It was just two weeks ago that we celebrated more international athletes ever on podium of STY, 92km race in Ultra-Trail Mt. Fuji. Boa Running Team debuted successfully there with Michael Kabicher (AUT) as 4th male, and Laetitia Pibis (FRA) as 6th female (though missed podium just one notch in ranking).
(Photo: Michael Kabicher (right) and Laetitia Pibis after STY award ceremony. Photo courtesy of Boa Technology Inc.)
Boa Running Team is, for it namesake, the group of athletes supported by Boa Technology Inc., distributor of “Boa®︎ Fit System”, innovative lacing system with clicking wheel for running shoes, cycling shoes and ski boots, etc. The team send Michael and Laetitia to far east Asia for two weeks, to learn more about our sport, as well as to race. In the weekend before Mt. Fuji, they ran Korea 50k, and Laetitia won it (but she sprained her ankle which made her STY challenging) and Michael was the runner-up.
On the day before STY, we caught them at Kawaguchiko to chat over their team, their impressions on Japan, and Boa®︎ Fit System.
- 1 Michael started his team way before they have trailrunning shoes with Boa®︎ Fit System
- 2 Michael likes technical rocky terrain, and Laetitia loves variety of sports
- 3 Japanese trailrunners are dedicated people to the sport
- 4 Boa®︎ Fit System is to adjust shoe fit quickly and precisely on different terrain
- 5 Boa®︎ makes running more enjoyable with less stress
- 6 Post-interview note: Boa®︎ Fit System brought evolution to fit of trailrunning shoes
Michael started his team way before they have trailrunning shoes with Boa®︎ Fit System
Koichi Iwasa of DogsorCaravan: Wellcome to Japan! Would you tell us about Boa Runnig Team? What kind of people are getting together, and what is its objective?
Michael Kabicher: Boa®︎ Fit System is more popular brand for ski boots and cycling shoes than trailrunning shoes. Our running team started at Trans Alpine Run in 2016. My good friend Ivan and I ran and completed as team. Ivan had been belonged to other trail running team then, but I wanted to start something with him after our finish. This was the first step of our Boa Running Team. In following years, we have a couple of trail running shoes with BOA system. So we thought, “Why not make it more visible?” Trailrunning community might be small but people are well connected. Laetitia from France, and Frorian from Austria joined our team. Now we have nine athletes from Europe and US. In addition, we are also super happy to get support from Shingo Watanabe in Japan.
Koichi: Do you have any policy in your team?
Laetitia Pibis: I’m part of Boa Running Teamand I have to say first of all there is a really good atmosphere in our team. Each team member makes decision on which race to run. We try to race together in Europe. Of course we meet up all together several times a year, and to talk about our projects and goals. Sometimes we discuss on running market to give some insights to Boa’s business. In discussion, we review all prototype products of Boa®︎ Fit System, test shoes and give feedback. When it comes to performance as athletes, Year 2017 was pretty successful for us. I believe our presence in our sports is more recognized with our international travel to run races and train in the field. We are achieving higher performance without pressure.
Michael Kabicher: On the trail, each one of team gives one’s best, tries to show what he/she can do. So I think it’s a good mix of living the trailrunning culture and having fun and joy. Our first priority is to have fun! It is the best moment to enjoy beer together after the race.
Michael likes technical rocky terrain, and Laetitia loves variety of sports
Koichi: You two sound enjoying your life with this sports. Would you tell me what kind of trail or mountain you like to run?
Michael Kabicher: I like big mountains, rocky, technical trails like Trans Alpine Run. I started to run for road marathon, then moved on to triathlon, and finally fell in love with trailrunning. I thought I can do something there. I like culture, getting to know different people. I realized I have good balance of going uphill and downhill, especially on rocky, technical terrain. I like even some scrambling. It is not easy to go and you have to find your own way. Things are never the same, so I was never bored in the mountain. One reason that I like trailrunning is that you do not have to check your pace with watch. You just plan how much effort you need to the next summit, down to next aid station. There is always something new awaiting. Even if you run ultra distance, your time will pass by quickly.
Koichi: STY 92k is the longest distance for you. How do you manage yourself tomorrow?
Michael Kabicher: Trans Alpine Run is my favorite and its total distance amounts to 255km. I love it probably because it’s a stage race for seven days. But 92km in single stage is a big challenge because I have not run that long in one day. So, my plan is to cut that 92km into pieces, and tackle with them step by step. I will not try to think “how far to the finish?” on the course.
Koichi: Laetitia, how do you define your style of running?
Laetitia Pibis: I like both, steep trail and long distance. I started this sport with long races, while I did also a lot of sports and have been active. I even like to play rugby, aikido, gymnastic and triathlon. I started running to prepare for Ironman event. Then my interests go to two sports. One is hiking and mountaineering, and another is running. My mother told me, “In mountains, you have to wear good sturdy shoes. Running shoes is not for mountains.” But I tried and found it was really good in the mountains! Then I went to mountains with running shoes, and ran longer by longer. Maybe I have some mental strength to run long distance.
Koichi: What kind of your characteristic is good for long distance, endurance sport?
Laetitia Pibis: I create stories to keep on running. Micheal said he focus on just next aid station, not on finish line. In my case, I think of just going to next tree on the course! Yes, I’m kidding, but it is my strategy to divide objective into way smaller pieces. I also like meet people on the course. By talking to them, we share goal to make it. It is the emotional moment to finish with them, sharing the day and goal for a whole day.
Japanese trailrunners are dedicated people to the sport
Koichi: This is the first visit of BOA Running Team to Japan, and you might find something different in our sport from you home country.
Laetitia Pibis: I have some experience in Europe and US, and I found Japanese trailrunning is more closer to ours in Europe. We use backpacks, technical apparel, and trekking poles.
Michael Kabicher: I think Japanese trailrunners are more dedicated, and pay more attention to details of the sport. We learned that Japan has strong long distance runners in its history, and assume they plan on training in detail to achieve their target. Level of competition is quite high in Japan. So it is interesting to see how the two races go, what happens in race tomorrow. We also see more and more Japanese people coming over to Europe for racing for not only UTMB and Trans Alpine Run, but also other races in the Alps. I like to know that there is more exchange happening in the globe year by year.
Boa®︎ Fit System is to adjust shoe fit quickly and precisely on different terrain
Koichi: Would you tell me how Boa®︎ Fit System works in trailrunning shoes?
Michael Kabicher: The main advantage of Boa®︎ Fit System on new adidas Terrex Two Boa is that you can adjust fit of your shoes on different terrains on trail. You just adjust with one hand to loose or tighten. I personally like to have more blood flow in my feet on uphill, so will loose it down. When you roll down steep decent, you will like to hold the shoes secured. Then you reach down your shoes and click the wheel to have tighter fit. When you run ultra, like 100k or 100 mile, you may get debris in your shoes. You can pop the wheel up, and dump them out pretty quickly. Next moment, you can keep on running. In 100 mile run, runners may change shoes to prepare for terrain of coming miles. Boa®︎ Fit System give them perfect fit even in quick change of shoes.
Boa®︎ makes running more enjoyable with less stress
Koichi: In addition to shoe fit adjustment, Boa®︎ may solve our classic problem, loosing shoe laces.
Michael Kabicher: You his the right point. Before the race starts, everyone gets somewhat nervous about their equipment, and you may make sure your shoe laces with double knot, or triple knot. With Boa®︎ Fit System, you just click the wheel and you never worry about lace knots. Even if you like to get tighter fit when count down starts, you just click it up. The benefit is huge when you are free from anxiety of shoe fitting, and allows you to concentrate on your own run and race.
Koichi: Thank you, you two will run 92km STY tomorrow. Are you free from stress with Boa®︎ Fit System now?
Laetitia Pibis: Exactly, I even made a wish for good race at shrine near Kawaguchiko. I can’t wait to toe the start line tomorrow.
Post-interview note: Boa®︎ Fit System brought evolution to fit of trailrunning shoes
Although we have found new trends and features in trailrunning shoes, most brands are relatively conservative in its shoe laces. It had been the solely function to keep shoes tight. It sounds simple idea to adjust shoe fit to different terrain of trail during activity. Boa®︎ Fit System made this idea realistic for the first time. Right after this interview, we hit trail with adidas Terrex Two Boa and how comfortable it is to adjust shoe fit quickly with wheel.
It was our pleasure to interview Michael and Laetitia in Japan, and my hat goes off to them with their solid results in STY, just one week off from Korea 50k. We hope to write more on Boa Running Team soon.
(Sponsored by Boa Technology Japan)