Kilian Jornet Pre-2013 Transvulcania Ultramarathon Interview

In 2012, Kilian Jornet when straight from skimo season to La Palma to race Transvulcania. He ran well before fading to finish third. Again this year, he’s heading straight from snow to pumice for Transvulcania. In the following interview, Kilian talks about his skimo season, his transition to the trails, whether he’ll be drinking more this year, what races he’s focused on in 2013, and who he thinks will provide the greatest competition at this year’s race.

[Editor’s Note: We’ve previewed of the Transvulcnania men’s and women’s field and will provide live Transvulcania coverage on Saturday.]

[Click here if you can’t see the video above.]

Kilian Jornet Pre-2013 Transvulcania Interview Transcript

iRunFar: Bryon Powell of iRunFar here with Kilian Jornet before the Transvulcania. How are you doing, Kilian?

Kilian Jornet: I’m doing fine here in the heat and the warmth. It’s good for going to the beach.

iRF: You like the snow, but this is a nice break after a long ski season.

Jornet: Yes, sure it’s like holidays now. It was a long winter and really cold. Last Saturday in Mezzalama it was -15 degrees C. My fingers are still fighting it. Coming here, the beach, relaxing, like holidays.

iRF: How was your ski season this year?

Jornet: It was good ski season. I started with the World Cup until the World Championship. It was perfect weather for me. It was super good. I was in good shape. Then I camped in Nepal for one and a half months which was an incredible experience. It was great weather. It was a 10-kilo pack for going to the big mountains. It was a bit hungry and cold. It was super, super nice. From Nepal, I did the last World Cup in ski mountaineering and Mezzalama last week. That was a good race. It was a good winter with good skiing.

iRF: In running, as shown in A Fine Line, the movie, you’ve crossed off many of the big races you’ve wanted to win for running. So you’re doing some of these mountain projects. Is it the same with ski mountaineering? You’ve competed so much on those, so now you’re interested in going to Nepal?

Jornet: Sure, the motivation is changing and you need to reinvent yourself and do different things all the time. I keep enjoying racing and Skyrunning and ski mountaineering because I have much pleasure and much fun and sharing with the people, but the motivation for keeping training is more about these different projects with the summits on the skis or the running. I need more of that to be motivated.

iRF: To train hard?

Jornet: Yes, to train hard and to keep going.

iRF: You’re not going to disappear from racing.

Jornet: No, because it’s a world that I love. I love racing, not for the victories. When I started racing maybe I want to win the race one time, but now there are a lot of them that are done. I keep enjoying the racing not because we are stupid or masochists because we like to go hard and suffer, but it’s fun sometimes. Then the ambiance, I have a lot of friends there at the races, so it’s nice to see them again.

iRF: What races are you looking forward to the most this year?

Jornet: This year I want to race in Skyrunning in the Ultra Series, Skymarathon, and Vertical K. In the Ultra Series, I’m going to do Transvulcania, Ice Trail Tarantaise, and UROC. For Skyrunning [marathon] I’m going to do Zegama, Mont Blanc Marathon, Matterhorn Ultraks in Switzerland, and Limone. In Vertical K, I’ll run in Chamonix, Limone. Maybe then I’m going to see the Fully race.

iRF: You haven’t run vertical kilometers much the last couple of years, no?

Jornet: Yes, every year I run four to five vertical k’s. In France they are every week you have a vertical k. You haven’t heard of them because they are a lot of skimo’s and cross country skiers that go there. Yes, I’ve run three to five per year for the last 10 years.

iRF: I didn’t know. I though that you had run more in the past.

Jornet: Yes, when I started ski mountaineering 12 years ago, I started running some vertical k’s. Then when I started running Sky races six or seven years ago I started to do less, but still some.

iRF: Are they more low-key or relaxed in that you’re not stopping training for those? Are they more casual?

Jornet: The running’s not because it’s so hard…

iRF: Yes, in the race…

Jornet: It’s so short that if you run a vertical k in the morning, you can train in the afternoon and the day after you feel perfect. You’re just pushing for half an hour. It’s good for the training because you don’t need to stop or to recover after.

iRF: Do you focus on trying to take back the world record?

Jornet: That would be fun but there are not so many places you can go for the world record. For years the best one was in Switzerland. It’s in the end of season. Sometimes it’s with (at the same time as) Diagonale de Fous or with Malaysia [Kinabalu Climbathon]. This year it’s the week before the Diagonale de Fous, so maybe I go to Fully, Switzerland. Then Manfred Reichegger is a really good friend and he is really strong in it.

iRF: So you’re thinking about it.

Jornet: Yes, sure, when you’re in good shape why not to try?

iRF: What’s the record? Just about 30 minutes?

Jornet: It’s 30:40 or something like that. [Note: Urban Zemmer set the new world record in 2012: 30:26]

iRF: It’s possible for someone to go under 30 minutes?

Jornet: Yes, it’s possible to go under 30 minutes. We were talking with all of the racers and I think a person like Urban Zemmer or Manfred Reichegger who train well for vertical k or me if I’m in good shape and in perfect conditions it’s possible to go under 30 minutes.

iRF: This week, it’s La Palma and Transvulcania. Last year you ran into some difficulty.

Jornet: Yes, last year was hard. I was not adapted to the heat. I’m bad in the heat always. I have low pressure. I’m really bad in hot conditions. Here it was exceptional. I still enjoyed a lot of the race. I enjoyed running with Dakota [Jones]. The last 8k were really hard, but it was still nice.

iRF: Have you changed anything? Have you done more running before this year?

Jornet: I think prior to today, I’ve run six days? That’s better than last year which was two days.

iRF: So you’ve tripled your days.

Jornet: I think it doesn’t matter to run more or less for the flat years, but the up years are still okay. I stayed here for one week (this year), so I hope it’s going to work better.

iRF: It’s a little bit cooler.

Jornet: Yes, it’s a little bit colder and a little windy in the region, so yeah—touch wood.

iRF: In some of your races, you carry very little water. In the heat have you tried running with more water?

Jornet: Yes, I need to carry more water. I don’t like to carry things so it’s hard, but I need to carry more water. I’m mentalizing that I need to carry water; I need to drink water; I need to take salts. I hope on the day of the race I’m going to be right for that.

iRF: Who do you think is going to be your big competition this weekend?

Jornet: It’s interesting because there a lot of good and possible winners of the race. I think we are probably six or seven of us that can fight for the victory. Everyone is in a different moment and a different technique. We have Sage Canaday and Cameron Clayton and they are really strong on the flat. At this moment they have been running for a long time and are almost in the middle of their season. I think they’re going to start super fast and going to make us strong pace in the first kilometers. They do well on the distance. I think they are not really good on the technical, so maybe if we can’t keep with them for long, maybe in the technical part we can go away. They’re still really strong. Timothy Olson is really experienced in the long races and in the heat, so he’s going to fight well. He’s not a super technical guy but he’ll run well. Then we have Tony [Krupicka] who is quite good on technical and the downhill, so he’ll race well and we’ll have a good race with him. After last year where he didn’t race so much, he’s going to be very motivated for racing and he’ll be at the front. I think one of the most competitive guys will be Luis Alberto [Hernando]. Nobody knows him in America because he races Sky races, but he’s my (with Marco De Gasperi) best competitor for the last three or four years. He’s really strong in uphills—he’s really, really strong in uphills. He’s a good downhiller. He’s not like Marco but almost. He was running fast in flats this winter, so he’s going to be ready for the race.

iRF: So he’s someone to watch for the Americans—Luis Alberto Hernando.

Jornet: Yes. Then Francois d’Haene had a good season and I think he can be good here. With Miguel [Heras] for a year or two, they’re going to be in good shape.

iRF: Do you think this course will be a little fast for Francois because he likes the mountains?

Jornet: He’s good in fast. Maybe in the downhills he’s not as strong, but in the uphills and running fast, he’s very strong. He will be good. He’s in a good mood now as he’s relaxing with his running and he’s doing races, so he’s going to be well.

iRF: I hope you have a good race out there and have a good last 8k or 5k.

Jornet: Yes, I hope so. Yes.

iRF: It’s great to see you again and have you back on the trails.

Jornet: Yes, thank you.

Bonus Question

iRF: One bonus question for you. You’re coming to the States for UROC. Are you going to stay any more time other than the race?

Jornet: I want to stay more, yes. I need to plan it with my director. I want to stay more as there are some nice things to do. I was talking with someone and there are nice things to do in the mountains there. I want to spend more time there. Maybe I’ll come back to the Tetons. I want to go to Alaska, but probably next year. I hope to stay a bit more.

iRF: We hope you stay longer.

Jornet: Thank you.

There are 12 comments

  1. Dean G

    Wow. 6 whole days of running before this race… That's an eternity for KJ. Ha!

    Interesting comments about motivation, his time in Nepal, and the the impact of the temperature on him… Race day conditions will be crucial…

    There are at least 6 guys that could win where I would read the results and say, "yeah, that makes sense…"

    Gonna be epic

    -Dean

    P.S. — I would love to be able to go all out in a vertical K and the next day not even feel it. Enjoy it while you're young, KJ.

  2. Dave T.

    Do a vertical K in the morning and still train in the evening?!!

    Pass out during a race and at the finish and still say it was a nice race?

    Transvuclania is super easy (referring to its technicality)?

    I would like to see Kilian and Anton hit Longs Peak together when Kilian visits the US.

  3. Mark

    These days there is Kilian, then vacuum, and finally the other runners – with all due respect. Strong and classy champion. Running with him must be quite an experience.

  4. Jonathan

    Great interview Bryon!

    I love all the ultra marathon runners and have so much respect for them all, but Killian will always be my favourite!

  5. Kev

    i can't wait to see how sage handles killian, or is it killian handles sage? either way, it'll be fun seeing all those guys up front.

  6. Marc

    Killian previews this race perfectly. To win this race requires a mix of speed w/ technical running abilities. We all know Killian is one of the best climbers out there, but his technical decent is insane also. I predict a Killian victory, coming from behind in the long decent in the last 1/3 of the course.

  7. Tim

    Who else coudl get away with saying 'Then we have Tony [Krupicka] who is quite good on technical and the downhill'…Is he only quite good..?

    Love the turn of phrase. KJ just insane ability and attitude.

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