Kilian Jornet ran one of the fastest Pikes Peak Marathon times in decades to earn his second title at the race. In the following interview, Kilian talks about when he knew Matt Carpenter’s record wasn’t in play today, why he kept racing hard, and where else he’ll race this season along with sharing his perspective on how the sport and he have changed over the past decade.
For more on how the race shaped up and for more interviews, check out our results article.
Kilian Jornet, 2019 Pikes Peak Marathon Champion, Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Bryon Powell of iRunFar here with Kilian Jornet after his win at the 2019 Pikes Peak Marathon. Congratulations.
Kilian Jornet: Thank you very much.
iRunFar: You didn’t get the record today, but you ran the fastest time since 1996.
Jornet: Yeah, I’m very happy. I knew that the Matt Carpenter record is something that happens like once in a century. I think I didn’t race today. I wasn’t feeling that good. I couldn’t climb very fast, but I’m very happy to do the run I did.
iRunFar: Did you wake up this morning, or when you did a warm-up, did you feel all right?
Jornet: I felt all right. In the warm-up, the legs were heavy but sometimes it happens like that and then you start. Cardio was good, but the legs were a bit heavy. Anyway, I was happy with the run. Anything under 3:30, it’s… yeah. I’m happy for that.
iRunFar: Yeah, and Ricardo Mejia’s time was amazing. He had so many great times at this race. Does that make you want to come back? I mean, you ran one of the fastest times ever here, but not quite the fastest.
Jornet: Yeah, by far. By over 10 minutes not the fastest. That’s crazy. Yeah, I want to come back to this race; it’s beautiful. It has been, well, since 2012, which is a long way. Hopefully, I come back in shorter time, yeah.
iRunFar: You used to have a list of the accomplishments that you might want to achieve. Was this on that list?
Jornet: Yeah, winning Pikes Peak was on that list. But now, yeah, I’m more like, “Oh, I want to do that race.” It’s a great one, it has a great ambience. Especially in years like this, the competition is always exciting.
iRunFar: You got to the top in what, 2:09?
Jornet: Yeah, something like 2:09.
iRunFar: And you know at that point that Carpenter’s time is untouchable.
Jornet: Yeah, I knew since the start. Like I said, the legs weren’t that good and already in Barr Camp I saw today wasn’t about going very fast and it was mostly about trying to win the race. Yeah, because on the uphill I knew there were strong guys behind.
iRunFar: In that situation do you… maybe not relax, but take your foot off the gas pedal a little bit on the ascent? Not go so crazy?
Jornet: Well, not really. It’s still a long downhill and a lot of things can happen. You can have cramps at the end. The last kilometers were hot, so if you were just relaxing then the gap is closing fast, especially because it was a big pack of guys just behind. They will be fighting strong behind, and they can catch you fast.
iRunFar: And when there’s more than a few of them, one of them can have that special day.
Jornet: Yeah, Sage Canaday did an amazing race, he was having a good day. And behind me, Marc Lauenstein, he’s an outstanding downhiller.
iRunFar: Like one of the best out there.
Jornet: Yeah, yeah, probably. One of the best, for sure.
iRunFar: So, presumably you qualify for the finals in the Golden Trail Series in the fall. Are you going to go?
Jornet: Yeah, that will be my next race, actually. Now, I’ll do a little relaxing, more climbing than running.
iRunFar: So, you’ve added a race to your schedule.
Jornet: Yeah, I knew that if I was going to be there [at the finals], I would have to qualify. I thought I would qualify, but you never know.
iRunFar: You’ll do that. Between now and then, will you spend most of your time in Chamonix, or go back home to Norway?
Jornet: Actually, I’m going to Chamonix because Emelie Forsberg is racing there next week. I will be there cheering and assisting her.
iRunFar: You’ll be crew?
Jornet: Yeah, I’ll be crewing her.
iRunFar: Is this your first time?
Jornet: I have done that like years ago. Especially this year, we have been crewing and racing, one race each. I love it. It’s even more exciting than racing because you’re there and you see people and you want to share.
iRunFar: I’ve seen you at UTMB at La Fouly and you’re excited just to cheer. But now you’re cheering on Emilie and helping her.
Jornet: Yeah, it’s so stressing. It’s much more stressing crewing than when you are racing.
iRunFar: So, obviously you know the front of the sport as well as anyone. Next weekend is UTMB. Who do you think will be at the front of the men’s field over there?
Jornet: I don’t know. I haven’t really read who’s there, but I think I will be a good shot for Americans to win UTMB, I think with Tim Tollefson and Zach Miller there. Then, Xavier Thévenard is always good there, so I wouldn’t be surprised if he wins. But, yeah, it will be exciting because I think at least a few guys that are up there–Pau Capell also has been preparing well. Yeah, it will be exciting.
iRunFar: You’ll follow that race a little bit? Not in person, maybe.
Jornet: Yeah, I will follow somehow. I don’t know if I’ll be in the field or if I’ll be following on your Twitter. But for sure, I will follow, yes.
iRunFar: Nice, that’s excellent. Well, congratulations on a great win here, and on a terrific time.
Jornet: Thanks so much.
iRunFar:Kilian, I have to ask you a bonus question. We met out at Tahoe Rim Trail in 2009. It was a few days short of a decade ago.
Jornet:Yeah! That’s some years, huh? Trail running has changed since then, huh?
iRunFar: You anticipated my question! Tell me: How have you seen trail running change in the last decade?
Jornet: I think it’s great that many events keep the same spirit. That’s something that’s so cool. When you go to races that have the same ambience. But, yeah, there’s so many more events. There’s so many more people who are racing. You can duplicate the number of events, like 100 miles and short races and participants. Yeah, I think it’s mostly that. The explosion, I think social media had a big impact on that, because social media started taking off around 2008/2009. I’m happier, in a way, that it keeps the same spirit–especially here in the U.S. more than some races in Europe. It’s more like friends going out, having fun, trying to give their best, but with this special connection between humans and nature that is…
iRunFar: What sort of races? Can you give an example?
Jornet: Well, for sure I think Hardrock 100 is one of the races that, I think, exemplifies this the most. But even here, at Pikes Peak, it’s a race that has a huge history, but I think, yeah, it’s about the personal challenge of every runner and this connection of being close to the mountains. Yeah, I think that’s something that is cool and it’s…
iRunFar: It’s probably like that at Zegama, as well.
Jornet: Yeah, older races. Zegama, even Sierre-Zinal, most of the races they keep this spirit.
iRunFar: Maybe because they have the history, they can stay true to the history?
Jornet: Even at new events, when people start new events, if it’s about that. I think it’s great that most of the races, they are open. You can go in the start and be a world champion and be in the same race as someone who is going to finish in double or triple your time. We are all experiencing the same thing. That is something that is rare in many sports, and it’s here.
iRunFar: And how have you changed in the last decade?
Jornet: A lot. I recover slower now, I drink less beer. In terms of running, I think I’m still improving. I think motivation has changed a lot for sure, because in 2009/2010, I really wanted to do well in some events, perform well in races. Now, racing is a good way to train and to keep motivated, but probably now my motivation is climbing and mountaineering things, so for sure that has changed.
iRunFar: Do you think you’ll do some more projects in that? Or do you think it will be more personal?
Jornet: Well, I want to do some personal projects. Some others, I need to publish because it’s how I make a living, too, but, yeah, every year I do a lot of those and that’s probably what keeps me motivated to go out every day.
iRunFar: And you still enjoy it?
Jornet: Yeah! That’s a question I never understand. Like, we are so lucky to be born in a place where we have the choice to do whatever we want. We have the choice and can choose to run or to ski or to work or do these studies. I choose to run the mountains because it’s what I love; it’s my passion. So, it’s something we take for granted many times. Yeah, I love everyday when I wake up in the morning, look out my window and it’s beautiful. Even when it’s raining, I’m still out in the mountains, and it’s what I choose.
iRunFar: From a young child until now, that hasn’t changed.
Jornet: No. For sure not.
iRunFar: Awesome. Well, keep enjoying it, Kilian.
Jornet: Thanks, man.