in 2015.

But beyond his involvement in the Montcalm Challenge and the cycling race l’Ariégeoise, Alain was above all the backbone of all development projects in the Auzat and Vicdessos Valley since 1989.

Director of the Community of Communes (former District), director of the Tourist Office, this great humanist was able to federate all the tourism stakeholders.

He was a visionary who strongly contributed to foster a closer relationship between the Tourist Offices of Tarascon and Auzat-Vicdessos. His professional skills and knowledge concerning tourism led him to assume responsibilities at national level at the federation of the Tourist Offices.

Then, he took the direction of the departmental tourism agency, an assignment that he could have occupied long before, but he had preferred to continue to get involved in his territory of the Vicdessos. Respected by his peers, listened to by the elected officials, his word was that of a wise man.

Alain was a good man, loyal, honest, visionary, deeply intelligent, attached to great values.

He has dedicated his whole life to his family, his friends and his work.

Alain was the kind of guy to drive with his car to Toulouse to get chemo in the morning and to be back at the office in the afternoon.

Alain had an incredible will. He fought the disease the same way he struggled all his life to defend his beliefs and the projects that were close to his heart.

Alain, we will miss you.

A big thought to all his family and more particularly to Nicole, Charlotte, Loren.

A very sad period for our association.

In his memory, Nahuel PASSERAT ran the PICaPICA race in its entirety. He will give us his impressions in the next newsletter.


Barbe, the Montcalm is crying since you have gone!

For more than 20 years you have worked backstage for the safety of the runners!

Here are the words you wrote to talk about your involvement in the Montcalm Challenge in the section “The hidden sides of the organization”.



Yves & Barbe photos



Bassiès lakes:

Very nice promotion campaign for the tourism in Ariège Pyrénées putting the spotlight on the Bassiès lakes. The PICaPICA runners will have the chance to discover the beauty of these lakes after 99 km running and 11055 m of positive altitude difference.

The refuge is already open so do not hesitate to enjoy it!







The official T-Shirt 2019 By TUGA Active Wear  :








Women's day:

On the occasion of Women's Day, we highlight all the women who participate in the Montcalm races whether they are runners or volunteers. In 2018 we are very proud to have 20% of the 1500 participants who were women with a breakdown that varies according to the races:

PICaPICA 7%, Marathon 11%, Novis trail 30%, Miners trail 41%, VK (Vertical Kilometer) 27%.


We did not do the math but the percentage is even higher among the 450 volunteers who make the success of our event.



Discover our history through the testimonials and anecdotes of some of the women who for many years have made the success of our races in the section "The hidden sides of the organization".


Status of registrations :


Registrations are going well for the 2019 edition. Indeed, we are approaching the 300 registrations.

More than half of the bibs available for PICaPICA have already found takers and the marathon enjoys a record craze with already more than 135 registered runners.

From a geographical point of view, 55 French departments and 9 different countries are already represented. Special mention to Russia (7 registrations) and Japan (4 registrations).



Flashback on the first 6 months of preparation :


Since September 2018, the Montcalm organizing team has actively been preparing the 30th anniversary of the Montcalm Challenge, which will take place from August 15 to 18, 2019.


Brief report on the hidden sides of the organization of such an event:


February 2019: Meeting with security actors.


Meetings with various rescue services are on the agenda to work on security.


January 2019: Confirmation of the financing of the event.

In January, the meetings continued with the confirmation of the funding from the State, the region, the department and the community of municipalities of the Haute Ariège.

A first newsletter was sent to all runners, volunteers, partners to tell them the story of the Montcalm.


December 2018: Connection with Andorra.

During December, a delegation went to Andorra to meet the representatives of the commune of Ordino. Indeed, the PICaPICA takes the Andorran roads on 13 kilometers. The municipality of Ordino, closely linked to  Auzat for decades, will give a part of La Coma Arcalis  restaurant, in Vallnord ski resort to create a very comfortable food supply point for the runners.



The organization team with Gemma Riba, Consol menor of the city of Ordino.

On this occasion, the organization gave an award to Gemma Riba, Consol menor of the City of Ordino, to thank the city for its support. Another trophy was awarded to the municipality of La Massana and its natural park Comapedrosa which is the other commune crossed by the PICaPICA race.


rencontre AUTV


A working meal was also on the agenda with the organizers of the Andorra Ultra trail who have been organizing for 11 years one of the most beautiful trail events in the Pyrenees. On the agenda, many very constructive exchanges on both events and, perhaps, the establishment of a common project. To be continued!


November 2018: The ramp up.

November was dedicated to creating tools to manage the volunteers, to centralize files, to update data and to define the 2019 Organizational Chart.



The setting up of a partnership with the “Cyclosportive L'Ariégeoise” has also allowed the creation of a shared job and the launch of a reflection on the various communication media within the framework of a local support system. This action was very rewarding and allowed the organizers of Montcalm to better program and target their communication actions.


October 2018: Contact making.

In October, we contacted the sponsors and updated our Website.

The Raidlight company, a French specialist in trail equipment, will be Montcalm's new partner.


Raidlight will offer a quality fleece jacket “finisher” for PICaPICA competitors who will overcome this mountain ultra-trail.

For the record, Benoit LAVAL, the creator of Raidlight, participated in the Montcalm race when the start was still in Marc's chapel. He has kept an excellent memory of this race and of the quality of the organization. It is therefore quite natural that he has agreed to support us for the 30th anniversary of this event in Ariège.


September 2018: Launch of the organization.

The first preparations began in September 2018 with the definition of dates and different races. It was at this point that the decision to redo PICaPICA was made. 




The wishes of the president Mr Gilles DENJEAN :

I take the opportunity of this new year to simply wish you a happy new year 2019. Health, happiness, success, sport and a lot of fun will hopefully be in the program in 2019 as well as

a good training for 30th edition of Montcalm races from August 15 to 18, 2019.

 Gilles DENJEAN au sommet du Montcalm

The safety, the friendliness, the respect and the welcome of the runners and of their families, the quality of the race, of the supply points, of the marking are at the heart of our concerns to ensure the success of this event. It is "the spirit Montcalm "carried by more than 400 volunteers. But we also give a social dimension to our event by integrating people with disabilities into our organization. Our involvement in respecting the environment through our membership in “Trail Runner Foundation” is another of our priorities.


This event is very important for our valley with significant economic impact for a small village of 500 inhabitants which welcomes three times more runners. This is a great showcase and we are proud to introduce you to our mountains, even if they do not belong to us.


Throughout the year, through the Newsletter, we will tell you about this fabulous adventure initiated by Bernard Piquemal, Alain Leplus, Claude Pauly and Jacques Soulié in 1990 when trail running was almost non-existent.


Since 2015, I took the presidency of the association CAP Montcalm so that this event continues. It will be my 25th consecutive edition of Montcalm and with my great "army" of volunteers, I will make every effort to give you good time and provide you memorable moments.


Montcalm is particularly close to my heart because it represents values ​​of solidarity, a state of mind and a big family that lives great moments throughout the year.

 Gilles DENJEAN au  Montcalm

I have climbed this summit many times, but I keep special memories of the first ascent with my dad. It was a real adventure, we had to leave very early in the morning, the refuge of the Pinet did not exist yet, we went up by Pla Subra, by the “canalette” and then the descent by the Pinet. The path was not marked as it is today, it was more difficult. The equipment was also quite different. It was heavier, the leather mountain shoes might weigh nearly 2 kg, gaiters, a spare shirt, jackets, a soft flask, cooked pork meats, some cheese, a camping stove for the coffee, some Ricard and a booze at the bottom of the bag. It was another way to climb this summit but the passion was the same. Anyway, he knew how to transmit me his passion of the mountain and especially he taught me to always show humility towards the mountain and to respect it. In the same way, each first ascent to the summit with Mathilde, Hugo and Théo are imperishable memories.


My best memories of the Montcalm races are essentially moments spent with the volunteers before the event and especially the first very boozy evenings during the mountain festival. On the sporting side, I will mainly remember the victories of Michel Rabat and Stéphanie Jimenez for the Skyrunning French Championship, Michel Lannes' record in the very special edition of 2015 and the Skyrunning World Cup Round. But the strongest are all the friendly meetings with mountain enthusiasts, top athletes, Montcalm faithful runners, volunteers that I meet once a year and people of very different horizons whom I ask for support in my various and varied organizational tasks. Without these supports, these friends, this knowledge, we would not have been able to offer you a new type of event: a Mountain Ultra Trail, the PICaPICA and its unique rate of positive altitude increase per kilometer. We hope in 2019 a milder weather than in 2018 in order to see trail runners finish the race.

 A very big THANK YOU to my family, to all the volunteers and all our partners from the smallest to the biggest who are making great efforts to support us. Without them, these races could not exist. You will find them throughout the year in the history of Montcalm.



G. DENJEAN, President.