Kilian Jornet 2012 Zegama Marathon Champion Interview

Kilian Jornet rebounded from a rough final few kilometers at Transvulcania last week to win the 2012 Zegama-Aizkorri Marathon in near course record time. In the following interview, find out how his race went, how the conditions were out there, and what he thinks about the “rivalry” between the American and European runners.

Kilian Jornet 2012 Zegama-Aizkotti Marathon Champion Interview Transcript

iRunFar: Bryon Powell here with Kilian Jornet after his win at the 2012 Zegama-Aizkorri Marathon. How did it go out there today?

Kilian Jornet: Yeah, today is a great day. I said it was difficult because it was raining and snowing, but the champions today were not the athletes, but the spectators that come to the mountain in the cold and they stay to push us!

iRF: Yes, there were thousands of people out there. So you were really impressed with how many came out in the bad conditions.

Jornet: Yeah. Zegama is this: all the ambiance, the spectators, the thousands coming to the mountain. I think this is a special thing.

iRF: What do you think went better for you today than a week ago at Transvulcania?

Jornet: I think I feel the same. My form is the same as a week ago as there’s not the training yet. First of all the heat. Here was very cold and I feel better than in hot conditions. In Transvulcania, I felt really good but it was just the last 10km I fall, so I’m happy for this beginning of the season.

iRF: So maybe it’s an advantage to have a shorter race when you’re less trained (less running trained).

Jornet: Yes and it depends on the distance. In a 100km race, you’re fresh at 80km. In a marathon like here, at 10km from the end you are fresh, too. You think just about the distance. It’s not more tired with the longer distance.

iRF: How did the race actually go? How was the competition?

Jornet: The race was really high. We started really strong the first kilometers with Luis Hernando and Max King. In the first uphill, we go with Luis. Luis runs really fast in uphills with the poles. I say if we run together in the finish line, he’ll run really fast, too. I scored in the technical part, I took some risk for falling.

iRF: How was the downhill? It’s wet, there’s rocks… did you fall?

Jornet: It was perfect!

iRF: It’s like skiing?

Jornet: It was very technical because there’s a lot of rocks, a lot of water, very slippery, so we need to take really care and some risks to go fast.

iRF: One thing I wanted to talk to you about is on the internet, there are a lot of fans who make a big deal about US vs. Spain and US vs. Europe…

Jornet: It’s just the internet. The media is like this. Out there we are like a family. We are all the same. We love mountains; we love trying (training); we love competition. It is not if I’m Spanish or American or Frenchman, we think all the same. We’re friends.

iRF: Very good. I’m glad to hear that. Best of luck in your training for the next month, and I’ll see you in Squaw Valley!

Jornet: Yes! See you there!

There are 41 comments

  1. Mark T

    From the great USA- Congratulations Kilian! You continue to amaze. Looking forward to your races here state-side.

  2. Fernando N. Baeza

    First off, congratulations to the defending champs for witholding the title, and to the rest of the competitors for finishing such a hard race. And to Bryon, as always, for unwavering dedication to bringing all ultra fans great coverage and great interviews. Fernando N. Baeza

  3. Dave evans

    Awesome performance from kilian – perfect response to trans vulcania, Running out of superlatives to describe this guy and what he is doing. Long may it continue

  4. Alex

    So Bryon, we can't see it on the video, but I'm thinking that might just be a VQ issue. But maybe you can help, since you were there, in person. Basically, I'm just wondering if you can see the red-glow of Killian's cyborg eyes through the lenses the mad scientists at Salomon have rigged up? It's really a pretty convincing disguise, but I think I've got it figured out.

  5. Santiago

    Well said Kilian "We are like a family. We love all the same. We love mountains.We love trail. We love competition…"

  6. Rob

    You can't help but love Killian. Class act. So looking forward to seeing him at WS. Wonder if a real hot year will slow him down.

  7. CJ

    Killian is a class act indeed. Humble, yet a lion of a competitor once the gun goes off. I'm personally looking forward to hopefully seeing him and Matt Carpenter go head to head at Pikes Peak. That would be a thrill to watch play out

  8. Alex from New Haven

    Looking forward to his US barn storming tour, Pikes Peak in particular. While it's natural to set up a "Kilian vs Carpenter" thing, that doesn't feel right to me. What excites me if Kilian vs the mountain and vs history and to find out how he responds to that much altitude. If Carpenter races and even stays close to Kilian it will be a say just how great a mountain runner Carpenter is.

    my mind is totally blown by how fast he recovers…

    1. Matthieu Lefort

      What is even more mind-blowing is his natural ability to switch between skimo and trail running in such a short time. His former skimo coach said last year that Kilian was able to adapt his body in just 15 days, while others athletes doing the same had to spend at least two months of specific workouts to be ready to hit the trails on a raceday. Insane. But so awesome.

    2. CJ

      Matt has nothing left to prove in the mountain running community. His 1993 records at Pikes Peak are truly something to behold. I just think it would be cool to see a 47 year-old legend show a 24 year-old superstar who's King of "America's Mountain".

      1. David T

        I hope Matt runs. If Matt looses to Kilian it would be a poetic way to go out and pass the torch to the new king. If he wins it would honestly not surprise me and it would be an awesome way to go out.

      2. dogrunner

        I think it would be cool to see Matt run, but who wins means nothing really. We already know both are amazing mountain runners. Matt is 20+ yrs older (and still better than nearly everyone on Pikes Peak at least) so it would be something if he won, but if not, so what? It would not diminish his legacy. And it would be just another mountain that Kilian ran faster up on that day. Not a huge surprise, given his abilities and history. Both are legends.

            1. Reese

              Lovely! I was there yesterday after my run up and down Pikes- though run appears to have been a glacial speeds compared to his..

    3. Walter

      Isn't Geoff Roes running as well? I wish I would be there to see this go down. Agreed that Matt has nothing left to prove. The age gap is huge but Matt won't go down easy.

  9. David T

    Amazing. Only a few days of training, giving his all the week before, and then dominating like this. Not to mention humble in victory and defeat.

    1. Thomas

      Good question Chris,

      how fast are those guys on the flat in 10k or half marathons or marathons.

      I am curious not just about Kilian but also other top Ultra runners.

      1. Bev

        Ellie Greenwood just won the Vancouver marathon, she ran it as a coming home run with friends and was surprised that she won.

  10. jjking

    I've run Zegama four times and I can assure that one of the most incredible things is that he took an advantage of 2 minutes through the most technical terrain in just a few 3 km. He takes some risk but his ability is just awesome.

    It was a pitty the bad weather yesterday. I hope the american trail runners will be back in Zegama next time.

    1. Ben Nephew

      Was there where the gap between Kilian and Max when from about 1.5 minutes to 5-6 minutes? Did he pull away from Luis at the same time as well? I was wondering what went on there. If we are talking about the same section, is it mostly uphill or downhill?

      1. jjking

        I'm not sure about that. I should have a look at the clasification when it's published with the partial laps.

        But the section where he took advantage over Luis is not really downhill. It's best described as technical terrain over rocky ridgeline. Continuous up and down and you have to watch every step. And yesterday it was completely wet. There are short and easy scrambling sections combined with narrow paths.

        1. Meghan Hicks

          Ben and jjking,

          At Sancti Spiritu, kilometer 19.6, Luis and Kilian came through together and Max about 70 seconds afterward. Tom Owens was, if I recall, just over 3 minutes back of the lead.

          The next checkpoint, Aizkorri, was about 4 kilometers up the course and 600 meters higher. There, Kilian and Luis arrived within a few seconds of each other, and Max passed through about 6 minutes later. I don't think we received a report on Tom Owens there.

          We next heard of the runners at the Urbia checkpoint, kilometer 30 or so. To get there from Aizkorri, runners: 1. traversed a high ridgeline and over the race's high point; 2. made the most technical and steep descent of the course, something like 400 vertical meters in just over a kilometer; and 3. did about 5 kilometers of rolling singletrack. At Urbia, Kilian led Luis by a minute. We didn't hear anything about Max or Tom.

          At kilometer 35, which was a 200 meter climb and 500 meter descent from Urbia, Kilian arrived 2:45 before Luis. And Tom Owens came through at 10 minutes back.

          Finally, by the finish line, Luis finished 4 minutes back to Kilian, Tom was 10 minutes back, and Max was almost 28-ish back.

          There was no part of the race where Kilian put a radical amount of time on Luis. To me, it appeared Kilian simply started putting time on Luis a bit after the race's midway point, then added to it little-by-little, all the way through the finish.

          1. jjking

            Well, after the steep descent you mention, Luis recovered one minute over the "flat" terrain before Urbia. But then, Kilian pulled up again, and recovered the advantage. It seems that Luis had an early ankle sprain, km8 or so, and then he could not keep the pace over the ridgeline. Maybe that explains what it happened.

            Anyway, despite the weather it was a great race day. I went with another two friends to see the race. We went there running through the mountains and we made 45km to Aizkorri. Simply great!

          2. Ben Nephew

            The separation between Kilian, Luis, and Max seemed pretty dramatic when I was reading the updates, I was wondering if it could have been explained by a steep downhill or technical section. Dropping the WMRA champ by that much on an uphill at 13 miles, I guess Kilian and Luis were climbing OK!

            1. CJ

              Max has admitted he's much better at the shorter (under 20mi) trail races and his results speak to that. He even admitted this race would stretch him with the terrain making it feel more like an ultra, especially with the fastest times being around 4hr. If this had been a half marathon, I think Max could have come out the winner. But Killian has certainly proven over and over that he thrives on knarly courses that you have to grind out

  11. Jeff Faulkner

    Kilian is such a true sportsman. As others have commented, he is as gracious in victory as he is when he's not on the #1 podium spot. It seems to me that this is the quality he embodies that draws so many fans to his camp.

    Congrats Kilian. And congrats Bryon on a stellar job covering another event we'd all love to be at. Your coverage takes the sting out of it for me.

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