For the second year in a row, Rory Bosio won the The North Face Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc. In the following interview, Rory talks about how her race went blow-by-blow, why this year’s UTMB win was more rewarding than last year’s, why she’s unlikely to return to UTMB next year, and why she went out dancing the night after her win.
Read our results article for the full story on how the 2014 TNF UTMB unfolded.
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Rory Bosio, 2014 TNF Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc Champion, Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Bryon Powell of iRunFar here with Rory Bosio after her win at the 2014 The North Face Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc. Rory, awesome run yet again.
Rory Bosio: Thank you. Cheers.
iRunFar: Cheers to that.
Bosio: Coffee time.
iRunFar: It is coffee time. It’s 9 a.m. here in Chamonix. Hopefully you had a good night of sleep.
Bosio: Finally, yeah. I drank, I think my crew and I figured out, I drank two liters of Coca Cola during the race. So, it’s taken about 24 hours for all that caffeine to work its way out of my system. I’m finally feeling a little bit more back to normal.
iRunFar: Nice. Yet again, a very strong performance, a dominating performance in the end. But the first half of the race, a little different than last year, you ran sort of with Núria [Picas] and Nathalie [Mauclair].
Bosio: Yeah, I was trying to… I was kind of trying to find that comfortable medium of… you know, this race goes out very fast. The men especially are running the first mile faster than I can run one mile let alone the first of 100. And I was feeling decent enough that I thought, Okay, I’ll just kind of keep it going, but then I definitely had to back off the pace once we got to Saint-Gervais and between Saint-Gervais and the Notre Dame de la Gorge where it’s kind of the flatter area. I just knew, Okay, this is not my section; let them go and hopefully I’ll be able to make up some time on the climbs, because Núria especially is a great runner and very well-rounded. There’s not an area that she does not excel at. She’s great on the flats, she’s great on the downhills, and she’s great on climbing. I have a really hard time on the flat sections. I just get bogged down. I just kind of had to let her and Nathalie go. Okay, see ya’. It’s not worth it to me to try and keep up on those sections.
iRunFar: Then you do have a very long climb up to Col du Bonhomme.
Bosio: Yes, which is where I kind of feel like the race finally gets started there. The first three or four hours you’re kind of just biding your time. Then when you finally get into the mountains and start climbing up, I mean, you have the first climb up to Col de Voz but it’s kind of just fire road. It doesn’t really give you that feel of being in the Alps and UTMB as much as when you’re climbing up to Col du Bonhomme. That’s where I kind of feel like, Okay, now this feels like UTMB.
iRunFar: That is a real hill, right?
Bosio: Yeah, that is a real hill.
iRunFar: Or mountain, let’s call it.
Bosio: And you finally get off of the fire road and you’re kind of in a technical area. Since it’s been so wet here this summer, the trails are kind of trashed. You’re kind of picking your way up. It’s kind of like ‘find your own adventure’ going up. Yeah, I finally got into the race and into the flow starting there.
iRunFar: So when did you catch back up to Núria and Nathalie?
Bosio: Nathalie I caught up to on that descent into Les Chapieux. It’s that very technical, rutty, almost like little cow path.
iRunFar: They’re really narrow.
Bosio: They’re very narrow. This year because it had pretty much rained from hour two to hour six—I felt like it was a good four hours of solid rain in there for awhile—everything was super slick and wet and it’s dark. I think Nathalie was saying she doesn’t really love those kind of downhills. I don’t blame her. They’re not fun downhills where you can just let it flow. You have to really concentrate and pay attention and it was really technical. So I caught up to her there. Then I didn’t catch back up to Núria until the climb out of Courmayeur up to Bertone.
iRunFar: At that point you probably didn’t run together very long?
Bosio: Actually, we climbed up together for awhile.
iRunFar: Did you?
Bosio: Yeah, for about like maybe 10 or 15 minutes. It was nice. It was just the two of us. There were no men around. There was a guy in front of us and maybe some guys behind, but just she and I hiked together.
iRunFar: A little girls’ night out?
Bosio: Yeah, it was actually really nice. I think we were both kind of in a lower point right there. It’s the middle of the night and I felt sleepy. I was like, I could go to sleep right now.
iRunFar: It’s kind of hard because you come out of the night into the excitement of Courmayeur…
Bosio: Yes, which is… going into Courmayeur is great. I was excited for that. You get to see your crew and you’re in Italy and it’s just so fun and it’s great. Then you go back into the darkness. The climb—I actually think that from Courmayeur to the top of Col Ferret is probably one of the more harder stretches because it’s a lot of climbing, you don’t get to see your crew, it’s more desolate, you’re very spread out, and it’s in the middle of the night.
iRunFar: It’s not two huge climbs, but it’s two climbs where you have a climb, a flat, and then another climb.
Bosio: Descent, yes.
iRunFar: They’re kind of in quick succession as opposed to the other big climbs where you climb and then have a big descent and then another climb.
Bosio: Yeah, climb and big descent. Yeah, that’s a hard section.
iRunFar: The first one is rough—Bertone.
Bosio: It’s so steep. It’s misleading. Since it’s dark out, you can’t really see when you’re getting to the summit. What’s really cool is you can see Courmayeur all lit up, so that’s nice. I kept thinking, Okay, we seem like we’re high enough above Courmayeur. We should be getting to the top. But it just kept going and going and going and going.
iRunFar: So you pass her or break away from her after that going to Ferret and you open up a lead pretty quickly, but you don’t know that’s happening obviously.
Bosio: No, and at those points, I always feel like there’s so much time left in that kind of race that you just kind of have to keep going your own pace and hope that you don’t fall apart kind of thing.
iRunFar: But you didn’t.
Bosio: Yeah, I still had some low points for sure. This year was more challenging for me, and I think probably for a lot of people, because it was so muddy especially the second half because we were on the part of the course where all the CCC runners had been that morning before. So a lot of the descents were super muddy and you just couldn’t bomb down them like I could last year. For me personally I’m not great on muddy sections. I get kind of paranoid that I’m going to slip and what will happen, so I just kind of pick my way down. I become so much more tense. It’s not like that loose free-flowing type of running. I felt just very tense on those downhills and it definitely made my legs more sore for sure.
iRunFar: There were definitely people that I talked to that ended up having big problems because they were so much more tense on those descents.
Bosio: Yeah, the mud made it just… which at the same time though, I kind of like that added element of making it a little bit more treacherous and difficult. Well, if we’re going to do something extreme, we might as well take it to the most extreme.
iRunFar: I don’t know if a lot of people would know, but a lot of the descents on the UTMB course, there are exceptions, but they’re not all that technical.
Bosio: No, there are quite a few where you can really let it go and flow.
iRunFar: Down to La Fouly.
Bosio: Yeah, I usually love that one, but this year it was like a mud slip-n-slide. It made it a lot trickier. Then the descent coming down… actually for me I felt like the hardest part of the race was getting to the top of Col de Montets (just right over there) and contouring along to La Flégère. This year for me I think my legs were just so sore and tired by that point. Then the descent from Flégère down to Chalet Floria is really steep, really rocky, and it’s at 150k or 155k. In that part, it just felt like a thousand little knives stabbing into my quads. That was the harder part.
iRunFar: That was the hard part.
Bosio: Yeah, it seems like that’s one of the most technical parts of the race and it’s at the end, so it was hard.
iRunFar: But at that point, you probably know…
Bosio: I’m so superstitious when it comes to racing sometimes. I always think that anybody could catch up to you at any point.
iRunFar: It definitely didn’t… last year seemed like one of those perfect moments… not moments, but in a relaxed sort of way everything just flowed. This year definitely seemed like more of a fight.
Bosio: Oh, yeah. I had to really work to get to the finish this year. I just think the elements made it a lot harder, but at the same time it makes it so much more rewarding when you get to the finish. You’re like, I really put everything out there, and you feel pretty exhausted. But then the sense of relief in getting to the finish is so much more overwhelming.
iRunFar: So what was it like in the last 40 miles? Last year you were catching guy after guy after… slowly, but you were only moving up. This year you were moving up and up and up and then… not like you fell apart, but then a couple people passed you back.
Bosio: Oh, yeah. I don’t care. I kind of think, How much pain… how sore do I want to be tomorrow? How hobbled do I want to make myself? I find that happy medium—Eh, a couple people passed me. Eh, that’s fine.
iRunFar: Gotcha’. So it doesn’t change your mental state.
Bosio: No, not at all. No.
iRunFar: Maybe if Núria had passed you?
Bosio: Yeah, maybe, yeah, although she’s so sweet and nice, I don’t know.
iRunFar: She said she very much enjoyed being out there with you.
Bosio: Yeah, she’s great. I was like, “You have to come over and race in the U.S. A lot of our races aren’t as difficult as this, but yeah.”
iRunFar: There are some.
Bosio: There are some for sure.
iRunFar: You won two UTMB’s back-to-back, but you’re a women who likes to explore.
Bosio: Never stop exploring… in sleeping bags.
iRunFar: Can you see yourself trying a new adventure next year?
Bosio: Yeah, definitely. I love UTMB. I do not think I will be back next year. I just need something different. For me it’s good to have the element of surprise and a new challenge. There are so many races that I would like to do. Yeah, I’ll get around to thinking of something. I originally thought, I thought, Oh, Tor de Géants—if 100 miles in the Alps is fun, what’s better? 200 miles in the Alps! I don’t know. I think that’s a crazy idea now the day after the race. I don’t know if that’s such a good idea, but we’ll see.
iRunFar: The concept appeals to you?
Bosio: The concept, yeah. It’s like communism—good in theory, but maybe not so great in practice.
iRunFar: Tor de Géants, the communism of ultrarunning.
Bosio: Yeah, exactly.
iRunFar: What other races kind of… anything back in the states light your fire?
Bosio: Well, my next race will be the new Endurance Challenge that The North Face is putting on in Park City, Utah, which is in October—a nice time to be in Park City.
iRunFar: Perfect time.
Bosio: After that, I don’t know. I haven’t really looked.
iRunFar: Next year, anything? Could you see a focus race in the States?
Bosio: Hardrock, if they would let me get in.
iRunFar: You might put your name in that lottery for next year?
Bosio: Yeah, I’ll definitely put my name in just because I might as well start putting my name in. There are some more races in Europe I’d like to come back to. I like to be able to travel. There are lots of races in the States. I’d love to be able to do The Rut, but the timing is just not right for me.
iRunFar: C’mon, you’ve got…
Bosio: I know, I’ve got 10 days. I don’t think so.
iRunFar: C’mon, [Mike]Foote and [Mike]Wolfe, start working on her.
Bosio: In listening to how brutal they’re making that race, I don’t think I could, yeah.
Bosio: No, it’s not going to happen. Yeah, so we’ll see.
iRunFar: Well, congratulations, Rory.
Bosio: Thanks, Bryon!
iRunFar: Enjoy what looks to be an absolutely stunning day.
Bosio: I know. It’s nice. It’s kind of playing peek-a-boo with Brevant right now.
iRunFar: Yet another wet night…
Bosio: Yeah, exactly.
iRunFar: You never know what you’re going to get the next morning.
Bosio: It’s in the Alps… surprise!
Bosio: Cheers! Oh, hi Phoenix! Hi Jax! I miss you! I love you! I had to get that in. I’m not saying hi to the city of Phoenix. It’s a little baby.
iRunFar: Hi Phoenix.
Bosio: Hi, Phoenix.
iRunFar: Anything else?
Bosio: Anything else? I’d like to thank all my friends who came out and partied with me at the discotheque after the race. We had an amazing dance party.
iRunFar: So you really did?
Bosio: Yeah. We went out to Les Caves. I think that’s why I actually don’t feel as bad as I thought I was going to feel.
iRunFar: Rory’s secret to recovery…
Bosio: Is dancing.
Bosio: Yeah, I think the worst thing you can do is just sit on your butt after the race. You need to work that stuff out.
iRunFar: That’s the perfect bonus question for you. What was your favorite song to dance to the night after UTMB?
Bosio: I really like, “I Love It” by Icona Pop. It was a big hit here about two years ago, but I really love it. I love it.
iRunFar: There you go, guys. Recover with a little “I Love It.” Sweet.