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In front of the multiplicity of sports activities of Baudouin Rossius who ensured the Vice-Presidency of the UAF, responsible for the march from 1992 to 2005, one can only be admired.
In 31 years alone, sixty golden eagles walking and twenty golden eagles swimming, have been to his credit . He also has patents and cycle tours. Always carried out under the sign of the Union des Audax Français, the 144,321 kilometers totaled include free, audax, many routes traveled with Henri Legrand or alone, in an archaic way, since on foot. I am not forgetting of course Jean-Gilles Boussiquet with whom he joined Timbuktu to Pont l'Abbé d'Arnout in 1989; an adventure of 3,800 km. I will come back to this later. By themselves, the 850 distances of 100 km and more (audax and free), are sufficient for homologation by the Guiness Book of Records.
At the 50 km UAF in Livry-Gargan, on August 15, 2009, Baudouin gave me his "prize list", although he did not like that word. I had asked him several times, with a view to publishing it in our review. This beautiful proof of friendship that he shows me really touches me. What a pleasure ! Finally ! I own the nugget. Many thanks. Following his path, what he has achieved is breathtaking and deserves to be known by all.
Uninterrupted series of dates. Tens of thousands of kilometers stretch over four pages.
- Baudouin started walking with the RIF (Randonneurs d'Ile de France - Paris) on November 27, 1977. He was forty seven years old. Until 1982, he will cover 4,570 kilometers with this club affiliated to the FFRP. He then discovers the so-called “free” walks, which are more sporty, and throws himself into them. Paris-Mantes from 1978 to 1981, 1980: the 100 km of Millau, Migennes. 1986 the 100 km of Volgelgrun (B) in 14:01, the 100 km of Steenverck (1987, 1994 and 1998) that he will do systematically before starting the 200 km Euraudax starting the next day at dawn. Then the 100 km from Chatelet (B). Then, it will continue with the 150 km of Europe - Nancy Strasbourg in the years 1987, 1990 and 1991. Houffalize-Plombières (B) 110 km; the 142 km from Bossée (Indre-et-Loire) and other distances.
In March 1981, these tests were not enough for him. He goes towards the audax march, without limit. No star. Everyone is on an equal footing. We all enjoy the same. It was up to everyone to try their hand at a distance that they did not believe they could handle. Once launched, we never stop. This is his principle that he will endeavor to follow faithfully. It quickly emerged as indispensable. The clubs would have almost quarreled, delighted to see the best participate in their card. At the 200 km of Vernon, his 23rd, on May 23, 2009, his face radiated with happiness, he obtained his 60th golden eagle. This time, he feels he has achieved his goal. What he had said to Louillard, in the 50th, in 2005. His ten additional eagles are a bonus.
A march is never won in advance; but I, who did not ask myself a question, had no complaints. I think I have a strength and a natural fighting spirit in me. If I sometimes bowed down, I never gave in. Now, looking back, I tell myself that I couldn't go higher! We can call that passion linked especially to endurance. But that's what I wanted. All or nothing. The pleasure of sharing this way of life with all my walking friends does not make me regret anything. If I had to do it again, I would once again occupy a special place in the Union des Audax Français.
- One foot in the free, the other in the audax walk, it stands out with the bike. But this discipline was not his "thing", he admits. He only participated in a 100 km audax and a 200 km patent. He prefers treks of or - long duration. Taste the freshness of the morning, the calm of the evening, touch the clouds, discover the rooftops so close, from town to village, as you wish ... From September 7 to 13, 1981: his 813 km Paris - Marseille excursion brings all this to the city. times. In 1986, on vacation, his bike as beautiful as a truck under his arm, he took the train to Cologne (Germany) with the intention of tasting Belgian pedestrian audaxes. On August 9, thus, he made the 25 km of Charles and Yvette Krings. Volage pedal strokes. Verviers, capital of beer dear to Jacky Servais, is at its feet. The Belgian wind does not make him melancholy (Alain Souchon). Luxembourg, Germany. He takes part in the 150 km (or thirty hours) of Dillingen under the leadership of the Italian Bruno Marcon on the 16th and 17th. Tireless, cut in an indestructible rock, he will descend to Paris, at 620 km, via Metz (by bike), the next day. In August 1987, he ran away from Mont St-Michel (310 km) followed by a 25 km walk in Grâce-Uzel.
- His swimming counter stops at 20 golden eagles. Reminder of the extract from the Audax swimmers patent regulations: the golden eagle rewards the holder of the certificates for 1, 2, 3, 4 and 6 km completed within the respective deadlines of 0H35, 1H10, 1H45, 2H20 and 3h30. With a total of 105 patents, or five more (4 of 6 km and 1 of 2 km), Baudouin has therefore completed 346 kilometers by swimming.
As long as there is no water in a swimming pool, you can still pretend you can swim. This is not the case, as long as the water is there. Incredibly reserved, who would imagine such energy? It's simple, on Monday, he wakes up swimming, telling himself that he has sufficiently recovered from his efforts produced on weekends while walking. The very idea of wisdom does not seem to concern him.
- Very quickly, he felt his passion grow for great expeditions. It's very strong. From 1982, he included in his calendar, arrows and long hikes. Audax is a magnificent school. Let's walk dear friends, let's walk. The time that eludes us invites us to do so. Let's enjoy life as much as we can.
He goes on journeys, while continuing in the meantime, long distance audaxes, as well as swimming. From 5 to 9.09.1982 Paris-London: 270 km. 22 to 26.08.1983 St-Turquoit-Suze la Rousse (tour of the Côtes du Rhône): 290 km. 15 to 23 July 1985 Paris-Verviers (B): 430 km. 1st to 8.5.1986 Paris-Colmar: 520 km. 17 to 21 July 1986 Flèche des Abbeys (B): 310 km. 1st to 5.11.1986 Tongres-Verviers: 281 km. 26 to 31.12.1986 Grenoble-St-Cezaire / Siagne (Alpes Maritimes): 303 km. 29.06 to 3.07.1987 Nancy-Auderghem (B): 331 km. 20 to 23.05.1988 the great classic Paris-Tubize (B): 285 km.
Then, his dreams open up to the Sahara. The obsession of his life. From January 8 to March 25, 89, ie 3,800 km in two and a half months of walking, Baudouin follows in the footsteps of René Caillié.
As Jean-Marie Burton reported at the time in the review: One day, Baudouin heard about Jean-Gilles Boussiquet, world champion in the long distance running of the 80s and 90s, 24-hour record holder with 272.642 km in 1981, seeks a companion to make the reverse journey of René Caillé. The photo of Joël Leroy, a witness who met them Balise 25, is published on this occasion. In fact, Jean-Gilles was to declare, Caillé had taken further east. But it was impossible to follow this route on foot.
Thus, their journey will extend from Timbuktu, a sort of triangle containing seven mosques, through Mali, Algeria, including the formidable desert of Tanezrouft, Tafiladet, through the Atlas passes to Morocco (Tangier) to 'at Pont L'Abbé d'Arnoult near Saintes. It is in this village that rests the Second European who managed to enter the mysterious city of Timbuktu and to come back (April 28, 1828). The English Major Laing who had preceded him was assassinated on his departure. The intellectual capital of Islam is regularly visited by caravans from the Maghreb, transporting salt, an essential resource, in both directions.
The life of the desert: the camel caravans of the Tuaregs, the precious camel milk that makes you regain your strength, the heat of the day and the cold at night, the food seasoned with sand, the rhythmic sound of footsteps on the sand ... This great nomadic adventure saw its success in a great time.
Backpack, they pull a cart of supplies bought from merchants, when there is! This, the tires out of use, later will have to be abandoned. Without GPS, or satellite phone, rare wells that should not be missed, the crossing of Tanezrouft (Land of thirst), horrible desert of black pebbles, is trying. The water sometimes so bitter, undrinkable, stopping its thirst to breathe freely. He slept under the stars on the sand, not unfolding his camper tent. Upon awakening, scorpion, snake… have left their marks on the sand. After having passed the worst, admiring the desert with its fabulous harmonious dunes, he lived with the feeling of disconnecting from reality, without anguish, escaping the wind of "sand" which misleads the intruder.
He doesn't know boredom. Again attracted by Belgium, the same year, he quickly made the tour between October 7 and 20, 1989 (860 km). 1990: Temse-Diest (270 km) and Roubaix-Verviers (310 km) are surveyed. On site, he takes part in Belgian Euraudax marches. Double reward. This practice, which has since been taken over by the daring, fully satisfies his appetites. When he retired, he multiplied the number of town to town, each time managing to be at the start of a 100 or 150 km patent. From 8 to 12.04.1991 Livry-Gargan-Nancy: 330 km. Round trip Paris-Guéret (Creuse) from 04.22 to 04.05.1991, an arrow of 705 km.
We want to change everything, but above all, we want to continue living as before. So, as we are all going to die… Animated by a spiritual call, on July 25, 1992, he set out on a pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela. To the 1583 km, it adds 337 km, descending to Our Lady of Fatima (Portugal) which it reaches on August 29.
1993, with an unfailing courage, apart from the weekly audax walks that he grants himself in all serenity, from July 5 to 9, he swallows Nassigny (Allier) - Panissières (Loire): 284 km. And from December 6 to 27 Paris-Brest-Paris (1261 km); the go with Marie-Claude Chirat, the return with Henri Legrand with whom he traveled a lot.
1994: from December 14 to 29, Paris-St-Cézaire sur Siagne (halfway between the beaches and the ski resorts of the Côte d'Azur): 870 km.
2000: the millennium. It is obvious, the nomadic life attracts Baudouin. No sooner had he returned from Ispra (Italy) on July 14, a journey of 860 km, that he no longer mastered his impatience to realize his dream of going to Jerusalem on foot. On September 11, 2000, ready to overcome the toughest trials, well prepared physically and mentally, he left for Paris, his starting point. It is not the sporting feat that he seeks but rather the need to satisfy an inner quest, the desire to discover the unknown, other cultures, to exchange points of view with Omar, Mohamed, Assam. … Its exploration takes place normally until the approach of Christmas. He never wonders if he's going to hold on and gives it his all. The risk (of which he has the taste) of being harassed by brigands does not cross his mind. In Rome, he has the extreme privilege of seeing Pope John Paul II. Slanting to the east, the outline of the Aegean Sea, sung for its sunny islands, its cloudless shores, makes it cross Greece and enter Turkey. Dream landscapes praised since antiquity. It was very beautiful ! Alas, injured by a car, returned to Istanbul, his repatriation by air is essential. Its odometer records 3,243 km
Continuing his frantic race, on 4.12.2006, he left for Ethiopia. A mountainous country unlike any other. At more than 2,500 meters above sea level, struggling with steep paths, he will walk until December 22, covering 300 km. Leaving Addis Ababa where, in 1910, the great explorer Wilfred Thésiger was born, the first who managed to enter Arabia clandestinely, still unknown to Westerners barely more than half a century ago, he sets his feet in Mékélé. He marvels at the Highlands. The warm welcome of the population mainly mixing Abyssinians and Oromo, poor, but very rich inside, enthusiasm. An intense happiness monopolizes him, as during each of his expeditions to North Africa. He still has on the palate the taste of mint tea which he took with four sugars, as an aperitif, of fresh dates. As a good Africanist that he takes pleasure in having become, he is going to return there.
The ritual, 8.12 2007, it devours the hard 150 km telethon of Labatut (Landes). A very well organized audax patent for humanitarian reasons. Despite the pouring and cold rain, the participants have fond memories of it. A good night's rest. As soon as the day comes, he is ready to go and sets off. A small detour of 535 km. He celebrates Christmas in Perpignan.
Unbreakable. From January 19 to February 2, 2008, he spins endlessly towards his destiny and sets course again for Ethiopia. Meeting point: Addis Ababa, of his knowledge. In the direction of Somalia, further east, the mountainous route of 300 km, escapes towards Lalibela, Dallol, Erta Ale and Harar. This one is demanding, but accessible for his still attacking calves.
Eminently fascinating and striking, obscure until now for us, unknown to the world, the adventures of Ami Baudouin stop here. While waiting for a continuation… Because at 79 years, in the suitcase of the walker which preserves an imperishable memory of these years, there is always this human need to cling to things, not to let go. With all our hearts, this is what we wish him.
His thirty-one glorious years, through extraordinary journeys, without equal, that no one has done on this scale, nor will go higher; will forever remain in the annals of the Union des Audax Français. An example of humility, courage and tenacity which deserved the front of the “scene” and the greatest respect, the space of a summary.
In conclusion, I am very happy to have had the chance to relate all that the unpredictable and tireless Ami Baudouin has achieved. For its part, the Union des Audax Français, created in 1904 by Henri Desgrange, founder of the Tour de France cyclist, can only welcome this.
The practitioners of the different disciplines that I meet are extremely interested in what Baudouin has done. Their curiosity is great. Likewise, their impatience to know everything about his journeys. In their eyes, this is an encouragement. Even if the bubbling allure of life line and desires of the Baudouin Rossius phenomenon, must be modeled with domination and measure!

René Vasseur

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