Ben Dhiman, an American ultra runner in the French Pyrenees

©Jordi Saragossa

A t-shirt, a beard, the Pyrenees and a mystery: Ben Dhiman’s story has left us as stunned and as cool as he is. The Americain from Bigorre swallowed the biggest US treks at the age of 20, finished 3rd in the Diagonale des Fous (Reunion Island) without the obligatory jersey and sprinted at the Templiers 2023 (France). Beneath his teddy-bear exterior, Team Asics’ new recruit is one of the wolrd’s top 5 ultra-trailers, equally at home crossing the Himalayas in 42 days. [Update] Ben Dhiman got his season off to a good start by winning the tough Madeira Island Ultra Trail on the 27th of April 2024, 115km in 13h52. Let’s meet him.

Aged 20 and 24, you set out on two of the longest and most legendary American treks: Appalachian Trail (3500 km, 6 months) and Continental Divide (5000 km, 6 months). Since then, many ultra-trailers have attempted their record, and the trend is now towards thru-hiking – fast, minimalist trekking. Are you already determined to compete?

Ben Dhiman: No, it wasn’t a desire for ultra-trail, but a deep desire for change in my life at the time. For me, everything seemed to be going “for the best in the best of all possible worlds” in my twenties, but I was beginning to realize that my direction in life didn’t suit me at all. It’s true that these trails are iconic, but also very well marked and logistically organized (refuges, etc.).

Given their length, they are ridden at