Ingrid Ulrich- when extraordinary is ordinary
Hello Ingrid, can you introduce yourself? (Age, place of residence, personal path, nickname, job,...)
Hello ! My name is Ingrid but i don’t really like it, it’s too serious. My friends call me « Grid » and my friends from North of France, where I come fom, call me “The Grid” it’s more rustic. I’m 41yo, I have 2 daughters and I used to be a highschool teacher. But at the moment my job is more “crab examinator” (cf: cancer).
How did you discovered SUP and what did you liked the most in this sport?
I discovered SUP in a difficult time of my life (Blog: www.les adventuresdelagrid.com). I was living on a barge on the Canal du Midi. It was just a dream every time I saw them sliding on the water.If I had to summarize what I liked the most in this practice is: FREEDOM and the satisfaction of doing something myself.SUP allows you to go anywhere you want, when you want and only with the strength of your arms: it is an indescribable feeling! And also, I can’t even tell you the feeling you have by surfing a wave, it's just magic!
You practice SUP in both of this areas: sea and river. What are the differences?
It is necessary to know how to correctly read a river; it can be very dangerous whereas at first sight nothing indicates it. There are siphons, recalls, counter currents, pots, rapids, etc. For a paddler (SUP, kayak, canoe ...), the booster is the first cause of drowning. You get scotch in the bottom, it’s impossible to go to the surface and then you drow. Rivers are ranked on a scale of 1 to 6 depending on their difficulty (from easy to extreme). A river is never the same, depending on the season, the weather, its flow, its water level. Don’t venture without a minimum of knowledge and equipment (vest, helmet,…)The sea can be dangerous too but if you do respect basic rules (look at the forecasts, wear a wetsuit or a vest and a leash), you get less chance to be surprise!
When did you know that this passion was gonna become more than a hobbie?
When you fall asleep, telling yourself “I want to be tomorrow to get back in the water” and when your vacations turn into "where can I go on my SUP?" then, you know the virus is there!
Do you compete as well ?
Yes, although this year I’m not gonna compete a lot. I will limit myself to whitewater pool and river competitions. It has a cost: trips, registration, accommodation ... This year I decided to focus myself on my expeditions and my association. That allows me to share this passion with more people and with my fighting sisters.
Can you remind us your podiums?
I did many podiums at the Alpine Lake (flat long distances on a lake) and SUP Cross & River (Rivers and whitewater pools races like The Tawara race or The Naturals Games). I was the first woman at the International Marathon of the Gorges de l'Ardèche and also the first woman doing the 130 km of the mythical race called La Dordogne Intégrale.
And what about your expeditions ?
2015 : The Iceland, Fire and Ice territory. Trek and SUP.
2016 : MED’Ocean Defi : Connect the Mediterranean Sea to the Ocean. 600km paddling in less than 10 days.
2016 : Crossing the Mediterranean sea. SUP Paddle Raid Frejus / Calvi. 190km in 39h.
2016 : Dominic Island and The little Antilles. On the footsteps of the Arawak Indians.
2016 : Crossing Aegean sea and Dodecanese islands. 250km in 10 days.
2017 : Forced passage to Canceropolis2018 : Groenland by SUP. From the first polar expedition’s house to the Banquise. 400km in 21 days.
2018 : Groenland. Kayak Expedition in Disko Bay. 200km in 10 days.
2019: The path of happiness in Haute Maurienne, France. SKI and Pulka.
Do you assume all the "superlatives" that are attributed to you: fighter, adventurer. Today, you are no longer an "ordinary" woman?
I don’t really like these qualifiers. I don’t do anything extraordinary. I row, I travel, I venture, I explore, I have fun and that's it! When I come back home after my expeditions, my life is the same, same as everyone else: I have to make food for my tribe, clean my house, take my daughters to school ...And bout this fight against cancer I have no choice, I have two girls and I’m alone to take care of them. But yes, I am no longer an "ordinary" woman, I have two less breasts (LOL). But unfortunately, I'm not only one...
You’ve been traveling for a while and you felled in love for Groenland. Could you please tell us more about this place? Why so cold and so far away ?
Polar expeditions have always fascinated me, but I always thought it was ... for others. Then life made me feel that it was necessary for me that I realize my dreams before this was no longer possible ... I lived in the Caribbean for several years, and I realized that I had trouble managing my body with the warm weather while the cold makes me feel better! The wild nature of Greenland offers some of the most spectacular and unspoilt panoramas on earth. The polar waters, the gigantic icebergs, the climate, the whales make feel the power of nature. It is striking beauty, brightness. I experienced a tranquility and appeasement as I never felt before, while this expedition was certainly the most committed of all my adventures.It is a supernatural and surprising spectacle of beauty.
You support the feminine cause and disability, how can we help?
I'm not a feminist but I just would like people to stop saying "A woman cannot do this or that!" And disability is the same! A disease, an accident, this can happen to all of us and it should not prevent us from realizing our dreams. Being a woman, a man, sick, limb amputated, or even in a wheelchair, does not stop doing things or going on an adventure! The most important is your mind and your determination.I created "BEYOND THE OCEAN". This association offers free stand up paddle sessions for women who are ill or in breast cancer remission. These sessions are intended to show them that you can do sports during treatments, and that it is a good crazy (lower side effects of chemo, limitation of recurrence ...). And also, sea and nature are good for morale!You can help us by becoming a member of the association (membership bulletin can be downloaded on the Facebook page Beyond the Ocean).
You are one of the new ambassadors of Saint-Jacques Wetsuits’s brand. Can you tell us about your appeal for this brand?
I discovered the brand on while I was the water. I saw some surfers with combinations a little offbeat : polos, sailor top, dresses, in a unique style.I was enormously surprised by the quality of the neoprene and by all the little manufacturing details (And yes, great idea when on a surf spot you say: "Can I touch your suit?" Hahaha)And when I learned that this brand was French and from Montpellier, it was the “cherry on the cake”! Or I should say "It was more the Aerial on the wave"!
Where do you find inspiration when you run out of energy or when you do not feel good? What inspires you?
When I do not have the morale it's simple I take my SUP and I'm going to row. The nature and the sea revive me. By cons I admit to love to row in uncrowded places... calm and solitude help me a lot too.Other way, when I don’t feel good, I open a World Map and I look for a place with a river to explore somewhere on earth! So I already have dozens of trip already planned, that I would do or not, but in my head the travel already starts, and it feels so good. And when I feel really really bad, it's basically in the sofa with an ice cream pot in front of Desperate House Wife that it ends... yes, it happens to me too sometimes!
Do you have a message for people who are reading this interview ?
Make your dreams come true! Dare! Life is short and sometimes can be even shorter than expected. The illness or an accident does not happen only to others.Dear friends, think about breast cancer screening, even before 40 years. And gentlemens, if you want to keep the women you love close to you (your wife, your mother, your sister, your friends, your neighbors ...) encourage them to get tested !
What are your plans for the next ?
I'm leaving for Greenland soon. In winter the temperatures are -30 °. The sea is replaced by the floe. I will be with my skis and a pulka to transport my equipment. I will do the same as this summer in SUP but this time on the ice. This expedition will last a month, we are gonna be two.
And this summer, a solo expedition in SUP on the Emerald River: the Soca. Its source is in Slovenia and it ends its race in the Adriatic Sea. I may meet a brown bear there ;)
What is your motto?
It is more a quote. I really like this one: "It's not what we are that prevents us from realizing our dreams; that's what we believe that we are not.” Paul Emile Victor