Raid du Centaure 2024

2024 Raid du Centaure: a look back at the event in Catalonia and interviews of the winners!

From March 8 to 10, 2024, 47 riders from Germany, Spain, France, Great Britain and the Netherlands competed with their horse, as individuals, pairs or teams, on the legendary Raid du Centaure.

This year, it was organized by the Olost Equestrian club and the municipality of Prats de Lluçanès in Spain, under the aegis of the FITE. A real challenge to organize a Raid du Centaure 7 months after the 2023 edition in Alsace.

The 100-kilometer course, spread over two nights of 60 and 40 kilometers, combined with weather worthy of a Raid du Centaure and a challenging route, test the participants severely. " The landscapes are typical of the pre-Pyrenees at an altitude of around 700 m. In Catalonia we suffer a period of drought of consecutive months. Well, it rained for the Centaur the first night and the whole second day. It made it difficult to get to the control points, variations in the route due to the flooding of the streams and participants and horses suffered the hours of rain. " explains Quim Luz, member of the Organizing Committee.

Read the interviews with Amanti MULLER (individual winner), Jean DE CHATILLON and Pierre FRONTY (pair) and Francesc RABAT (second place in individual), about their preparation, their feelings, their anecdotes about this Raid du Centaure 2024.

Raid du Centaure: taking part

Amanti, this is the first time you've taken part in this event. We're familiar with your TREC performances, including a team gold and individual bronze medal at the TREC World Championships in 2022: how did you get the idea to embark on this adventure?

A.Muller:Since I've been practising TREC, a lot of people have been talking to me about it. I had some fairs, especially about the physical side of my horse and myself. This year, the Centaure was taking place not far from where I live, and a breeder of endurance horses offered me a horse suitable for this kind of challenge. So it was an opportunity to take part."

For Jean de Châtillon, winner of the Raid du Centaure as a duo with Pierre Fronty, the situation was different. Pierre Fronty, an equestrian hiker, had already taken part in the Centaure as a volunteer, but never as a rider. Jean De Châtillon, on the other hand, has won several editions of the Raid du Centaure.

Jean, it's been several years since you took part in the Centaure as a rider, and you were always behind the scenes with the organization: what made you want to try the adventure on horseback again?

J.De Châtillon: "For several reasons: firstly, because the 2023 edition in Alsace was very nice, and secondly, I think that at the age of 64, I was still technically in a good enough shape to do another race without looking ridiculous. The last reason is that I'm in a sporting scheme this year which includes the Centaure on the one hand and the Iron Horse Andalucia on the other, which is a 500 km endurance race over 7 days at the beginning of May."
For Pierre Fronty, his participation was above all a combination of circumstances and a friendship with Jean.

Why did you decide to take part as a pair?

J.De Châtillon: "I won a dozen Centaures, most of them individually and 4 in pairs (with Luc Schaller, Amélie Van de Woestyne, Léon Lenz and this one with Pierre Fronty), and each time I've enjoyed it differently, and my partner has always been a major contributor to our victory. As the years go by, counting and measuring every night, on my own, is a little too demanding on both my attention and my eyesight, so when you're two, you talk, sometimes neglecting precision, but you make progress."

P.Fronty: "The fact that we are two makes the work easier. You can talk about your doubts, reassure yourself and rely on your partner. It's not as hard as being alone."

Raid du Centaure: the horses and preparation

Can you tell us more about the horses you used to ride?

A.Muller: I took part in the 2024 Raid du Centaure with an endurance horse who grew up in the Pyrenees. The horse's physical and mental qualities are essential. Right from the start, I knew I could trust him. He managed the terrain on his own. He managed his pace according to the terrain on his own."

J.De Châtillon : "Pierre and I rode two endurance mares. Grisor and Belaia de Sommant, which I bred. The two mares get along perfectly. They're preparing for a long-distance event and are prepared for endurance events on a daily basis. Above all, it was important that once the horses were working well together, Pierre and I could work well together as a team to face this event. Pierre is a friend and we worked well together."

P.Fronty: "The mares we rode were trained for trail riding, and in very good shape. They have a strong mentality and are willing to continue, even in difficult weather conditions."

How did you prepare for this event?

F.Rabat: "This was my fifth participation in the Raid du Centaure. I prepared myself around Barcelona. I made regular outings and worked on foot with my horse."

A.Muller: "I made several night outings, in particular to test the technical equipment and get used to using the orientation tools at night. I also changed my sleeping habits a few weeks before the Centaure. "

P.Fronty: " We've done a few outings, including some night outings together, to get ready."

Is the preparation of a POR for TREC competitions different from that for the Raid du Centaure?

J.De Châtillon: " Yes, it's very different. TREC is an organized, regulated competition, with competition spread throughout the year. The Centaure is first and foremost an equestrian adventure that appeals solely to personal sporting satisfaction. The Centaure rules and the fact that it's only one event a year mean that you can set up a project, a dream, with some fears, and make it a success.

Winning a Centaure means first of all finishing it. On a Centaure, solidarity between competitors is not an empty word or a thought, it's a reality."

What skills do you think are essential for a successful Raid du Centaure?

J.De Châtillon : "First of all, you need to have a sufficient level of orientation to make progress without over using your horse. You also need to know how to prepare your horse for this type of effort. The basic rule is: keep moving, keep moving. Contrary to what many riders think, it's much easier to steer on slightly sustained paces. And then, before you think about winning, you have to manage to finish, and not get formal about the few failures and penalties taken."

P.Fronty: "You have to be mentally fit and used to long outings on horseback. We spent almost 12 hours on horseback. You have to be physically ready. You have to have willing horses in good condition and a strong mind.
The key word is to participate and finish. To finish is to win."

F.Rabat: "Riders who take part in the Centaure are, or should be, mountain experts. Orienteering skills depend on the rider, but to take part I think you have to be tough, a bit naive, know the mountains and be good with a compass. To do a Centaure again, you need to be a bit crazy. In a race as long and difficult as the Centaure, anything can happen, even if you're well prepared. You have to know how to deal with frustration."

A.Muller: " Technical equipment, physical preparation. The right spirit and be humble. These are skills we develop in TREC in particular."

Raid du Centaure: the challenge

What difficulties did you encounter along the way?

A.Muller: " The route was sometimes very technical. The first night we walked in torrential rain. On the second night, the terrain was difficult, with numerous technical areas for the horse and intense fog that made it difficult to orientate and get your bearings. Add to that the fatigue, and it's hard to stay focused for such a long time in such difficult conditions. I've learned to give my brain periods of rest, so that I'm ready when I run into difficulties. This is already something you do when you're on a classic TREC POR and you're out for 7 or 8 hours. On the Centaure, everything is multiplied tenfold."

F.Rabat: "My horse can only see with one eye, so when there's a difficult stage, you have to be very sure of yourself. This edition of the Centaure wasn't the most difficult, but the rain didn't make it easy."

P.Fronty: " The principle of the Centaure is the accumulation of difficulties: terrain, weather, physical, fatigue. The first night we set off at a quarter to one and finished at around 10 in the morning. We had 5 to 6 hours of driving rain, and the terrain was deteriorating. There isn't one difficulty that's more important than the other; it's the accumulation of all these difficulties that makes the Centaure and the challenge. The route isn't easy, and the checkpoints are always a bit complicated. And the fatigue."

Raid du Centaure: why take up the challenge? 

What were some of your highlights?

A.Muller: " The finish lines, on both loops, were very powerful moments, when I was happy to have arrived. Also during the course, there were moments when I found myself all alone on a ridge, alone in the world. It's a unique experience.
The satisfaction of going all the way is immense. It's even more important than the victory itself. Going to the end of yourself, of your limits, dealing with fatigue, the weather... It's an extraordinary event."

Here's an anecdote from Qium Luz (organizer): " At the stage 3 checkpoint on the first evening, the first rider to pass was Amanti Muller, who was very calm. The second rider passed after an hour. Amanti controlled the whole race from the very first minute. ".

J.De Châtillon: "The highlights were meeting up with the other riders, especially on the second night, because on the first night we had dropped from 22nd to 2nd place, so we were quickly isolated. On the second night, we rode with a pair of forest riders and Amanti, which was cool and relaxing, and our horses were full of energy."

P.Fronty: " Nous avons eu de superbes moments. Quand la pluie s’est arrêtée, avec de très beaux paysages, la lueur portée par le givre sur la végétation. Les fins d’étape et de parcours aussi sont des moments forts, par exemple lorsqu’on s’est aperçus que nous étions bien classés à la fin de la première nuit. L’euphorie du dernier trotting, quand on a vu qu’on était bien classé et devant.
Le Centaure is unique, unexpected and unmissable. A story of sharing.
We did a few stretches of road with other teams and riders. There were times when it wasn't easy to find the right itinerary, with several groups looking for the same route. It's about sharing the difficulty of the moment. "

Were you able to share moments with other riders?

A.Muller: "On the first night I was on my own, but on the second night I did a few sections with Jean De Châtillon and Pierre Fronty. It was very interesting to share this time with a legend of the Centaure and TREC (Jean De Châtillon), to be able to see how it works."

If you had to name just one memory from this 2024 edition?

F.Rabat: "My memory of this year is the good organization, it was spectacular and the course was very beautiful."

A.Muller: "At the end of the second night, between 5 and 6 in the morning, I had just finished a very technical section, where the fog was intense, I couldn't see anything, I was alone. I had to get over it and get out of that section. To find myself on the easy part just before the finish line and to say to myself that I had made it to the end. It was really satisfying.

P.Fronty: " The special spirit of the Centaure that brings people together to share an extraordinary experience. The special adventurer mentality. It's good to see people getting together to take part in this adventure. I'd like to thank the organization, with its willing and friendly people. Also, the satisfaction of having taken part in this adventure with Jean and wonderful horses."

J.De Châtillon: "A downhill run in a dense, steeply sloping forest, where we found our way without any problems, resulting in about twenty lonely participants.

What would you say to hikers and TREC riders who haven't yet taken part in this event?

A.Muller: "Go for it, it's really worth it. You come out stronger mentally and technically. You learn to orient yourself in a different way. And the satisfaction of making it to the end is so intense that it's worth it. "

— Find the complete results

Congratulations to all the horses, riders, volunteers, organizers and partners (Prats de Lluçanès Council Town, Olost Hípic Club, Consorci del Lluçanès, Catalan Equestrian Federation, Amac).

Thanks to Amanti, Francesc, Jean, Pierre and Quim for their answers.

See you in 2025

Mark your calendars: the 2025 Raid du Centaure will take place in Gorre (87), France (more information to come).


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