Jules-Henri Gabioud from La Fouly in Valais fell in love with trail running in 2003; he has since turned his hobby into his career. He has taken part in many races and has won several including the Trail Verbier St-Bernard, the Tor des Géants and the Ultra Trail Atlas Toubkal in Morocco.
His passion for trail running began thanks to his brother and the UTMB.
In 2003, the UTMB (Ultra Trail du Mont-Blanc) passed through La Fouly and Champex. Jules-Henri Gabioud went to watch the race with his mother and brother. Seeing the runners, he remembers thinking “they were totally crazy.” Afterwards, his brother decided to compete in the UTMB as a trail runner. Jules-Henri was too young to take part, so he signed up as a volunteer and followed his brother. Seeing him run, he thought: “I really want to do that!” And now he has made a career out of it.
The importance of sharing a passion.
Jules-Henri Gabioud has created his own company, AlpsXperience, through which he offers training courses in trail running. The runner from La Fouly attaches great importance to passing on his enthusiasm: “It’s a real pleasure to share my experience. My aim is to help advise people, to encourage them to train, to enjoy themselves and raise the bar in steps. You start with short distances and increase progressively. I try to teach them some humility. I emphasise the values of trail running and the fact that the important thing is to finish, not to win.
This discipline is currently booming.
Jules-Henri Gabioud sees the sport’s popularity as a search for freedom. He reckons “people don’t want just to run on roads any more, they want adventure. Trail running is also very accessible if you stick to shorter distances.” The freedom of being in the mountains, exploring, adventure and pushing your limits – all these attract more and more people to trail running.
Valais has everything to become a key destination for trail running.
For Jules-Henri Gabioud, “Valais is heaven for trail running. We have everything here: magnificent mountains, a variety of landscapes, lots of trails, an extensive public transport network and the chance to run in all four seasons.” Valais is a wonderful outdoor playground, but unfortunately not well-known yet. “Foreign trail runners know La Fouly and Champex because we are lucky enough to have the UTMB, which passes that way. That race has really put Valais on the world trail running map. Now we hope that other races, like the SwissPeaks, succeed in promoting the whole canton,” says Jules-Henri Gabioud.
Photographs : AlpsXperience and Trail Verbier St-Bernard
Published : April 2019