Most Vert in a Day: Jean-François Cauchon Tries for the Record

‘Cauchon: Answers from the Woods’ is the latest pandemic running film to debut in 2020, featuring ultrarunner Jean-François Cauchon.

“In terms of races, 2020 will be a season to forget.” 2020 was an unprecedented year for racing and athletics in general. In the midst of a pandemic, with races dropping like flies, Canadian ultrarunner Jean-François Cauchon set his sights on a new challenge.

In this film, Cauchon tries to break the record of most elevation gained (on foot) in 24 hours. But to do that, he needs a segment of trail short and steep enough to be able to come close to the record — 17,000 m. That’s the vert equivalent of climbing Mt. Everest almost twice in 24 hours.

“This is a rare opportunity to see the neverending trail that is inside the mind of an ultrarunner,” teased HOLOS, the production company.

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“If [I hit] the 17,000 meters, it’s going to be taxing a lot on the legs,” said Cauchon in anticipation in the film. Cauchon chose a section of the Mont-Saint-Anne in Quebec, with a crazy pitch and lots of climbing. The plan? Run straight up the steepest pitch, then run down a connected hiking trail, making a loop. And he’ll need to do 52 laps to break the record.

Just like many ultrarunners, Cauchon talks about race mentality, preparation, hallucinations, and more in his attempt. The film follows him before, during, and after the effort, from daybreak to well into nightfall.

“No one is going to tell you what your own limit is. It’s up to you to find it,” Cauchon said.

Cauchon is the No. 1 ranked ultrarunner in Canada, according to the ITRA. He’s won two Ultra-Trail Harricanas, two TransMartinique races, and competed in other notable races including the UTMB.

“Cauchon: Answers from the Woods” was produced by HOLOS. This is HOLOS’ first docu-film.

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Mary Murphy

Mary is the Managing Editor of GearJunkie and is based in GearJunkie's Denver, Colo. office. She has a degree in English and journalism, and has a background in both newspaper and magazine writing. Her outdoor interests span from running to sport climbing, from landscape photography to skiing to pack-paddleboarding. If she's not writing, you can most likely find her at the top of a fourteener, or in a local bakery.

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