Running’s changed. It’s no longer just a hobby, an activity—something to suffer through to shed a few pounds. Spurred by a few visionaries in cities and regions around the globe, our sport has become a culture. A lifestyle. A gathering place that celebrates diversity and strength. In this series, in partnership with Jaybird, we speak with some of those visionaries to find out why the best way to tap into the rhythm of a place is on two feet.
In this installment: champion ultrarunner Rory Bosio. The 34-year-old intensive-care nurse blazed onto the elite ultra-distance scene in 2013 by winning the sport’s crown jewel, the Ultra-Trail du Mont Blanc (UTMB). She made history in the French Alps that year, becoming the first woman to break 23 hours in the 106-mile race. Today, Bosio spends her summer months living and running in Chamonix, France—the site of the UTMB’s start and finish line and home to a thriving trail running community.
Here, in Rory’s own words, is what it’s like to run in her world.
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Running is my portal to happiness. Simply put, I am my happiest in life when I’m out in the mountains, either alone or with a friend or two. While I love the act of running, it is really just a means of escaping into nature. I feel the most free and full of joy when I’m immersed in the beauty of the natural world. No more so than in Chamonix.
To view the rest of Jaybird’s Run Wild series, click here.
I won UTMB in 2013 and 2014—I don’t love to race but if I can do what people perceive as “well,” then that’s icing on the cake. My mentality is just to go out and have a nice day in the mountains—savor the moment. Something about this place makes it easy to do that. I fell so in love with the region and the race that now I come back to live and run here every summer.
ANY MOUNTAIN OR PEAK YOU WANT TO CLIMB—A TRAIL CAN TAKE YOU THERE.
Chamonix is breathtakingly beautiful. It’s a mountain town surrounded by the French and Italian Alps—a very dramatic landscape—with huge granite peaks. The views are most stunning when you’re above the tree line, running.
Most of the trails here are single-track, which I prefer. It takes me back to running cross country as a kid. I’ve lost count on how many trails I’ve run here over the years. Hundreds of kilometers. You never get bored.
In the summer there are wildflowers everywhere. The trail system in the region is well-developed, and pretty much anywhere you want to go—any mountain or peak you want to climb—a trail can take you there.
THE HIGHER UP YOU GO, ONCE YOU CLIMB ABOVE THE TREE LINE, IT’S QUIET.
I usually run on my own, so I’ll split my runs: half with music or podcasts, and half in silence. When you’re running close to town, you can hear the sounds of life—like the church bells that go off every 30 minutes. They’re very charming. But the higher up you go, once you climb above the tree line, it’s quiet.
The trees are rustling, the birds are chirping. Cows and sheep graze at high elevations. They have cowbells and sheep bells, which I love. I’ll be running on the mountains and look down to see a meadow or valley with tons of cows and sheep. I can still hear their bells.
When I’m out running for five, six hours, I’ll listen to music or a podcast for about half of it. My music playlist is a mix, some of it Top 40 poppy music, and some of it music that teenagers don’t listen to. I’ve created a playlist in partnership with Jaybird that reflects what I love to listen to, deep into a run surrounded by the gorgeous Chamonix scenery.
MY RED WINE AND CHEESE CONSUMPTION GOES THROUGH THE ROOF WHEN I’M HERE.
The food here is incredible. I start my days with steel-cut oatmeal with chia seeds, nuts, and blueberries, and a big cup of coffee. That’ll power me through my runs when I’m out for hours at a time. On really long runs I make a sandwich (or two), with French cheese melted onto a croissant or really hearty bread with nuts and seeds. Plus I add some tomato and avocado.
Oh, and let’s just say, my red wine and cheese consumption goes through the roof when I’m here.
THIS IS A FAIRYTALE LAND.
The Home Away From Home
Over the years, I’ve made many running friends who live around here. I think of it as a little United Nations; there are people from all over: England, Australia, South America. And you don’t have to speak French to get by. I speak French very poorly, and as soon as I start talking in horrible, broken French, the locals will speak to you in English.
Chamonix is definitely a tourist town, but its economy depends on tourists, so they don’t resent that. Once you head into the trails, you get away from it all. Everybody I’ve met and am friends with live in Chamonix because of the mountains. Those are the types of people I love. It’s the ideal location for mountain running. And then there’s the French lifestyle, being very focused on the good pleasures in life. This is a fairytale.
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Stay tuned for future installments of Run in My World as Men’s Health and Jaybird explore other global running epicenters and how their communities are evolving the sport.
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– Brought to you by Jaybird –