After trying to get in for a few years, Kilian Jornet finally gets to take on the Hardrock 100 this week and he sure is excited! In the following interview, Kilian talks about what he’s most excited about at Hardrock, what his goals are for the race, and how the race differs from other American races he’s run, as well as giving some tips for dealing with altitude.
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Kilian Jornet Pre-2014 Hardrock 100 Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Bryon Powell of iRunFar here with Kilian Jornet before the 2014 Hardrock 100. Kilian, how excited are you to run Hardrock?
Kilian Jornet: Yeah, really excited. This is the third time I was in the lottery, so I’m really happy for being here. It’s an historical race. It’s really an amazing ambiance and beautiful mountains, so I’m really excited to run here.
iRunFar: Yeah, you were here this past winter doing some skimo?
Jornet: Yes, we were in December in Telluride and Ophir. It’s an amazing for skiing and was super-good powder, so I start to recognize a bit of the track but with the skis.
iRunFar: Now you’re here in the summer. How different is it here?
Jornet: In the winter we were really cold and now it’s super warm. So it’s kind of different. Beautiful mountains anyway. In winter it was just super good snow. In summer it’s nice trails so you can run everywhere. It’s really fun for running.
iRunFar: It’s a little deceiving. The actual air temperature is not that hot, but the sun.
Jornet: Yes, the temperature when it’s cloudy is not hot, but in the sun at altitude it’s always heating. Yeah, I think during the race it will be hot and the probably in the afternoon some storms, some raining.
iRunFar: It will be dynamic.
Jornet: Yeah, sure. It’s very different landscapes here.
iRunFar: The mountains are always changing. You’ve actually gotten out on the course some. Where have you been out on the course?
Jornet: Yeah, it has been in the last 100k—so from the mile 60 to the finish. It’s not super technical, but it’s always on singletracks and it’s really beautiful. It’s pretty hard to finish, yeah, with the altitude, too. It will be a big challenge to finish.
iRunFar: Yeah, normally you do run to win and race fast. Are there races where you go into it thinking, Am I going to finish?
Jornet: Yeah, all the long races you need to think you need to finish first because it’s never… you can be in good shape, you can be strong, but you can have a lot of problems or injuries or stomach problems. It’s very important to keep calm and try to finish.
iRunFar: Is that your goal for a race like this? If things were to go wrong…
Jornet: Yes, I think the goal is to finish. Then of course if you are in shape and you finish, probably you finish in a good place. The goal is to come here to Silverton after some hours and if it can be in the first position, it’s better, but it will be a big battle.
iRunFar: You had some problems at Diagonale des Fous last year, yes?
Jornet: Yes, it was just after UROC and I’m not a road runner, so I had some problems in my knee from running the road. This year I haven’t been running the roads, so I hope my knees will be fine.
iRunFar: You are obviously one of the favorites to win this race and run strong.
Jornet: Not the only. It’s a lot of people.
iRunFar: No, that’s why I say one of the favorites. There’s a great field here. In addition to beating the other runners, do you also think about going for the course record? It’s very fast—23:23. Does that cross your mind or are you just here to win?
Jornet: It’s not in the mind, the record, but probably if people start strong I think the records are beaten when the races are fast. It’s a good field with many people that are able to run, I think, in under 24 hours this year. Probably if the race starts strong, yeah, we will see in Ouray if we’re in the time zone or not, but I think one of the top-10 athletes will be on the record stand.
iRunFar: If you were 30k or 20k out and you knew you were close, would you go for it? Would that motivate you?
Jornet: Yeah, sure. I think the race it’s like as going easy to Ouray and then that’s when you start to think about the race, about the record, or about winning. Until Ouray it’s just going, and then is when you can start to think about that.
iRunFar: You’ve now run a lot of races in the United States. How different does this seem than the races you’ve run here?
Jornet: I think it’s really technical and really nice trails and really… I think you have 20 meters of asphalt in all the race, so it’s really not a flat race. It’s really exciting to be here. I think it’s about the permissions in the national parks, and here it’s maybe a bit more open and you can run in more places. It means it’s a more mountaineering race.
iRunFar: One of the key aspects of this race is the high altitude. Do you have any tips for people like Jordi Saragossa who may be suffering from the altitude? Because you travel from sea level to altitude a lot, how do you get through that?
Jornet: Yes, I think the altitude you are more used to it when the body can record when you are at altitude. For example, when you are in the Himalayas in altitude and you come back in the spring, the body will acclimatize faster because it has the memories of the altitude. The more you are at altitude often, the more the body adapts faster. Then any time is different, too. You can have altitude sickness every time. It’s important to drink a lot and not push much—just stay at altitude and not do much intense exercise.
iRunFar: Do you ever have problems at altitude? We always see you as superhuman and going to all these extremes.
Jornet: I am lucky and have never had pain in the head or things like that, but of course when you pass the 5,000, 6,000 meters you start to go really slow. It’s like you are a bit drunk and you are a bit tired.
iRunFar: No 5,000-meter peaks here.
Jornet: No, but still, it’s a lot of passes at 4,000 meters. It’s never that you feel the altitude but after hours you start to feel that you don’t go as fast as you go normally.
iRunFar: It’s the same effort but you go more slowly.
Jornet: Yes, it’s just that.
iRunFar: Does it ever negatively affect your stomach—the high elevation?
Jornet: Not in the stomach. Normally when you are in high elevation, you eat less because you are less hungry. In the race you need to force yourself to eat.
iRunFar: You’ll do that?
iRunFar: Is there anything in particular you’re excited about for this weekend?
Jornet: Yes, just the race. I think it’s just all about the town; it’s really iconic. The people, the organizers, all the volunteers—it’s really beautiful ambiance. It’s not the race. It’s just a part. To be here, it’s just amazing.
iRunFar: Yeah, one amazing thing this year is the depth of the field, especially the top five or so. These are people you’ve run with at other races before. Are you excited to be out there with Sébastien [Chaigneau] and Julien [Chorier] and Dakota [Jones] and Timmy [Olson]?
Jornet: Yeah, sure, it’s so many people. It’s Timmy, Dakota, Julien, Seb, [Tsuyoshi] Kaburaki—it will be a… I think we will run together for a long time. I’m waiting for that.
iRunFar: Do you expect you guys to be talking away?
Jornet: Yes, of course. We are in these mountains, so we need to enjoy the landscapes. A long race is like a long run or long training. People don’t go for the victory as in the short race where it’s from the beginning. Here it’s more just running, running, running and then the people that are stronger, they just keep going. The people that are less strong, they start to think to finish and they slow down.
iRunFar: Nice. Well, best of luck and enjoy the Hardrock 100.
Jornet: Thank you very much.
iRunFar: An actual one bonus question for you, Kilian. Been seeing great pictures that you take here in the San Juans and all over the world. Is that something that you embrace? What is your relationship with photography?
Jornet: I’m not a good photographer, but I just like to take the moments and to take pictures to share and to put my eyes in the other person. It’s about that.
iRunFar: In some ways, obviously your athletic accomplishments inspire a ton of people, but you sharing the mountains through your photographs does the same thing.
Jornet: Yeah, it’s important to share, to communicate, to learn, to give, and to take. Seeing a photograph is a part of that.
iRunFar: Thank you and keep sharing.