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International Trail Racing Insights from Rory Bosio

The ultra trail running champion has some things to keep in mind when it comes to racing internationally.

The ultra trail running champion has some things to keep in mind when it comes to racing internationally.

As a two-time winner of the Ultra-Trail du Mont Blanc and a winner or contender at dozens of trail races across the U.S. and beyond, Truckee, Calif. resident Rory Bosio, 30, has collected some keen takeaways about the international racing scene.

On a personal level, Bosio sees running and racing abroad as a great way to travel and experience different cultures. And as a professional runner, she enjoys immersing herself in the local running scene at international races, practicing her foreign language skills and having fun doing what she loves. In addition to taking a cue from Bosio’s positive outlook, keep her insights in mind when you decide to toe the line in a distant land.

— The international public is much more aware and appreciative of trail and ultra racing, and races have much more hype and many more spectators. [Editor’s note: The beginning of the UTMB in Chamonix, an ultra trail race with 2,300 participants, had music, speeches, excitement, cheering fans, barricaded streets and thousands of spectators, enough to rival a major marathon in the U.S.]

— For the most part, trail and ultra races in Europe have more participants than races in the states, which means you are never really out in the middle of nowhere alone.

RELATED: Bosio Repeats As UTMB Champion

— European races, as well as some races in South America, don’t allow pacers. There is more of a sense of self-reliance to the experience. I enjoy having pacers, but it’s nice to mix things up too. I like the sense of a personal journey that comes with covering the course on my own.

— Fewer women race internationally and spectators are very excited and enthusiastic to see female race participants. As a female, it gives events a fun and cool energy.

— International racers are not as reliant on gels and fuels during races. They eat more real food, which I find is easier to eat during a race anyway. The aid stations usually have a yummy smorgasbord with dried meats, cheeses, bread, sandwiches, soup, cookies and chocolate. At an aid station about 20 hours in to the UTMB this year, I was handed a homemade pastry that had custard and blueberries on it. I had that and a cup of coffee for a great, normal—except for the fact that I was in the middle of a race—mid-morning snack. It was so good! I could have just sat down and continued eating. I also ate some sort of cured venison sausage—it was awesome! I wanted to go back and put some in my pack!

— The overall ability of European runners to be good at running technical descents—how fast they go and what they go over—is eye opening. We just don’t have as many trails that are that technical in the U.S. I’m definitely working on my skills because you can’t relax on the downhills. They are a place to make up a lot of time.

RELATED: Bosio’s Favorite Things