Kilian Jornet has run the Hardrock 100 four times and has won the race four times. After a five-year absence, Kilian returns to run Hardrock again in 2022. In the following interview, Kilian talks about what brings him back to Hardrock, how his training and racing have gone this spring, and what variables will be most important in whether a fast time gets run at this year’s Hardrock.
To see who else is racing, read our in-depth 2022 Hardrock 100 preview.
Kilian Jornet Pre-2022 Hardrock 100 Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Bryon Powell of iRunFar here with Kilian Jornet before the 2022 Hardrock 100. How are you, Kilian?
Kilian Jornet: Feeling good, yes. Just arrived, so yeah, excited to be here. It’s been, I was talking now with Frosty [Anna Frost] and she said it’s been five years, and it’s, it doesn’t feel like that. It feels like it was yesterday. But yeah, five years.
iRunFar: You’re just coming back home, right? To one of your many.
Jornet: Yeah. Yeah, exactly.
iRunFar: So, what does bring you back? It’s been five years. You ran four years. You won four years. Different reasons made you take a break. Why are you here again?
Jornet: Well, like it’s, I would say the first time you come here it’s because the course, it has this mystique of like the altitude and technicality and like everything. And that’s what brought me here the first year, but then I think it’s more like the people and the sense of community that it has. The race, it’s unique. It’s not about the competition. It’s not about like they did race, but like everything, like the runners, all the volunteers, and the crewing people, and the atmosphere, everything together, like, it’s very special. Like it’s, I think it’s that that makes me want to come back every time. Yeah.
iRunFar: It’s interesting you mentioned that because I think I’ve talked to you a little bit about it, but also, you had a great race at Zegama this year. You set a course record by nine minutes. You’ve run the race, you won it 10 times, I think?
iRunFar: So, how was that race for you?
Jornet: It was cool. Like it was, like it’s another race that I love it deeply because of the communities. The race is organized 100% by volunteers. And it’s the village. The race is the village. It’s not about the race, but to be there and obviously, like it’s a race that for, on the competition side, it has a lot of good athletes. So, to be there and like, yeah, winning 10 times like is not something that I dream about. But when it happened, like you’re happy about it. It means like okay, it’s been like, for 15 years I’ve been able to be in okay shape to be racing and that’s something that, yeah, it makes me a bit proud. So, I was happy to do that. Yeah.
iRunFar: And the time. Like you have run it that many times and you ran nine minutes faster than you’ve ever run. So.
iRunFar: How did that feel in terms of your fitness or the competition? What made that happen?
Jornet: Yeah, like I was in good shape. Like training-wise, I think the shape was at least as good as Sierre-Zinal 2019, something like that. In training, I had done my times and it was there. But then this time, it was a very dry year. Zegama … there is always a lot of mud, and this year it was very dry so that race, perfect conditions to bad conditions; it can change 15 minutes easily. So, it was very fast for everybody because of the conditions.
iRunFar: Okay, that makes sense. So, you come out of Zegama in very good fitness and then you had another great training block running 150 to 210 kilometers a week, doing some racing. Was that as good a training block as you would want coming into Hardrock?
Jornet: Yeah, after Zegama I took a very easy week after that. And then like I plan like … the thing this season, it’s because I wanted to do Zegama that is short, Hardrock that is long, Sierre-Zinal that is short, UTMB that is long. So, I was trying to figure out how to be able to train for all of them at the same time. And then after Zegama, one thing I was doing is like long weeks on mileage, like 200k per week, but trying to do not any long, long runs. Maybe one run a week 40 kilometers but never long runs. And do some very quality sessions or some races.
So keep the mileage for the long-distance races, but keep the sessions short for like Sierre-Zinal and that, and it’s been good. It’s been very good until last week, our daughter, Maj, got some kind of cold from kindergarten and I was a bit sick for four or five days. But it was the tapering week, so I’m not very worried about that. But yeah, now hopefully that’s gone, and training was very good.
iRunFar: So, you must feel like you’re coming into Hardrock as strong as you ever have?
Jornet: Yeah, I think so. But then like, it’s 100 miles. Like it’s not about only the fitness that you have. It’s the altitude that I haven’t done much this year, just like yesterday. And it’s also like many things can happen. Like you can have a small pain wherever and that over 100 miles can just grow. So it’s a lot of things that happen and yeah, it’s a lot of very strong competitors.
iRunFar: So, I wanted to ask you about the acclimatization. You’ve done lots of things at very high elevation. But you did arrive on Tuesday night before a Friday race. Were you going through a protocol at home, or how did you prepare or not?
Jornet: Oh, well, like I did some nights at high altitude. But yeah, just a few like. I wanted to stay home as long as possible to spend time with the girls and that, and it’s just such a fun time now for that. But then, yeah, it’s an altitude that it’s moderate, I would say. And normally I never feel bad up to 4,000 meters, like 14,000 [feet] or that. So, I hope it keeps like that. Like normally has been working until now. So, I was thinking maybe it can work again like that. Yeah. I will see like, I have no clue. We’ll see.
iRunFar: One unconventional thing and you’ve done it many times before is on Monday you went out and ran for 7.5 hours, +3,000m.
Jornet: It was not really running. Like it was very easy, like jogging and scrambling and being in the mountains. Like we got like, I think during all the summer, we got like five days with sun. So, it’s been raining, raining, raining. So then you keep like, you don’t go really to the mountains. Like you run down. And it was like, “Oh, it’s sunny.” And I had been sick all week so I didn’t train much. And it was like, I wanted to do a longer day, like a 35k or something like that. That’s what I did. But then it was like, “Oh, it’s nice. So, let’s go to the mountains.”
iRunFar: Yeah, so it was a little indulgence. It wasn’t a plan. It was just to have fun.
Jornet: Yeah, to have fun like why, why we do that, like it’s because we love to be in the mountains. Yeah.
iRunFar: But do you think you recover?
Jornet: Yeah, that was like this, it was a very, very easy training session. Because it was just like moving, like climbing and just like I met a bunch of friends in the road so, in the seven hours was maybe one hour just like stop chatting with, with different friends.
iRunFar: It’s not quite a hike, but it’s very doable.
Jornet: Yeah, yeah, it was like, yeah, very, very easy training session like compared to …
iRunFar: You weren’t pushing.
Jornet: Not at all, no.
iRunFar: Nice. Well speaking of pushing, this year’s race is as strong a front of the field as there’s ever been. There’s François [D’Haene], Dakota [Jones], Dani Jung. How do you think that dynamic will be? Not in terms of beating each other, but what is possible with that many really strong men running?
Jornet: I don’t know like of course I think it will be fast. Mostly because like yeah, in a race like that you want to hang with other people. And of course, if these people are going faster, you go faster in general. But yeah, then it depends on conditions, how hot it is during the day. If it’s, it looks like there will be some storms also. So, I think that will determine more our time than the fitness. Yeah.
iRunFar: I can’t remember, was the last 100 you ran at UTMB? No, you ran 100 miles this spring.
Jornet: I ran 100 miles in like February.
iRunFar: Yes, but the big one might have been UTMB in 2017?
Jornet: Yeah, because I tend, I get injured so, yeah, so I think it was then.
iRunFar: And this François guy, he beat you there.
Jornet: Yeah, yeah. We had really good competition. And like François is so good at 100 miles, like he’s always nailed down and he prepares very well. And he’s just like, he mastered the distance. So, it’s always a pleasure to race with him.
iRunFar: You’re excited for that?
iRunFar: Well, we’re excited to watch that and as well as with you and Dakota and Dani and everyone.
Jornet: Yeah. Dakota is awesome, like having an amazing season. Daniel Jung, he’s a great athlete, and many others. That’s yeah, the race is very tough here so everything can happen.
iRunFar: Awesome. Well, best of luck and enjoy the course.
Jornet: Yes, thank you.