Kilian Jornet’s mountain-running prowess knows no bounds, and he proved as much by winning and setting a new course record at the 2015 Mount Marathon Race. In this interview, Kilian describes how the uphill and downhill portions of the race played out, how the Mount Marathon course compares to technical European courses, and whether he thinks he’ll race Mount Marathon again next year.
Check out our results article for the full story on the race.
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Kilian Jornet, 2015 Mount Marathon Race Champion, Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Mauri Pagliacci here with Kilian Jornet, the 2015 Mount Marathon Race champion. Congratulations!
Kilian Jornet: Thank you very much.
iRunFar: How was this day that you sprinted a lot?
Jornet: This race is amazing. There are so many people watching the race. During all the course people are cheering on you. The race course is amazing. The uphill is just up, so steep, so hard, like the heart wants to explode. Then the downhill, you have some parts where you really can push and some parts where you need to take decisions and some parts are more technical, so it’s just the perfect race. The level was impressive.
iRunFar: How did it turn out? You got up with three of you together, but when did you go for yourself?
Jornet: Yeah, we started as a big group together. In the first part of the roads there was a group of six of us. In the quarter of the race we started to be a group of three with Rickey Gates pushing really hard in the uphill and Jim Shine keeping a really strong pace. I was keeping with them. I couldn’t go much faster. I wanted to keep energy for the downhill. They were really pushing very hard. Rickey, I think, wanted to be up quick to have chances for the downhill, so I just tried to stay with him knowing that in the downhill I would get my chance. When we came to the summit for the first minute I was pushing really hard in the downhill. Then I saw that I was in front of them, so I take it more easy to the finish. Anyway, it’s strong downhill runners here, so you can not be easy all the way.
iRunFar: Everything happens very quick. From you to Eric [Strabel] who was fourth and Nick [Elson] who was fifth was only two minutes. How can you compare it to another race? Is there a way to compare it?
Jornet: It’s a really fast race. It’s a short race, so it means racers will be within a few seconds. Here, 30 seconds makes a big difference versus an ultra. It’s applicable to a vertical kilometer with the same feeling and then you have a technical downhill behind. It’s a hard race to do, I think. It’s amazing the level of the Alaskans. They have a lot of good runners. It would be interesting to see these people in these kinds of races because they are really talented.
iRunFar: What do you think of a contingent of European people who do races like vertical k’s—how do you think they would do here?
Jornet: Yeah, I think it will be interesting if more European people come here because it’s a race that is really, really technical compared to races we have in Europe. A downhill like that in most races they will not allow to be. It’s interesting, that. I think if some European runners are good on technical, too, and they are good on downhill and on uphill, yeah, it’s a really specific effort. Yeah, I’d like to see more people from Europe that come here.
iRunFar: The same as Emelie [Forsberg], you’ve got the win, so now you can come back whenever you want.
Jornet: Yeah, soon, I think. I’m in love with these mountains and the wilderness here in Alaska and the race, too, the people around; it’s so cool. The race is amazing, but the organization and all the things, all the volunteers, it’s just a race you want to come back and do every year.
iRunFar: Now you have Hardrock next week. How do you feel? How do you think it’s going to be?
Jornet: Yeah, it’s good that I didn’t need to take many risks in the downhill. I did not fall or get injured, so I hope the recovery will be fast for this. I have two or three days to run a bit at Hardrock. Because I know it, I don’t need to check a lot, but I want to check some parts. I will see. It’s another race like this one that you want to do again because of the course and the people there. I’m really excited for Hardrock.
iRunFar: Now you’ll have your calendar fill up with races you must come back to.
Jornet: Yeah, it’s hard. I am racing less, but I’m racing some of the most beautiful races. Yeah, probably next year I should come back here. We’ll see with Hardrock how it goes.
iRunFar: Thank you very much for your time and congratulations on your victory in Alaska.
Jornet: Thank you.