Kilian Jornet, 2015 Hardrock 100 Champion, Interview
For the second-straight year Kilian Jornet came to the Hardrock 100 and, for the second-straight year, he set a new course record, this time in the counterclockwise direction on this annually alternating course. In the following interview, Kilian talks about what it was like to race Hardrock in the opposite direction, what happened when he went off course, what he thought about the final official Hardrock finish, where he had a low spot, how little running he did before the race, where he’ll be racing next, and whether he plans to come back to Hardrock again next year.
For more on how the race went down, read our 2015 Hardrock 100 results article.
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Kilian Jornet, 2015 Hardrock 100 Champion, Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Bryon Powell of iRunFar here with Kilian Jornet after his win at the 2015 Hardrock 100. Congratulations, Kilian.
Kilian Jornet: You, too! Congratulations! You had a good run!
iRunFar: Thank you! Yeah. You did as well. You set another course record at Hardrock.
Jornet: Yes, this is anecdotic. It’s just fun. It’s nice to run both sides because we have not eyes in the back, so we need to do the other direction to see the landscapes. They are so unequalled too.
iRunFar: Did it seem much different, the course, going in the opposite direction?
Jornet: It’s different. I think the uphills are much more runnable in this direction. Yeah, it’s different. It’s beautiful the same, I think. I think when you feel good, it’s not one that gets harder or more than hard, I think.
iRunFar: Did you enjoy seeing what was the end of the course last year that you didn’t get to see? Did you enjoy that?
Jornet: Yeah, actually, that is nice. The night part of last year is the day today and the opposite. It’s cool that in two years we see all the race in light. Last year we had the sunset at Handies Peak—it was amazing. This year we have it in Virginius, and it was amazing, too. It’s just wonderful to do the same race and see different landscapes and different mountains.
iRunFar: The course landscapes are very different. Going around Pole Creek, there are 15k and it’s an open valley. There’s nothing like that at the end of the course.
Jornet: No, it’s really different like from the last downhill here or going up Oscar’s Pass is completely different. Last year it was so fun going down like just jumping the rocks. This year it’s like, Okay, here we need to go up, so you’d take two steps up and one down. Yeah, it’s cool. It’s technical and different, too.
iRunFar: Did you actually find it difficult to get up Grant-Swamp Pass?
Jornet: It was okay. I was taking my time. I was walking well. It was before that we got lost. That was a bit harder with the snow. This year it was… I was expecting more snow, but going up there it was a lot, a lot of snow and it was breaking. You’d put in the feet and break to the knees or up where you have not skin on the calf.
iRunFar: Yeah, you’re postholing and your shins are sore. That was Wasatch Basin after Telluride. You got lost there?
Jornet: Yes. I think all the first ones got lost.
iRunFar: Everyone got lost there. I was lost there.
Jornet: Not many people went straight except Adam Campbell, he’s like that. It was… yeah, a mistake. I had it on my GPS file and I was a bit tired. I say, Okay, I think it’s this pass, but I think I’m a bit not in a good position. So I just looked at the GPS and it was 100 meters on the right. So I went to cross, but it was too much snow.
iRunFar: I think I did the same exact thing. I pulled out the same GPS track. You’ve got to go that way.
Jornet: But there’s something wrong. The snow won’t hold, so you just break like two to five meters. You just stand, like 10 meters, you just try to…
iRunFar: Even if your pacer is ahead of you, you still have to go in and out. So tired. Did you get… were you upset at all when you got lost? Where was your mind?
Jornet: No, I wasn’t upset about that. It was my mistake absolutely. The only thing I was upset about was I was hurting myself so much, the legs breaking the ice. No, it was fun. It’s mountains. It’s that that is calling in a race like that. You accept the conditions. You know you’re going to run in the high mountains and that the conditions are like that and you need to be prepared for that. It’s not like you just follow the markers every five meters in a run. It’s being out there to have a perspective and knowledge of the mountains for a full day.
iRunFar: Speaking of the conditions, how was the weather for you?
Jornet: Actually, the weather was crazy this year. Every 30 minutes it was changing—30 minutes of hard rain, 30 minutes of sun, 30 minutes of snow, 30 minutes of sun—during all the course. It was all the time like that. It wasn’t bad because it wasn’t warm. Last year it was pretty warm in Ouray. This year it was pretty cold. It was easier to run. It was never too long, the storms, so you never get really worried about it.
iRunFar: Not like last year where it rained the whole night.
Jornet: Yes, it rained all the night and it was getting so cold and hot. This year there were storms but 10 minutes after it was sun. It’s crazy how fast it changes this year.
iRunFar: How many times did you have to take the jacket on and off?
Jornet: Yeah, it was good training. I don’t know, 20 times?
iRunFar: Like training for skiing with putting your skins on?
Jornet: Yeah, the same.
iRunFar: I wasn’t trained for that. I need a better transition. What was your favorite part of the race?
Jornet: This year it was going up to Virginius because we had the sunset there. It was just amazing. I was there with Rickey Gates. He was pacing me from Ouray to Telluride. We were up there. We just came and it was just this light… all the clouds red on both sides of the pass. It was amazing. We stand there and take some food that was cooking. I didn’t take a shot this year. I just put the lips in. Rickey take for me. We were just hanging there for some minutes just looking around. It was amazing.
iRunFar: Do you have a favorite story from the race?
Jornet: There are many. I think it was amazing today, this morning, I wake up to go to the last hour of the finishers. There were many racers in the last hour. I don’t know how many people but like 10 of them they came. The last one was like 30 seconds from the 48 hours and he was 600 meters from the finish line and everybody was shouting at him, “COME ON!” Nobody was looking at him. Everyone was, “Come on! Come on!” looking to the watch, looking to the watch. He was sprinting crazy sprint. He kissed the rock one second before the 48 hours. That was amazing.
iRunFar: Incredible. Incredible to see that, and to have someone like that push so hard to finish. It’s the whole range of experience. You had an incredible time. What was your final time?
Jornet: 23:28 or something? I think something like that.
iRunFar: To see the whole range of physical abilities and what we’re capable of.
Jornet: Yeah, it’s cool. It’s a great place because it’s hard running, you need to be fit and to train a lot, but it’s the conditions to be out this long in the mountains in some technical terrain. You know there will be storms. There will be some crazy conditions. You see everybody going through that. That’s amazing I think.
iRunFar: Did you have any struggles during the race?
Jornet: This year I was feeling really good, much better than last year. I was enjoying all the way. The moment I was a bit lot was only the last 300 meters up to Virginius Pass. I think I didn’t eat much before. Probably it was that I had a moment with low energy. After that, it turned good, and it was okay to the finish. Then, yeah, then the hard moment where I got lost, not to get lost, but to break the snow. It was hard to do some meters. If not then I was feeling pretty good.
iRunFar: That’s great. Do you have any big plans for the summer—any big projects or races?
Jornet: Not many races this summer. I was thinking, the plan was going to Everest to do some mountaineering there. So I didn’t want or I couldn’t do races in May and June. It was good because I could do a lot of things in the Alps. Conditions were perfect for climbing and skiing. I did a lot of that. Actually, this year I came to Hardrock and I think I have been running for sure less than 200 miles this year. Much less because I haven’t been running, maybe pure running, only 15 days. The rest was climbing and skiing so they were really good conditions. It was Mount Marathon and then here and now we go to Tromsø because we organize a race. I will change papers—I will be behind. Then, in August I will focus more on climbing and mountaineering and in September I will come back to do some races.
iRunFar: You’ll go home?
Jornet: Yes, Cavalls del Vent, Ultra Pirineu—the first ultra I did when I was 13.
iRunFar: You were 13?
Jornet: Yeah, it was not the race, but hut-to-hut. I went running there. That will be… probably I will do Sierre-Zinal and Skaala Uphill and then Ultra Pirineu.
iRunFar: Alright. Sounds like a good couple months.
Jornet: Yes, I really enjoy to be here and to race. It’s beautiful, and now I’ll just take some time to enjoy climbing. That will be fun.
iRunFar: Do you think maybe you’ll come back next year or another year?
Jornet: Yeah, I want to come back for sure, probably next year. I don’t know what I will do next year if we go to Himalayas or what are the plans. I want to come back. Sure. It’s one of the races you want to come back not for wins but to put yourself and to try to have a good time and to try to go for a good time, but it’s also a race you want to do because it’s beautiful, the organization is great, and all the people. I want to come back just to be part of that or pacing or crewing.
iRunFar: That’s amazing because you have the opportunity to run whatever races and adventures you want.
Jornet: This one, no. Now I have the opportunity to go because I have been winning. So next year I have a place.
iRunFar: As long as you keep having that place… Congratulations, Kilian.
Jornet: And you, too.
iRunFar: It’s great to see you enjoy a race so much.
Jornet: Thank you.