You leave your apartment; a cowbell’s ring breaks the cold morning air. Shouts of “allez allez” and “andiamo” dance through the mist as runners from the TDS are cheered home.
You pass a street corner, where two international teammates sit swapping bites of language. She’s teaching him how to say “hi” in Chinese, and he grins as he tries it on. “Ni hao? Ni hao.”
A group of runners swooshes by, leaving a wake of accented English. British, American, and Australian English all float on the air as the runners trot on.
Into the closest bakery you wander, which offers French pastries and a smorgasbord of languages—Spanish spoken in line, Japanese in the corner, English at the register, and a snoring dog on the floor.
Yes, Chamonix is totally, completely French. It’s full of “bonjours,” bakeries, and baguettes. But unlike other Alpine towns, Cham has its own dialect—the dialect of the outdoors and, this week specifically, trail running. And unlike other dialects, this one isn’t hard to crack.
[Editor’s Note: This week, as the UTMB festival of races center around the European Alps town of Chamonix, France, we’re bringing you daily dispatches from photojournalist Kirsten Kortebein. Our goal is to document the global community that trail running brings together in Chamonix. Thanks to Jaybird for sponsoring these dispatches.]