For the first time in a long while, Kilian Jornet was straight-up out run at a trail ultra. That said, he did take second at the 2017 UTMB, which he considers to be the most competitive ultramarathon he’s ever run. In the following interview, Kilian talks about why he raced UTMB for the first time in many years, how the race played out at the front, and where he’s headed next.
Check out our in-depth results article to find out what happened at UTMB 2017!
Kilian Jornet Post-UTMB Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Bryon Powell of iRunFar here with Kilian Jornet after his second-place finish at the 2017 UTMB. Congratulations, Kilian.
Kilian Jornet: Thank you very much.
iRunFar: What brought you back to UTMB after these years?
Jornet: It was easy. If you do long ultras and you see the field, it was the place to be. For sure I have been studying a bit the depth of races in different sports and in short and long distances, and in ultra races, if you see 10% of the racers finishing after the first place, it’s only one or two persons. It’s never been a huge field in any race. Here, it was the place where it was possible. We saw at the end there was seven athletes in 1 hour 17 minutes. That’s big motivation to come to a race where there are all of the best.
iRunFar: For you it was the strongest ultramarathon field you’ve ever been in?
Jornet: Yeah, I think so. I think Western States the first year of the race it was also a huge field, 2010. It was a big field. But here it was more, I think, because it was impossible to see who would be in the top 10. It was like 30 persons could be there.
iRunFar: Even throughout the race you were having a good battle with Jim [Walmsley] and François [D’haene]. When did that all… when did the winner get decided? When did François make his definitive move?
Jornet: Actually, we were running together and it was really fun to run with Jim all this part of the race, because I’ve never run with him. With François, it’s always a pleasure, because he’s such a good runner. We were racing to Courmayeur altogether. Then, I needed to stop longer in the station to change my shoes, and, then, I had some problems. I was eating a lot, so Jim and François started some minutes before. So then I was always going some minutes behind them up to Switzerland. Then, I saw Jim was stopping there for a while. François was pushing really hard. I was still losing some minutes in the first part, and, then, at the end I started to feel better and tried to catch him a bit. In Vallorcine he was too far in front. I am super happy with the race. Yeah, it’s nice when you give everything.
iRunFar: If it’s not too personal, at the top at La Flégère, you come over the top and start walking downhill. Emelie [Forsberg] just runs up from behind and starts talking to you, and you start running again.
Jornet: Yeah, she’s more competitive than me, I think. She’s like, “You should run.” No, I don’t think she said that, but she said something like that probably.
iRunFar: You continue your season from here?
Jornet: Yeah, there are still two races left. In two weeks is Glen Coe Skyline in Scotland, and before or after that I want to try the Bob Graham Round which has been motivating me for a while. It’s the history of fell running, and being the history of fell running means it’s the history of running in the mountains and ultrarunning. Then to finish Ultra Pirineu in Spain, but I don’t know if I’ll run the ultra or the marathon.
iRunFar: The Bob Graham Round is such a historic thing. Obviously, you know about the record. Do you think you can do it just showing up and running the route? Navigation is an issue at that.
Jornet: Yeah, navigation is important at Bob Graham, so I want to go there and check some days and do all the route at once and then rest a bit, and then go back. We will see how the weather and everything looks to find the best days. Yeah, navigation is important.
iRunFar: Your shoes, they’re public now, your Salomon Mesh. How did they perform and what do you like about them?
Jornet: What I like about them is the comfort and mostly in ultra races. It has no hard points in the shoe. It’s like you have a sock, so it’s really comfortable and mostly for long races and also I’ve been running short races with them like Mont-Blanc Marathon, Zegama last year, or Sierre-Zinal. I think the big advantage is that it’s custom to every foot and, then, the second one is the comfort. We are working with that, and we have different prototypes. What’s good in the project is we can do a lot of things on them. Some things work super good and some things are a bit less, but it’s an exciting moment to see all the things we can do for the future with this.
iRunFar: With UTMB this weekend, was it the most exciting race in a long time for you?
Jornet: This year I’ve only done four races and all were exciting. Mont-Blanc Marathon just coming off the Himalayas was really hard. Hardrock is always special. It’s not exciting with the field—it was a good field, too—but it’s always special there. Sierre-Zinal for sure in short distance, like UTMB in ultra-distance, both were super exciting because you can win or be 20th and you’ll push the same.
iRunFar: Congratulations on another great run. It’s great to see you excited. Enjoy your autumn.
Jornet: Thank you.