People Inside #1 - Boogie Events

Every month through an interview, we will introduce you the portrait of one of our members actif in the trail-running development.

ITRA : Today we are welcoming Sonja Gottlebe, director of Boogie Events (steering organisation for Racing Madagascar). We are delighted to be launching this first number of “People Inside” with you, can you present this race to us?

Boogie Events : Thank you for welcoming us and giving the floor to a Madagascan organisation. We have been a Tour Operator on the island for very nearly 30 years with our company Boogie Pilgrim and we have recently created our subsidiary which specializes in adventure and sports tourism : Boogie Events. The official launch will be during the first half of 2016 and will offer all  adventure activities on the immense “playground” which is Madagascar. In parallel, Boogie Events is launching its own sporting event : Racing Madagascar, in July 2016.

ITRA : How did you come to position yourselves in the domain of trail-running and become the Racing Madagascar Organizers, one of the next key running events of the island? 

BE : The idea for Racing Madagascar came to us due to past experience of organizing previous sporting events. In the past, Boogie Pilgrim was chosen to be in charge of logistics for several large-scale international events: Raids Gauloises in 1993, 1996 and more recently Racing The Planet in 2014. We were very inspired by these race formats which lead to the creation of  our own event : Racing Madagascar. It is a race in stages with a distance of 165km  over 6 days. It will take place between July 19th &  24th 2016 at the North of the island of  Madagascar, in the region of Diego Suarez. The race will be centered on 3 strong components: competitiveness, discovery of the region and support for solidarity and sustainable development for the region.

RACING MADAGASCAR – From 19th to 24th July 2016

ITRA : The diversification of the organisations makes trail-running attractive. Either trail-running clubs, private sports events, organizers, tourist offices or tour operators, each brings their own know-how but what distinguishes you from the others?

BE : We have observed a rising trend at the world level: The association between the world of competitive sport and the touristic and discovery dimension. In English, one talks of  « Trail-travel ». As a tour operator with significant experience, we bring a knowledge over and above the simple organisation of a race. Whether it be in terms of atypical accommodation, an excellent knowledge of the countryside, or even very fine tuned logistics. Our knowledge of the country allows us to bring to this race, crossing very varied landscapes, another way of looking at the island: paddy fields, villages, beaches of fine sand, national parks... We also offer accompanying persons a well “crafted” plan for following runners along the route. Supporters will accompany their runners at the camps and share the ambiance and meals. They will also have a complete day-long programme to visit the national parks for which Madagascar is so well known. Extensions to the trip are also possible before, or after the race, both leisure and sport (sailing, Kitesurfing, mountain biking...) as well discovery or cultural activities.

Racing Madagascar

ITRA : Beyond your race, for which we wish your great success, how is sport and in particular trail-running developing in Madagascar ?

BE : If  “traditional” tourism is orientated on the exceptional flora and fauna is well developed on the island, there is a potential which is still unexploited. We regularly attend international travel shows and very often people interrogate us about the sporting possibility in Madagascar. The country is incontestably an ideal ground for nautical activities. As an example, Diego Suarez (Capital of the region of Diana) is an area which is renowned world-wide among kite-surfing enthusiasts! The topography of the island is also ideal for mountain biking and hiking. As far as trail-running is concerned in Madagascar, the trend has emerged through the impulse of several local enthusiasts. The most concrete example is the annual UTOP (Ultra Trail des O Plateaux) held in the centre of the island. This race is very popular with those from Reunion and the Diagonale des Fous and attracts more and more participants each year. Our aim at Racing Madagascar and Boogie Events is to allow people discover the destination in another way, because it has all the potential .

ITRA : What is your role in the development of sport in Madagascar ?

BE : Our engagement is above all centered on Disabled Sports in Madagascar. Actually, Patrice Raoull, our Project Manager at Boogie Events, has been involved for a long time. He participated in the creation of the Madagascan Paralympic Federation and is at present honorary president. Also, we support Indian Ocean disabled sports competitions when they take place at  Antananarivo (Madagascan capital, editor's note).  Racing Madagascar donates 50 euros per registration to the Diana region's Paralympic committee, which is where the race takes place. In parallel, the arrival of a new type of tourism for Madagascar, orientated « Outdoor-Adventure », will allow the local populations to both get to know the disciplines better and give them a chance to practice these sports. Boogie Events aims   : To help Madagascar both be known in the world of the international sport and to know about the largest number these sports at the local level. This will also help to promote Madagascan sports-people such as Dino Houlder (2015 winner of the cycle tour of Madagascar) and open up paths for sponsoring, which is indispensable in helping their careers take off. Actually there are numerous Madagascan champions in several disciplines: Pétanque, Beach Soccer, Athletics, Taekwondo… We all benefit from their popularity when we talk about Madagascar as  a sports destination!

ITRA : A final word about the race. We remember that it will take place July 19th to 24th 2016, what is your sporting policy?

BE : We have opted for a race of an average distance (around 25km per day and 45km for the longest stage) to open up the race to the largest number possible. Each stage, with the exception of the longest, will take place in semi-autonomy. There will be, therefore, just one water refreshment point mid-route. Otherwise, the organisation is occupied with the transfer of personal effects from one stage to another so that the runners only carry their daily requirements for the race. The route is rather “undulating” and passes through several exceptional areas  (The famous limestone formations « Tsingy »,  Sakalava bay, the Montagne de Français...). We apply a single pricing policy for all runners, which allows us to maintain a quality organisation: our priority.

ITRA : A word about the staff during the race ?

BE : Patrice Raoull, of whom we spoke previously, will be the coordinator for the medical section. He has a physiotherapist's training from Rennes University and as a sports physiotherapist with INK, Paris, and has been practicing for 30 years. With his team he frequently assists  sporting organisations with their events. Vivi Razaka, has worked with us for 20 years and is an experienced guide who will unravel any problems during the race and coordinate the local teams. Pierre Béguin is our « security technician » in the world of trail-running with several organisations of the Raids Gauloises and Racing the Planet across the world. He will be our race director. Remy Vanhoolant is taking charge of logistics. He is a specialist of the Diana region with Laurent Fils (Assistant race director). They are all the contacts on he ground who will assure the good running of the race. We will also be assisted by a team of villagers from the region, who will be, by our good will, paid.  Actually, there will be no volunteers in Racing Madagascar. Our conviction is that before creating enthusiasts who are ready to give their time freely, in these back of beyond areas of Madagascar , it is first necessary to raise immediate interest within the population: Sport as a lever for development. As for me, I plan to use my, very soon, 30 years of tourism in Madagascar. I had to deal with all sorts of situations and the longevity of my company testifies, I imagine, that I have the capacity to manage them! The message to deliver to the runners is : « come to Madagascar, practice your passion in complete safety supervised by professionals ! ». In summary, the race of a lifetime !

Thank-you for having shared the passion for your island and sport, we are making a rendezvous with all runners to participate or follow "Racing Madagascar" organized by Boogie Events.

For more information about the race : here

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