What’s Your (Trail Running) Quest?

With snow pounding the American Mountain West, we suspect the season for grand running plans has wrapped up for many a trail runner in the Northern Hemisphere. So, too, has Kilian Jornet’s second year of running Kilian’s Quests. In case you’ve missed it, Kilian’s Quests are a well-supported series trail running adventures around the world for elite trail runner (and wonderful person) Kilian Jornet. While there are camera crews there capturing each quest on film, the quests are about a runner attempting to fulfill his dreams. I’ve been there on the trail with Kilian during one of his quests in 2009 and can attest to his genuine joy for the running and the natural settings in which he does it.

So, with the 2010 trail season wrapping up, we’ve got a question for you, the iRunFar reader. If funding wasn’t an issue, what would be your trail running quest in 2011. We’re not talking about “getting in shape” or “gallivant around the world running trails.” We want to know a specific run the thought of which lights your fire. Leave a comment and let us know. We gave our favorite response (Nick’s) a copy of the 2009 Kilian’s Quest DVD. It’s worth watching.

To jump start your day dreaming, a brief reminder of Kilian’s Quests the past two years. Kilian kicked off his first quest in June 2009 by running all 118 miles Corsica’s fabled GR20 route with its 30,000+ feet of elevation gain in just under 33 hours. In September 2009, Kilian headed to the Sierra Nevada of California and Nevada where he established a new record on the Tahoe Rim Trail – 165 miles in 38 and a half hours. You can read my take on running with Kilian during my three stints as a pacer during his Tahoe Rim Trail run. You can watch all 10 episodes of Kilian’s Quest Season 1 to find out more about both of these runs.

Kilian Jornet warpping up the Tahoe Rim Trail.

After winning a ski mountaineering world championship over the winter, Kilian kicked things up a notch by running 435 miles across the Pyrenees in 9 days this June. That’s with 138,000 feet of climb. Sounds like fun, huh?! Perhaps not as much fun as Kilian’s second quest of 2010, running up and down Mount Kilimanjaro in record time. Mission accomplished. He set an ascent record of 5:23 for the 19.5 mile, 13,960′ climb up the Umbwe Route to the highest point in Africa. By running the 13.4 mile descent in 1:41, he set a new 32.9 mile roundtrip record in 8:27. (He spent a bit of time at the top.) The first 8 episodes of Kilian’s Quest 2010 are posted at the time we published this article.

Simon Mtuy (the previous recordholder) and Kilian Jornet running on Mount Kilimanjaro. (c) Salomon

Bryon Powell: is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of iRunFar.com. Having spent nearly 20 years as an ultrarunner and three decades as a trail runner, he's also written Relentless Forward Progress: A Guide to Running Ultramarathons and co-wrote Where the Road Ends: A Guide to Trail Running. He calls Silverton, Colorado and Moab, Utah home.

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  • While this isn't a trail, it's a route that's seemed pretty interesting to me since moving to Alamosa in Colorado's San Luis Valley in July.

    I'd like to start at the top of La Veta Pass (9,314 ft.), basically the eastern entrance into the Valley, and follow Hwy. 160 all the way to Wolf Creek Pass (10,850 ft.), which is basically the western entrance into the Valley. It would be about 123 miles across, but unfortunately it would all be on paved roads. Still, sounds like fun to me. Hoping to make a weekend of it next summer.

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  • unlimited funding + an awesome place far far away full of mountains, glaciers, fiords, meadows, lakes and valleys = NEW ZEALAND !!

    It has 14 national parks, so I will travel north to south running 50 K each day on a different national park. Traveling to the next park afterward enjoying the drive, eating local food and wine and camping/hostels along the way.

    Mt Cook, Milford Sound, Lamb chops, Lord of the rings scenery !! it doesn't get better than this.... at least for me....

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  • Bryon:

    I missed your original article of the Killian run, and I am so glad that I got to read it! You had written a little bit of it in an answer to one of my questions; but the whole article gives the flavor of the experience better.

    My favorite trail race is one that I'll be running November 7th and for as many years as my body will allow me to. It is the Bobcat Trail Marathon in Burr Oak State Park, Athens County, Ohio. Although by distance it is not officially an ultra; by time ran it is. I ran the inaugural race last year; and fell head over heels in love with trail running! It has everything that a runner could want in a trail race. It is run around a sparkling lake in one of the most beautiful areas of the country. It has first class race organization, and a well marked course. It has really great, frindly people running in the race. It has natural walking points so you actually get a chance to lift your eyes from the trail and appreciate the beauty of Burr Oak State Park. The word is out and the race is sold out for this year's race. Last year when I ran it I thought numerous times that there was no place that I'd rather be than on that trail competing in the Bobcat Trail Marathon. I also thanked God many times for letting me be healthy enough to participate in the great sport of trail running. Now if I could just get a little bit of Killian's speed and grace on the trails....

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  • The Compastella Trail from France to Italy. From France and the Pyrenees to Italy. Could it get any better? A very sacred route that is one of the worlds oldest trails. 400 something miles??

    Thats it. Thats the dream...

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  • I'll pay a "running" visit to Yosemite National Park for the first time next year...haven't decided if in the fall or spring yet....but I'm sure it will be fun!

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  • My current personal quest is to take a stab at the fastest thru-hike/run of the Sheltowee Trace Trail in Eastern Kentucky. While the trail has popped up in a couple of articles of late I have yet to find a documented speed attempt. The trail is a 280 mile point to point along the breadth of the Daniel Boone National Forest.

    With a job, wife and three kids I like the idea that adventure and uncertainty can be found within a hour and a half drive of the house and I only have to commit a week of my precious vacation time.

    That and I'd like to see a Kentuckian be the first to establish what will certainly be a starting point for future endeavors along the trail.

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    • Alan:

      I live in SE Ohio and I'd be willing to pace you for part of the way if you'd like some company.

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  • It'd have to be Nepal and the Himalayas. I trekked up to Everest a couple of years ago then did a race back to Jiri, but it'd be great to do something longer. Maybe a run from Lhasa to Kathmandu via Everest if visas could be obtained ok. That would be unbelievably beautiful and tough (no doubt Killian has something similar planned at some point). Plus the Nepalese are so friendly.

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  • I'd love to run the Grand Illinois Trail, about 600 miles in northern Illinois. Created by cyclists, it's a beautiful tour of this area, including both urban and rural vistas.

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  • I would like to run Mount-Blanc in France. Its far but I think it is a very beautiful mountain and I think it would be a great quest. I would like to do it with a group of my older trail runner friends so that we could share a moment that would last forever. Running Mount-Blanc will always be my goal to complete because it is so challenging and I would want to push myself to the limits and rise above my peers who are so childish. I want to succeed and not be held back because of my age. I want to prove to my Physical Therapist and all my friends that your not to young to do something you love as long as you have a good group of friends and encouragement you can accomplish anything no matter how old you are.

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  • I've always wanted to do the Appalachian Trail. That female record is ripe for the picking...

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  • In the Dolomites there is a route called the Alta Via 1 also known as the Dolomite high route. Hands down i think it is the mecca of trail running and the dolomites are beautiful. 150km and usually it should take around 10-15 days. It would be beyond epic.

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  • Unlike the others... I don't have plans. I just keep moving forward. Hmmmmm... now you have me thinking- whats next ???? Thank you.

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  • It is not a major trail, but one on my list is the the West Rim Trail which is part of the Pennsylvania "Grand Canyon". for more info you can go here... [broken link to Trail Musings blog removed]

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  • I would love to go to Russia and run in the mountains and forests along the shores Lake Baikal. They are currently building a trail to circumnavigate the entire lake, and already have 250 miles complete.

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  • IF I had unlimited funds, I would do THE COASTAL CHALLENGE- 250 KM in COSTA RICA !!!

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  • Thanks Tony,

    We'll have to keep in touch, my plan is to make an attempt the first part of summer but would love to pre-run a few sections between now and then to get a feel for the trail. From what I hear the northern section is the trickiest in terms of keeping up with the trail markings. It would be great to have someone to run with, set shuttles etc.

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  • My trailrunning dream would be to spend a summer traveling out West in an airstream camping and running my way across the country. Being sure to hit all the major parks; Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, Moab, Yosemite, working my way thru British Columbia and ending in Alaska by August to run near Mt. Mckinley. Hopefully one day it will be a reality...

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  • I would really like run the Imogene Pass race. With a great history since being created by Rick Trujillo (a mountain running god), awesome scenery, challenging route, and ever changing weather conditions, I think it would be a great event to be a part of.

    For folks in the west this may seem a waste of unlimited resources, but for me on the east coast and with the economy its just too far to do right now. While I know there are many adventures all over the world, I also know that I could spend a lifetime just taking in all the great adventures available here in our own country. So, with that in mind I making sure I take advantage of all I can right in my own backyard.

    Gotta run!

    Brian

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  • I don't think I'm going to be able to run my dream route next year, though I am planning to fastpack it -- it's probably about 120 miles or so exploring the corners of Hart Mountain Refuge in southeastern Oregon -- some dirt road, "road", and a whole lot of shrub-jumping through the sagebrush desert, jumping in creeks, and weaving amongst the aspen. There are a whole lot of places out there that I'd like to explore, but this is one of my favorite places in the world, and the route I keep daydreaming about! Pronghorn, bighorn sheep, sage grouse ... I"m looking forward to it! (One of my favorite memories from up there is running with pronghorn -- they paralleled me by perhaps 150 yards as I ran one of the gravel roads up there, we'd run, they'd get ahead, stop, look at me, and then when I caught up, started off again. We probably did this for a mile or so. It was great!)

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  • I think that I would run all over Europe, all of the places I have read about and dreamt about.. Corsica (thanks Kilian's Quest!), the Dolomites in Italy, all over France and into England and Scotland (my wife has family in England), take a break during the Tour de France to check that out, then into Africa to experience the Ethiopians and Kenyans.. of course not to actually think I can run with them, but just see what it's like and feel the energy there. Then I think I would take it to Argentina for a couple of weeks (thanks to an article in TrailRunner magazine!). I would then head back home to the US and start in Oregon and then into Northern California around Marin and the Bay Area (had a chance to do some of that this past summer while in an Army training school), out to Yosemite (thanks to the article you wrote for Trail Runner!)... Colorado to see if Tony Krupicka or maybe Scott Jurek would let me stand next to them for a second or two! Then meander through Tennessee and run in the Chatanooga region and through North Carolina into Virginia and run with some of the VHTC folks and finally back into my home state of West Virginia to wrap it up with the WV Trilogy race that I just scratched the surface of this past October by doing my very first ultra, the day one 50k of the Trilogy. I am sure more places will crop up in my mind, but this would be a nice start.

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    • Victor I loved your "... to see if Tony Krupicka or maybe Scott Jurek would let me stand next to them for a second or two!" line! Great line!

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