Petter Restorp, the winner of the 2023 edition of the S1 Ultra, Itra 834, is not just an Elite trail running enthusiast but also a traveler who loves discovering new places on foot. Originally from Sweden and now residing in Chamonix, France, Petter sees the Corsa della Bora – The Bora Wind Race as an energizing jolt and a refreshing break from the winter routine. The race, set in a location that is both captivating and historically rich, served as a “little winter adventure” for him, testing him physically and mentally alike.
According to Petter, the Corsa della Bora is an excellent way to kick off the racing season, acting as the ideal preparation for longer events scheduled for early or late summer. The course offers a mix of terrains and conditions, making it varied and challenging but not exhausting. This allows runners to fully focus on the race or to be enchanted by the breathtaking views.
But don’t be fooled: the Corsa della Bora is anything but a walk in the park. From the chill of the night to the warmth of the day, from flatlands to mountains, every phase of the race demands a well-thought-out strategy and appropriate gear. Here are Petter’s tips for tackling this unique and invigorating winter challenge.
What attracted you the most about the Bora race?
I like traveling and a good way to discover a new place is by foot. If there is a race to run that’s even better. The routes are usually planned to get the most out of the surroundings and the social aspects of taking part in a race are great. I was happy when I found the Bora race and I straight away knew it would be the perfect little winter adventure. I felt attracted by the location and the history of the place. Oh, and not so little at all, in fact, a solid challenge in the middle of winter. I had just recovered from a long period of post-covid and was eager to test my abilities. I also found it stimulating and different to run a long race out of the normal racing season. I came down from my home among the mountains of Chamonix, France where not much trail running at all was going on at that time of the year.
What were your sensations during the race?
I started out too fast of course, but I just couldn’t help myself. I was moving controlled and efficiently during the night. There was a cold mist on top of the first hills but the spirit was high and I could run without hesitation. When I got to the Austro-Hungarian tunnel of Sveta Gora someone had probably hit his or her head in the low roof and there was a trail of blood which was a spooky reminder of the battles more than a century ago. Later in the race my lack of running before this race was very present and was giving me troubles. Especially in the downhills my legs didn’t want to cooperate. But then I got a first glimpse of the sea and hopes were high again. Toward the end our route fell into the same trails of the other race distances and it felt good to see people again. The change from a lonely struggle to a collective and fun run was encouraging and suddenly I had energy to run the last stretch to the finish line in, what felt like a good pace. At the portopiccolo and Bora Village the party was already in full swing.
What would you recommend eating during a long winter race?
Eating during long races is always a challenge and one of the hardest pieces of the puzzle to solve. It is important to have a plan and try to follow it, but equally important to realize that the plan is never fully going to work out and therefore have a plan B and then improvise. I usually drink my calories and get the rest in as gels, bars, and some candy. Late in the race I prefer to drink water and rely more on gels and extra energy intake in the checkpoints. For winter running it is nice to get something hot. If the organization serves soup in any of the aid stations make sure you don’t miss it. Put on all your clothes and sit down for a few moments and enjoy. My favorite is a minestrone soup with parmesan cheese and some salty crackers or potato chips. If the weather is cold, it is a good idea to carry the liquid in a bladder along the back of your running vest. If it is possible to have it warmed up it will also keep your back nice and warm. The best one I have found so far is Moonvalley’s black currants sports drink. I never get tired of it.
How do you train during the winter?
Variation in training is good. I try to do more milage in some parts of the year and train with higher intensity at other times. More hilly workouts at some point and concentrate on flat and speed at some other time of the year. It all has to fit in with plans, family situations, location, weather conditions, and life in general. For me, winter is usually a good time to increase my fitness. The trails around my house are covered under a thick layer of snow. It’s fun to run in but for training, I turn to the roads, the tracks, and the treadmill. I do mostly flat running intervals and use ski mountaineering as a complement for the longer days out.
What positive characteristics can the S1 route have for athletic preparation?
Running the Bora race is a refreshing break from winter training routine. It’s a boost! Most races take place in summer, and I found it a very good reminder of the other aspects of running long races. Some of those are managing food and drinking, running in the dark, planning and preparing and bringing and using the right gear and clothing.
Which races would you recommend to prepare for the Bora race and for which races can the Bora race serve as preparation?
To participate in the Bora race it helps to come prepared by having done some longer runs and races before. I like to tell people they don’t have to climb the km ladder by going through all the distances, but the difference here is the fact that it is winter and weather can get pretty nasty and change a lot between night and day. Just go try it if you feel prepared, but better yet is to do a shorter winter race around the marathon distance plus a 80 to100 km summer race.
The Bora race is great preparation for any of the early longer races.
Which is the piece of equipment that is a Must-have for winter running?
La Sportiva Cyklon Cross GTX is the best shoe for running in winter. Integrated gaiter, waterproof, excellent grip and very comfortable.
Silva Trail Speed 5X headlamp has superior light and the possibility to keep the battery warm in a pocket with an extension cord. A good combination of high lumen and battery lifetime.