If there’s a race made for Kilian Jornet, it might just be Alaska’s Mount Marathon Race, which runs up-and-down a 3,022-foot (921-meter) mountain on gnarly terrain in a little over 5k without a set course. In the following interview, Kilian talks about how it’s not hard to quickly follow a short race with a long one, what impresses him about Mount Marathon, what makes running historical races special, and what he thinks about Alaska’s special mountain running culture.
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Kilian Jornet Pre-2015 Mount Marathon Race Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Mauri Pagliacci of iRunFar here with Kilian Jornet in the previews of the Mount Marathon Race. How are you?
Kilian Jornet: Good. Excited to be here in Alaska. It’s a beautiful country and a nice place and the race also is wonderful.
iRunFar: You went a huge long way from Spain to the Mount Marathon Race. We all know it’s kind of a short race, but what got you inspired to be here?
Jornet: I heard of the race first I think from some American runners, and then it was Rickey Gates who did the race. He said, “Wow, this is a beautiful race. You should go one time.” For the last years I wanted to come, but it was difficult. Last year it was Chamonix [at the Skyrunning World Championships] and then Hardrock. This year I had the possibility to come, so yeah, I needed to come.
iRunFar: You have Hardrock in one week. How does it fit in your calendar and your fitness?
Jornet: I think it’s easy to go from short to long because it’s not very difficult. Last year I did a vertical K in Chamonix and the marathon and Hardrock one week after, and it was okay. I think it’s harder when you do a short race after a long one. In this order, it’s always easy.
iRunFar: Regarding the technical and as technical as the race is, do you think you’ll probably take care of it for your legs or with all the excitement of the race will you just go and do?
Jornet: Yeah, I don’t think much about the races after because the level is really high here, so I will need to push a lot to have a good position. I will not think about Hardrock. Anyway, it’s a race, so you give everything to the finish line. From the day after it’s one week to Hardrock, so it’s a long time.
iRunFar: Outside of the competition and the race itself, what do you feel of the soul or the spirit of this race?
Jornet: Yeah, it’s really cool to be here. It’s an old race. This year is the 100th year. It’s crazy when you see how technical it is and that it’s most like everything around, it’s the junior race that kids from seven years old, they do the technical parts. It’s really impressive seeing that this started 100 years ago. We think of the sport of trail running as ‘new,’ but when we see races like this that we go through the history of the sport and it’s really good to be here and to be part of this history.
iRunFar: You’ve run long-history races like Sierre-Zinal and Western States and this one, too. Do you find something in common with all these old races that make our sport?
Jornet: Yes, it’s true like Sierre-Zinal or Western or here, you feel that the community is really strong around the race. All the villagers are really proud of the race. Everybody in the area… it’s really something special. Here, the name of the mountain, Mount Marathon, is because of the race. Everybody in the village is doing the race or has raced. It makes a deep connection between the community and the sport of trail running. So it’s really good to be here and in one of the races.
iRunFar: How do you feel this heart and soul and spirit races can modify or keep the spirit of trail running alive in future years?
Jornet: Yes, a race like this is incredible because it’s technical and it’s a short race but it really keeps to the rules of what I feel is mountain running. [pause: waiting for a plane to pass] I feel races like Mount Marathon are really important for the sport because of the history. Here in Alaska particularly, it feels like it’s a community. There are a lot of runners, really young runners, a lot of people doing mountain running. You don’t see this in other places. I’m really excited to come here and see it’s not only Mount Marathon. I was thinking that when I first heard about the race, Okay, it’s a beautiful race in Alaska. Then I knew a bit more about the races here. Every weekend they have a technical race like this one. It’s so great for the running. In Alaska, mountain running and trail running are really in the people. I think it’s important for the future of the sport to have places like here that they have a lot of races but they love to run outside. As I say, all the kids, and to have so many young people that love this sport and they are involved, it’s cool. It makes the future of our sport really good.
iRunFar: Thank you very much for your time. Enjoy the weekend here.
Jornet: Yes, sure. It will be good. Hopefully the mountain will dry and it will be nice conditions. It will be a fun race.
iRunFar: Best of luck.