The USA’s Rory Bosio has been a force for many years at the UTMB festival of races and in 2019 she’s back at the 100-mile distance. In the following interview, Rory talks about her long history of racing and adventuring in the Alps, how she sets her mind on racing 100 miles in such a mountainous environment, and the ways the women’s half of the sport has grown over the years.
Rory Bosio Pre-2019 UTMB Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Meghan Hicks of iRunFar, I’m with Rory Bosio. It’s a couple days before the 2019 UTMB. Well UTMB and Rory Bosio again.
Rory Bosio: Yeah. Reunited, feels so good. I’m really happy to be here.
iRunFar: It’s like your long-lost boyfriend.
Bosio: Yeah, where is he? Yeah, I love this race so I’m just really excited to be back and I think it’s just such a cool concept to go all the way around Mont Blanc, it’s not every day that you get to do that so yeah, it should be fun.
iRunFar: You have been a part of the UTMB Festival for so long now, was 2013 your first summer coming out here?
Bosio: No, I came over and did UTMB in 2012, the abbreviated night race.
iRunFar: That’s right, I forgot that, yeah. The night rain race.
Bosio: Everybody else was kind of complaining about it, but it was my first race internationally, it was my first race in – it was my first time in Chamonix and I thought it was really fun because I was like, it’s an adventure even though practically the whole time was in the dark, I think I finished –
iRunFar: And the rain.
Bosio: Yeah, and the rain. Which made it kind of more fun and so then I knew the next year I really wanted to come back and do the whole thing, which I was able to. Yeah.
iRunFar: Does that make it your seventh summer here or eighth?
Bosio: I guess so. There’s been one year where I didn’t – I think it was 2015, that I didn’t do any of the UTMB races but I was –
iRunFar: But you were here.
Bosio: I was here, I actually did the, it’s like UTMB on a mountain bike over in Megève, it’s called the, what is it, something, it’s like 140k on a mountain bike over kind of more near Les Houches. Yeah, and I was brutal, it took me like 15 hours and I was like, I would rather do UTMB twice in a row then do that breaker again.
iRunFar: I think I’ll stick to running.
Bosio: Yeah exactly, ass over teakettle numerous times. Running, no wheels involved, much safer.
iRunFar: Well you were a two-time UTMB Champion, you’re a TDS champion.
iRunFar: Sorry, I’m sorry.
Bosio: That was Audrey [Tanguy] last year, not me.
iRunFar: I’m sorry Audrey. What brings you back to do these races year after year? Because there is the concept of, I’m going to hang out in Chamonix at a great little place like this and then there’s the concept of coming back to race.
Bosio: It’s more the former than the latter for me. I wish I had more of that competitive drive but it seems to have gone away in eighth grade. I use UTMB as kind of an excuse to justify the amount of time I spend over here in the summer. For me it’s a community, it’s super fun to come over here and get to run with my girly friends like Stephanie [Violett] and Fernanda [Maciel] and Martina [Valmassoi], so it’s super fun.
iRunFar: Shout out to all the ladies.
Bosio: To the ladies. So it’s really fun to come over here and hang out with them and obviously the scenery is world-class and unbeatable so yeah, it’s become kind of a just little summer ritual for me to escape and come over here and vacation.
iRunFar: Do you, I mean you’ve been a champion of UTMB a couple times, podium at TDS, do you have a competitive drive in you?
Bosio: No. No, I think for me with anything this long, anything over 15 hours I really, you have to quiet the noise of competitors, because if you start focusing on them you will lose focus on yourself and with something like this it so long that I really just have to focus inward and just think about getting around the mountain in one piece. The longer I have done these races the more I realize that I value the experiences where I’m able to kind of ride that middle zone. Where the peaks and valleys aren’t too high, I’m just kind of in the middle. Yeah in the middle, so for me if I can just go out and I started really slow and just hopefully keep a decent enough pace where I make it all the way around. And I personally don’t love pain and discomfort so much so I tried to minimize those.
iRunFar: It’s hilarious that you’re running 100 miles here.
Bosio: Well, you’re able – I did the new UTMB series race in Ushuaia [Ushuaia by UTMB] in Argentina in April and that was about, I think it was about 80 miles. And we had had a really big winter in Tahoe and I hadn’t been running at all and I was worried going into that race, I was like, oh my gosh I haven’t been running, this is really going to stink. But I was able to just go out and really pace myself and I had so much fun and really minimized the lows so that’s what I’m looking to do here. Minimize the lows, keep my expectations low and I won’t be disappointed.
iRunFar: So you seen all kind of weather at UTMB over the years, this forecast is looking like – while somebody said it yesterday, potentially hotter than Western States this year.
Bosio: Oh good God. That’s why I don’t do Western States anymore, it’s too hot.
iRunFar: You just come to UTMB where this year it’s hot.
Bosio: I would rather it be pissing frogs then the heat but the heat here, it will be like 25°C so about 80 which really when you think about it, with humidity isn’t so bad. At least you get a lot of, a good chunk of the races in the dark and then the early morning hours aren’t too bad so if I mentally do it in my head like that, okay it’s only like eight hours of uncomfortable weather, heat and humidity. And I’ve been over here long enough this summer that I feel at least I acclimated to it. Because where I come from in Tahoe it’s so dry.
iRunFar: Like 7% humidity.
Bosio: I come over here my skin loves it, but I don’t. Yeah, yeah. I feel bad wishing that it was raining and really crappy weather, because that doesn’t make it enjoyable for the majority of the runners, so this will probably make it a little bit more fun for people who are out there for two days not having to deal with rain.
iRunFar: I want to ask you about sort of your perspective on the development of the women’s competition here at UTMB. It seems like maybe when you are first coming out here it was like the competitive depth was a lot shallower, it was like there was a couple superstars but now there’s not only superstars but there’s incredible competitive depth.
Bosio: Yeah, I think it’s really incredible and it’s just a testament to how the sport is growing and how more and more women are getting involved so yeah, you’re getting that depth and I think it’s really exciting. I tend not to look at who’s racing before because of what I said earlier, but I do know that the women’s field this year is just super strong and it was that way last year. I spectated UTMB last year and I was just blown away by the level I saw of the women’s race and I think it’s great. I think the more women we can attract to doing this, the more girls will get involved at a younger age and it’s been such a rewarding part of my life that I’m like, trying to spread the word, come out and do it. Women are really good at these longer races. I think you see in the half marathon distances and 50k the numbers are more even but then when you make that jump up, between genders but when you make that jump up to 100 miles there’s definitely kind of a disparity there and it slowly closing. I think it’s more women realizing that you can do it and your body actually excels at it so yeah, I think it is great, I think it makes it really entertaining and I think it attracts more sponsors to sponsor women and I’m all for it.
iRunFar: You have been one of the women sort of prevalent over here in the UTMB-ish community advocating for honouring women equally to men. When we all used to start coming out to UTMB, the race honoured five women. They now honour 10 women, equal to the number of men they honour on the podium. I just want to know your thoughts on that sort of, if they build it they will come type of thing because here we are now some years later and look how quickly the women’s field has increased in its competitive depth, right?
Bosio: Yeah, I think it’s an overall problem in the outdoor industry and in athletics and sports in general that women don’t get as much coverage. And some might say, well it’s because they are not as fast as the men and people want to see the fastest doing it and that’s why there’s not as much money to the women but I really think it starts from a coverage basis and media attention, which I think iRunFar is so good at. You guys pay – no really, you guys pay such equal attention and it’s not just, you’ll put the women first in your race recaps and stuff like that matters. So I think the more attention that the women’s field can get, the more you’re going to attract and it’s just that positive reinforcement and I think we are seeing the benefits of that, of UTMB awarding equally top 10, top 10 men, top 10 women. You know when I hear race organizers saying, trying to give themselves pats on the back for giving equal pay for equal prize money I’m like, it’s really great and that’s the way it should be, I don’t think you should be given a pat on the back for that. That’s like a father doing his job and actually being a parent to a child is getting a pat on the back for not being a deadbeat, it’s like no, that’s your responsibility. It should all be equal and I’m great that it is that way; I mean I feel great that it’s that way, but it should be that way. There shouldn’t be any props to that, that should be the default is equal. So I think it’s great. I think were just seen more and more women get into the sport, which I like.
iRunFar: Some sort of notes to add to that, sometimes our coverage of women’s races gets more attention and readership and interest then our coverage of the same men’s race.
Bosio: Well, I believe it, because look how cute we are. No offense guys.
iRunFar: That sweatshirt, how can you say no to that sweatshirt.
Bosio: Exactly, come on. Yeah, I think it’s great. I think you see like with this year UTMB, the women’s race to me seems like it’s going to be more competitive than the men so.
iRunFar: And one more note to add to that, given the number of women who are in this race versus the number of men, like overall field entrants, one would argue that in ratio the women’s race has more competitive debt than the men’s. There are less overall numbers of quote-unquote elite women in the field, but relative to the number of women in the race it’s like –
Bosio: Very concentrated.
iRunFar: It’s a hugely deep women’s field.
Bosio: Yeah, yeah, which is really cool.
iRunFar: While I wish you the best of luck in what is this, your 23rd journey around Mont Blanc over the years?
Bosio: Sure. Between all the recces and whatever, I actually haven’t done any of the course since I’ve been here this year. So we’ll see if it’s changed.
iRunFar: Will see if it’s changed. Maybe something changed.
Bosio: Exactly. Looking forward to surprises.
iRunFar: Good luck Rory.
Bosio: Thanks Meghan. Support iRunFar, they’re the best.
Bosio: Bye, true.