Kilian Jornet Post-2012 Transvulcania Interview

Kilian Jornet finished third at the 2012 Transvulcania ultramarathon just a few days after finishing his ski mountaineering season. In the following interview he talks about how he thought he’d have to drop out, his fainting at the end, what his thoughts are on the competition at the upcoming Zegama Marathon, what Skyrunning means to him, and his plans for running and racing in the US this summer, as well as how he’s come to balance his media obligations with his life and his running. He also hints at an upcoming project involving just him and many mountains.

Kilian Jornet Post-2012 Transvulcania Interview Transcript

iRunFar: Bryon Powell here with Kilian Jornet of Salomon Running after the Transvulcania Ultramarathon and before the Zegama Marathon. You’ve had a very long ski-mountaineering season; we’ll start with that. How did your season go this year?

Kilian Jornet: I think it was my regular season. For the results, last season was my best season ever. For me this season was really regular. During the winter, I had less (weak) moments so I feel really good at the end of the season.

iRF: Your (ski-mo) season didn’t end very long ago. How many runs did you have between the end of your ski season and Transvulcania?

Jornet: I had 4 runs in Greece with the Salomon team at the end of March. And then, two days (of running) before Transvulcania. I had the Patrouille des Glaciers ski race that was 10 days before Transvulcania. And then I had the crossing of Aravis, which was a longer crossing with the skis, on the Tuesday before Transvulcania.

iRF: Was that 8-10 hours?

Jornet: It was 10.5 hours. I think there were 16 climbs and 16 descents.

iRF: How many meters up?

Jornet: It was 6500 meters. Good training for long but the temperature was a little bit colder.

iRF: On last Saturday, it was quite warm at Transvulcania. How do you think your race went?

Jornet: I hadn’t been very confident before the race because it’s the end of ski season and I haven’t been running so much. I started and felt really good during the race; I ran with Dakota all the time and felt really good. In parts I felt like I needed more running training, but in the uphills and the downhills it was great. In the last 15 kilometers, I had a problem with the heat and I fell. Then the last 10 kilometers I was thinking I’d never finish the race.

iRF: You thought you wouldn’t finish the race?

Jornet: Yes, when I came to the beach my vision was cloudy and I thought it was impossible to finish. So I’m really happy for the results and I’m really happy for Dakota and his winning. I’m happy to finish the race.

iRF: Yeah, you were really competitive most of the race. You were running with Dakota down the hill and Andy Symonds went flying by. The way Dakota described it, you were in an aid station and Andy went by and you just left and attacked.

Jornet: Yeah, because during the downhill I felt relaxed. Dakota was in front… and when Andy caught us and passed I said, “Ok, I need to go with Andy.” So I go with Andy and after a bit I pass Andy. After that there’s a little bit of a flat section and Andy passed me. After that I started to see that some things were not working well.

iRF: Do you think that you drank enough during the race?

Jornet: Yes, I drink a lot and I pee normally and the medial control took blood and the sodium and potassium were normal so I don’t think it was dehydration as much as it was my body was warmer, warmer, warmer. The transition from the cold to the hot for me was not so long.

iRF: Speaking of medical control, after you made it to the line, it was great that you made it to the line, you fainted, and you passed out. What happened? Did you feel it coming?

Jornet: I don’t know! I have a lot of scenes during the last half that I don’t remember. So when I come to the finish line, then I fall. Then they feed me with oxygen and saline for recovery.

iRF: Are you feeling better?

Jornet: Yes. The day after was good. The legs feel good. So was good recovery for Zegama.

iRF: So you are going to run Zegama?

Jornet: Yeah, of course.

iRF: So how many times have you won Zegama, 4 times?

Jornet: Yes, 4 times at Zegama.

iRF: You won last year?

Jornet: Yes, last year.

iRF: Can you tell me a little about the course?

Jornet: Yes. Zegama is a little bit like Transvulcania. There are thousands of spectators and it’s an amazing thing because you run for them and they push you. It’s an incredible race. It’s not the most difficult race or the most technical like Trofeo Kima or the Dolomites. But it’s a quite technical race. It’s just that there are thousands of people on the mountain.

iRF: So it’s really exciting?

Jornet: Yeah, it’s really exciting and the level this year is really high with Luis Hernando, with Max King, with the Basque runner, so it will be a good race.

iRF: It will be a competitive race. So you’ve run Zegama 4 times but you’ve been running in Skyrunning events forever. We just saw a picture of you running in 2005 or 2006?

Jornet: Yeah.

iRF: What does Skyrunning mean to you? In the United States it hasn’t been as well known. Tell us about Skyrunning.

Jornet: Skyrunning is the philosophy to go fast in the mountains. My philosophy is, if I’m in my home and I see a nice mountain, I want to go to the top. You just go with shoes, shorts, and you go to the top and back down for dinner. So the philosophy is to go running in the mountains and go from the bottom to the top to the bottom. So they are technical races and they are like the mountain.

iRF: It sounds exactly like who you are.

Jornet: Yeah, when I discovered the sport, this was my sport because I’m a mountain lover and I can just go running.

iRF: Well you’re going to come over and love some mountains in the United States this summer. Can you tell us about your plans?

Jornet: Yes, this year in racing, I’ll race Western States another time, then Speedgoat 50k and Pikes Peak Marathon. But between Speedgoat and Pikes Peak, I plan to continue training in the United States in the mountains in Colorado, the Grand Canyon, and the Tetons. I’d like to discover it a little, this part of the USA.

iRF: Do you have any, not races, but any mountains you’re looking to set a record on, just for yourself?

Jornet: I’d like to run the Rim to Rim to Rim. I think I ran that 2 years ago and did it in around 7 hours, so I’d like to run that. And maybe the Grand Teton, it’s a nice mountain so I’d like to climb that.

iRF: You’re really fortunate in that Salomon is great at supporting you. You’ve gotten to do a couple Kilian’s Quests. What dreams do you have left? What mountains do you want to go explore? What is calling to you? Do you have projects outside running?

Jornet: Yeah, first of all, me and a lot of runners, we are more mountaineers than runners so competition is a small part of this life. I like to go to the mountains. Now on the 29th of May, I will present a big project we will be working towards for the next 4-5 years. We are preparing a big project in the mountains all over the world. I think we have a great team. It’s a very small team. It’s just one camera man, Sebastien Montaz, he’s really good. He can perform in any conditions. Then it will be just me without any assistance or logistics. It’s more free. I see that if you go to one mountain and you break an ankle you put 10 persons with a bottle and you put ropes. It’s not real life. It’s just a toy, so we need to go there with health.

iRF: So it’s going to be just you and the mountain and somebody to take a picture.

Jornet: Yes.

iRF: It seems like you’re simplifying things. You’re going to the core of who you are. Last year you dropped out of a race late in the season in part because you were just overwhelmed by the media and interviews and email. Have you made peace with that? Have you found a balance between your own life and the obligations to the sponsors and the media?

Jornet: Yeah, it’s very important to find this balance. We need to know that we’re athletes and we’re in the top of these races so a lot of people follow us and a lot of people take a picture with us. But this is just a moment. We need to understand the real life is who we are with our friends or in the mountains so we need to form this balance. Last year these things had a lot of weight. So this summer we prepared better and for training too, for going to the mountain to prepare for races, and so I’m confident with it.

iRF: So you’ve found more time for you, for training, for yourself, for your spirit. [Jornet: Yes.] Well it’s always great seeing you and I look forward to seeing you in the States after Zegama.

Jornet: Yes! Thanks, Bryon.

There are 43 comments

  1. Visca Catalunya

    Dakota Jones, take notes. This is how to be a good example for the sport. No more immature articles offending people for no reason.Just Mountains and Run.

  2. Alex

    Can we not have this comments thread go down that road? There are a lot of ways to approach running, and many personalities that thrive on it. Which is to say, Dakota doesn't need to "grow up". If anything, his sarcasm suggests a mature perspective that, when stated, simply goes over some heads. He refuses to fall in to the "trail running as a mystical experience and SERIOUS BUSINESS" camp, which is good. That camp has enough occupants already. But please, don't take this as trashing Killian, or anyone else, either. He's clearly an amazing talent, but moreso, a brilliant competitor. To go under the old CR, basically on a months long diet of cross training, is incomprehensible.

    1. Visca Catalunya

      I do not see any negative in what I said, just advise. We are all here for the same reason. Less cloud more sky ; )

          1. Jordi

            common easy guys, i think alex is right and i think we have an ugly enough competition here in spain with the football crap between barça/madrid and all… I actually enjoy reading dakota's posts. Very much. And I'm definitely a kilian's fan. But i also love how they are good mates, all of them, not only dakota an kilian but all the rest too. Looking forward to this weekend's race!

            Thanks for the interview bryon

      1. Matt Smith

        Calling someone immature isn't negative? Hmmmm.

        Not really "just advice" – you're clearly judgmental and with an air of superiority that you know how best to represent the sport. How about you win an international race and then you can give an interview how you see fit?

        Dakota and Killian are different people with different approaches, but they share a love for the mountains and both bring new life to the sport with their competitive spirit and unique personalities.

        It's a big tent folks – just chill. :)

        1. Andy

          Totally agree. The personalities — like the terrain we love so — should and will be varied and interesting. Just like some runs are pure and easy and others thorny and treacherous. The sky and mountains ARE a big tent and there is room for all. The take-home message for me in all of this banter is that I obviously need to run more and read blogs less …

  3. hp

    Great interview Bryon! Kilian is so passionate about the mountains and running, and it's always interesting when someone can get him talking like this. Of course as a shoe geek I would have loved for you to have asked him about the 'modifications' on his shoes.

  4. David T

    I absolutely love hearing from Kilian. So humble, so in love with mountains and running. A great ambassador and appears to be a great person. Very refreshing.

  5. Fernando N. Baeza

    Bryon youve gotten so good at these interviews, its like a friendly actual conversation. HP was right, its nice to see Kilian be and feel so open to talk like that; great interview Bryon. You make it look so easy.

  6. olga

    Amazing talent, only couple of runs, and no acclimation. He killed it on natural ability. Sweet kid. Eyes wide open.

  7. Dean G

    Hmmm. Kilian is working on a multi-year project, involving him and minimal support, with no things like "ten people leaving you bottles of water"… I can't wait to hear what that is! Sounds positively epic. "This is not real life… Real life is your friends…etc." — love this guy.

    And for what it's worth, I think maybe things like dry humor don't always translate, because from where I sit, Kilian and Dakota seem remarkably similar in their philosophies, priorities, and passions. They both value the simplicity in what they do, both feel most at peace in the mountains with their friends, and both acknowledge there are pressures on them that they appreciate but also must learn to balance.

  8. Phil Jeremy

    I think its obvious that Dakota and Killian are both good guys. I too like Dakota's reports because they are honest and entertaining, not everyone can be witty and clearly some people just don't get his sense of humour.I think his posts show great maturity and I hope he never believes the hype.

  9. dogrunner

    Great interview, as always Bryon. People like Kilian (and Dakota and all the other runners) are what make this a good fan-sport, even if many of us are also runners. Why would we pay attention at all to these races if it weren't for the engaging people that do them.

  10. Phill

    Bryon great interview again. Checking this website every couple of days for the brilliant updates. Kilian is a great racer and after this interview Im REALLY looking forward to Zegama such a shame there isn't any live coverage…

    Go Kilian! Go Dakota!

  11. Mark T

    Awesome runner and indeed a great ambassador for Ultrarunning. I just wise he were American so I could cheer for him without feeling guilty:)

    Thanks Bryon.. we can't thank you enough..

  12. dave evans

    great interview. Kilian is just an amazing athlete and person. His passion for what he does just shines through every time. Can't wait for him to unveil this 'summits of my life' project on the 29th may

  13. jorge

    what a great race on sunday. dakota and kilian any more runners. Anyone knows if anton, geoff are running???

    we will be waiting for the preview

    thank you brian.

  14. Anonymous


    "hand me flowers when I finish races ahead of barely-conscious competitors"???.

    You will have a good taste of humility in Zegama!!

    Imagine 100+ spectators not so happy about your presence ?

      1. Russell

        Dear Anon Y. Mous (nice name by the way), one of the great things that sets ultra/trail running apart from most sports, is the lack of angry, mud-slinging 'fans'. Let's keep it that way please.

  15. justin

    Not sure why Kilian grates on some US competitors. Lots of backhanded jokes ("cap ski-mo"), allusions to his videos, the way he dresses, the support he gets from his sponsors, etc. Beyond Dakota (who never passes up an opportunity to crack a joke at Kilian's expense), other top US ultra/mountain runners have gotten in on this. Yet Kilian takes every opportunity to say how much he respects these guys and what an honor it is to run with them. I have never heard Kilian say a negative thing about a fellow competitor. He only says positive things and expresses his love of the mountains and running.

    It’s really become kind of childish and embarrassing.

  16. Scott S

    me too! run more, read less! so, tonight I'll squeeze in an easy flat 20-miler to make tomorrow morning's 5-hour romp on the mountain more fun!

  17. Mark

    I don't see that at all. When you hear US runners talk about Kilian its always with awe and respect. Dakota's Cap Ski-Mo comment is Dakota's style. Have you heard him talk about himself, he has the same irreverent attitude. Also, when he mentioned the other runner passing him at the transvulcania, he said "What's his deal? I guess running fast is his deal," Again, irreverant, ironic, but actually respectful.

    About the Salomon sponsorship I have heard it many times how US runners would benefit from well organized funding as well.

    What can be said is that most of the US trail runners have a different attitude about equipment, trying to stay a bit more low spandex, if you will, but that's just taste. As a European myself I like their style and find the "over-spandexization" and overuse of tools in running kind of silly sometimes, however that's just a meaningless personal style choice.

    However, when you hear the French runners of Salomon or Killian talk, their attitude to running is exactly the same as the US runners. Their equipment might be slightly different but they all have very similar attitudes, about running in the mountains and in nature. Yes, the US runners have more of a hippy, indie feel but that's personal style. When it comes to running in nature all of the top runners on both continents have a good, healthy attitude about it. I don't think there is this animosity you see. Perhaps you feel it, but I really haven't seen it.

    What may be happening is that you misinterpret some of Dakota's sarcasm which as I said he also has for himself. Same with Anton to some degree. Its just a sort of sarcastic humor, but there is also a lot of respect there too.

    1. Justin

      It is possible to be funny without mocking. It takes some maturity though.

      BTW some seem to not understand what sarcasm means. For those, here is the definition: "a sharp and often satirical or ironic utterance designed to cut or give pain."

      To excuse someone by saying "oh that's just the way they are" is cheap. If someone is being dishonest do we excuse them and say "it's OK that's just the way they are"? Then why do we do that when someone is mocking another person?

      1. Mark

        Sorry to say this, its very late here, but you have that same bizarre attitude of trying to tell us what "maturity" and humor means as the other commenter in another thread, just with the name changed. It comes off as so mind numbingly silly. Yeah, please tell me what humor and irony means, you seem to be an expert in it. Every joke is a small revolution, ever heard that statement? Jokes are not as measured as supposedly "classy" and mature as you purport yourself to be. What you want is boring conformity and every little thing is seen as mockery. Its not mockery, its YOUR oversensitive and quite BIZARRE interpretation of it. In the last couple of threads you have said over and over and over again how your preciousness was MOCKED and HURT because of one comment? Are you serious? What world do you live in?

        I really, truly think something is completely "lost in translation" here and you just don't want to understand. You have your mind set that Dakota hurt and mocked Killian and NOTHING could be further from the truth, You have your mind set on it, though and nothing will convince you otherwise.

        I don't know if you got hurt by others, if you just don't really understand English that well or what is going on.

        As someone who has lived and worked in many different countries in Europe and in the states I can tell you that the small "Cap SkiMo" comment was not meant to HURT!!!

        Just because someone isn't groveling constantly that's being hurtful? WHat other comments have been said that are hurtful. Its just bizarre to me how you can so surely talk over and over again about how people MOCK and HURT when no such thing took place. You are crying wolf., its incredible. If that is hurtful to you, you haven't experienced any hurt before and must have lived an extremely sheltered existence.

        My guess is you are projecting your own history and your own private hurt into this.

        1. Mark

          p.s.: I think another part is you might just be just really conservative. You may like conformity and conservativeness. That's probably what's behind the "classy" and "Maturity" themes. Its boring conformity you want and I am pretty sure you are just not a funny person at all. You don't understand the nature of humor at all and satire and irony completely blows your mind. Its typical for people who have too rigid a mindset to get the spirit behind humor.

          1. Justin

            Talk about being over sensitive and "hurt"!!

            Slow down man! Work through your issues somewhere else. I was only expressing mild criticism.

    2. Girona

      It might with respect but it implies he is immature. again , everything in moderation is OK. I am just saying he appears to be immature, it doesn't have to be a bad think.

      1. David T

        Why don't we move on. Tons of great racing is the past week, today and tomorrow. In fact we saw two great ultras happen in the Pacific just finish up, with Julian C., Adam C. (Fuji), and Ryan S. (Aust.), plus others, all putting in huge performances.

        Lots of other fun stuff to be talking about. It's rare to have so many high level races going on around the same time.


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