KILIAN JORNET – The Human Carabiner

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Kilian Jornet is defining our sport and in the process is setting new records and providing inspiration to thousands, if not millions of people. Just 12-months ago, I spoke to Kilian in Zermatt. It was just days after his incredible Matterhorn Summit where he set a new record for Cervinia-Matterhorn Summit-Cervinia beating the long standing Bruno Brunod record. Looking relaxed, Kilian joins me at a table and we chat. He looks lean and in the form of his life. The sky is blue and clouds are around the base of the Matterhorn. Looking up we pause and take it in.

Interview in Spanish HERE

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It really is an incredible mountain. I turn to Kilian and ask…

IC – Do you feel nostalgic Kilian, looking up at the Matterhorn and thinking back 12-months?

KJ – Yes, I have great feelings. I-year ago I climbed from Italy (Cervinia) and today I climbed it from Switzerland (Zermatt). I have many great friends in Cervinia and very soon it will be 150-years of the Matterhorn. So many great memories; It’s such a beautiful memory.

IC – Okay, so you have just thrown this on me. You climbed the Matterhorn this morning from Zermatt?

KJ – Yes (laughs) I am not racing Matterhorn Ultraks so it’s okay. I went this morning… I was thinking to myself, it’s great weather so I decided to go. Conditions are not good though. The mountain has much more snow and the ridge was pretty icy. I had no crampons, which was a big mistake. At the summit it was very windy. I thought I might take the quick way down to Zermatt…!

IC – People say the Matterhorn is harder from Switzerland side?

KJ – The Italians say it’s harder from Cervinia and the Swiss say it’s harder from Zermatt. (He laughs) Both routes are very similar. I prefer the Italian side, it’s a narrow ridge about 500m long and you can really run. From Switzerland you go straight to the summit. It’s really beautiful and maybe a little more complicated. For me though, the Italian side is more difficult.

IC – Did you time yourself?

KJ – Hotel to hotel was 7-hours. I had planned to go down to the Italian side and come back via the pass. But the conditions were very windy and I decided to come back on the Switzerland side. It had lots of snow all the way up. I can normally climb up in good conditions in 2.5hrs but today it was 4-hours.

IC – Not the perfect time for a FKT?

KJ – No, it was really dangerous. Normally I would see 100’s of people at the summit. Today it was just me and I saw 4-people on my way down. The weather would be okay for Mont-Blanc but not here; it’s much more complicated.

 

IC – I think it’s topical we are speaking mid season. I believe the Kilian Jornet today is a different person to 1-year ago. For me, you seem to be in perfect shape. I don’t think I have seen you so fit and strong. Would you agree?

KJ – This year I feel really well. I don’t know why? I started the season in Colorado in the winter doing plenty of high altitude meters. I was great in the ski season. It was my best season in regard to my condition. I was not tired after skiing so it was a big bonus. I have raced the same number of races but I seem to be recovering so much better. I am climbing more meters and doing fewer kilometres.

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IC – It’s not unusual for you to start your run season at Transvulcania La Palma on 4-5 days running. This year you did this. You had a great race placing 2nd behind Luis. You then went to Denali and followed this with running again becoming Skyrunning World Champion. In Denali, this is not ultra running. It’s Alpinism. So tell us, what was the experience like?

KJ – It was a hard experience and fun. The weather was bad in Alaska. We stayed 21-days in the glacier and we had 3 sunny days. Everyday was snowing but we did a great number of things. We travelled very light. We would go to 4000m camp and from here everyday we would do something… we did the west ridge and then ski, we did another ridge, then I did the record, the north summit and so on. It was really nice to see. It’s possible to do something everyday. It was really interesting. I think I was surprised to come back to Chamonix and perform so well. Really I was just going to use it as training for Hardrock. In the VK I surpassed my expectation, in the marathon I knew I could do well. I lost weight in Denali.

IC – Yes for sure. You lost weight and your legs seemed smaller. Did it feel unusual to be back in Chamonix feeling like a different person?

KJ – Yes, I had small legs. It is similar to after Alpinism. It’s good for going up but coming down it has its affects.

IC – Denali unlike the Matterhorn was very much about you going and doing it. We haven’t seen the new Summits film yet, so, what did Denali involve?

KJ – It’s Skimo. You go via the plane to Anchorage and then take anther small plane to the glacier. It’s snow all the way. We didn’t take run shoes. We just used skis everyday. We had planned to acclimatize but the weather cleared and I made an attempt on the 6th day. I may have not been adapted but I was still strong. If you stay at altitude you loose strength. I had good conditions for 3-hours but the last uphill section and all the downhill had bad conditions. It was snowing and foggy. I just hoped that I could complete the summit. I added more clothes and pushed on.

IC – How do you prepare for an event like this? Do you do extensive research beforehand on maps? You make it sound casual and matter of fact but I know it’s not.

KJ – You need to be really well prepared. It’s a dangerous mountain. I looked at maps and we planned ahead, not only for the record but other adventures. I made good preparation 2-weeks before. We did 3-days to base camp and did the west ridge and ski down. It was good to see the conditions, find out what the snow was like and see if I could ski fast from the summit. You need to open your mind.

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It was great to have a small team. We were 4-people: Seb Montaz, Jordi Tosas, Vivian Bruchez and me. It’s really quick to change plans and make decisions with a small set up. For example in 5-hours I decided to attempt the record. Everyone was ready; they all knew what they had to do. It was great. Also, the team had projects that each wanted to do. All 4 of us had aspirations to achieve things whilst in Alaska.

IC – That is what is so interesting about what you do. You have very experienced people with you. In particular, Seb, he’s a great mountaineer and cameraman. We often forget he is often doing what you are doing.

KJ – For sure. You either have a small team or a big team with multiple people, helicopters, and many cameramen. The problem is budget! For example, all our team can work independently and they can all film, even myself. I like this process. We all move in the mountain, they are happy alone and that is great. We all captured images of each other. 

IC – That is going to be great to see. You followed Denali with Hardrock 100.

KJ – Three years of waiting!

IC – Yes, you got the confirmation in 2013. We all had expectations and excitement. You were racing really strong competition, Adam Campbell, Joe Grant, Seb Chaigneau, Dakota Jones, Julien Chorier and so on. You had a remarkable day; you smashed the course record. I know from pervious chats that you wasted lots of time. What was the experience like, did it live up to expectations?

KJ – It’s a beautiful race. I have run several 100-mile races and this is the best. The ambiance, the course, the spirit, it was just amazing. I arrived 1-week before and I checked all the last 100km so that I was prepared. I knew I would be in this section at night. I didn’t know the early section; I didn’t check it at all. We all started together; Seb, Adam, Timmy, Dakota and Julien. We had a big group. I felt good from the beginning. Having said that, you always feel good early. It’s just moving. After 4-5 hours I wasn’t pushing but I was pulling away. I thought to myself, maybe I will have a good day but I wanted to be cautious for the latter stages of the race. So, I waited for Julien and then I ran to km 100 with him and then the night started. After this point, I knew the course so I decided to go. It could take 9-hours if I was feeling good. I hadn’t eaten much up to this point so from here I took energy from soup and burritos. It was also really bad weather with rain and storms. I was happy to take a little time in the aid stations.

Kilian ©jordisaragossa

IC – I think you were lucky and got ahead of the worst of the storms. For example Adam Campbell had a crazy time.

KJ – Yes, this is what can happen, Handies Peak is at 4800m and 30km between aid stations, so, you are on your own. If a storm comes they don’t stop the race. You need to know what to do. If you are afraid, you stop and find shelter until the storm passes. Runners need to think and that is a good thing. We all need to think what to carry and what to do.

IC – You had Frosty (Anna Frost) and Ricky Gates as pacers. What point did they pace you?

KJ – Ricky started at 100km for the first part of the night section from Sharman. He ran around 35-40km with me. In the second part it was crazy rain. We were so cold and wet. He stopped. I continued for 10-miles alone and then met Frosty for the last 10-miles.

IC – At any point did you have the course record in mind?

KJ – Yes, you have it in your mind but I don’t race for records. I like racing a great deal. I do lots of races. My priority was to win if possible and I was also thinking of the Dolomites 1-week later…

(Laughter)

KJ – I said okay, I am doing well but don’t try to get tired! I was 20-min ahead of the record and I knew that Kyle Skaggs exploded in the latter stages when he set the record. So, if I kept my pace I knew the record was possible.

IC – As winner, you are the only male with a guaranteed place for next year. Will you be back?

KJ – Yes, for sure as it alternates direction each year.

IC – The two races are different, lets forget next year. Given what you have learnt this year, if you went back in 2-years, with what you now know. Of course weather dependant. Do you think you could make big differences to the time?

KJ – Weather is crucial and of course the feelings. Some days you feel great, like a cloud. You can’t predict these days. I had one of these days at the Matterhorn and certainly Hardrock. For sure I could go faster. I stopped 56-minutes in aid stations.

IC – And you waited for Julien 20-mins? 

KJ – Yes, I think 1-hour quicker is possible should all things align.

IC – You came back from Hardrock and surprisingly raced at Dolomites Skyrace in the VK and SkyRace just days later.

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KJ – I was happy about the VK. I was feeling recovered but after 100-miles you need recovery. The VK was super good. I placed 8th which was great. It surprised me that I could push. It motivated me for the Sky race just 2-days later.

IC – Another great victory for you, amazing really!

KJ – Yes. Thanks

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IC – Trofeo Kima is just around the corner. It’s arguably one of ‘the’ key Skyraces. Do you have any plans or intentions for Kima?

KJ – It’s difficult to discuss plans. So many variables come into play. For example, I may do some mountaineering this week, which may mean I am tired. I have The Rut and Limone Extreme too this year. After a summer of rain when the sun comes out the snow tempts me, so, I can’t resist despite what races are on my calendar.

IC – I have to say, I was watching your posts about your runs this last week. Dakota and yourself doing big days in the mountains that have lasted 7-hours. With UTMB around the corner, didn’t Dakota make that mistake before?

(Laughter)

KJ – I have often done Mont-Blanc just days before UTMB. It has altitude, great training and it doesn’t take too much energy. Dakota is strong and talented. We did this with 10-days before UTMB. He will be fine. I sometimes think he thinks too much. He needs to just run… it will be interesting to see Tony, Iker, Tofol and all the rest. I think Iker will be good. Luis Alberto he will start strong but can he maintain it? Luis has one pace, hard! Maybe he will start slower. UTMB this year will be a great race.

IC – You have Aconcagua (Summits of my Life) left for this year, December yes?

KJ – Yes, I will start in November to do ski training and then I will go back to running for Aconcagua. I’m excited as it has a high summit of 7000m. It’s not technical but it’s a tough record.

IC – And the record?

KJ – I think there are a couple of records but I don’t know the times. (In 2000 Bruno Brunod, Pelissier and Meraldi climbed from Plaza de Mulas in 3-hours 40-minutes. Carlos Sa did 15:42 from National Park Horcones.)

KJ – I will go from the entrance and I will try to achieve both records. Also, Emelie Forsberg will try a female record too.

IC – Wow, nice! I guess Aconcagua will be more like the Matterhorn?

KJ – No, it’s easier. It’s rocky but not steep. The altitude is the big issue. You can get sick and have problems so the challenge is different.

IC – It doesn’t have the danger of the Matterhorn. Ultimately, you have Everest as the last big objective. Have you thought about this yet?

KJ – It’s completely different, it’s very high, 9000m. It’s very long and this is the biggest problem. It’s to go all this way without oxygen and fast. The route is technical. I will start on the north face to prepare. It’s quiet so I will have no problems with people. I will need to prepare. I will go in spring, autumn and maybe the following spring. As per usual with all mountains, any attempt will be weather dependant. I expect to have several attempts.

IC – If you achieve Everest and complete the Summit series, where do you go next? Your list is ticked off, do you think you will comeback to some races you have done before or do you think you will create a new sport, a combination of all your skill levels?

Kilian Jornet-iancorless.com ©sebmontaz all rights reserved

Kilian Jornet-iancorless.com ©sebmontaz all rights reserved

KJ – I have lots of projects. Today I climbed the Matterhorn, I looked around and suddenly projects appear. I think maybe I can go from here to here or in skiing I go down a steep line. It doesn’t need to be the highest or the longest. Nice mountains with not many people. I like this sport because of the beauty. I like aesthetic projects more than numbers. I have so many options to choose from.

IC – Do you think racing will still appeal?

KJ – Yes, I love racing. I love the ambiance. I also like it as training. I push I give it everything and you can’t do this alone, it’s boring. I will race for sure in skiing and maybe run less.

IC – Today I spoke to Marco De Gasperi, I took him back to ‘91’ when he was 16 and the formative days of Skyrunning. His first race!

KJ – Yes, it was Monte Rosa.

IC – Yes, Monte Rosa and he also did the VK. He reminded me of 2007 when you were 20 and you turned up at a race and placed 6th. He said you looked at him as though he was a hero. He now looks at you as the hero.

KJ – No, Marco is the hero.

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IC – 20+ years of Skyrunning. In the last 3-years Skyrunning has become bigger than ever and it continues to grow. Would you like to see the sport progress in anyway?

KJ – Every person is a carabiner. We all pass on and provide energy and it grows. The sport keeps the values of the beginning. However, it’s not just about distance, elevation and athletics. It’s about mountains and alpinism. More people are interested in being in the mountains, it’s not just about technical terrain, and we must look at what is around us too. The sport will grow for sure. We are seeing VK’s grow and longer races. I think in central Europe it will stay as it is but it will develop in other countries, for example the US. It’s important to grow and keep quality; we must keep the spirit.

IC – In ‘89’ when Marino Giacometti ran up Monte Rosa and came back down, it was pure mountain spirit. Up and down as fast as possible. I feel that Skyrunning is starting to go back to where it was 20-years ago. Maybe because we look at sport differently; but also you are providing a great influence. Do you think there is room for another sport outside of VK, Sky and Ultra within Skyrunning, maybe an extreme event?

KJ – Yes. I think an extreme sport would be a great idea. It has been done before as you say. It’s really important though to understand that this is mountaineering fast and not running.

IC – Alpinism without the clutter?

KJ – Yes, it’s not about being strong or fast it’s about how you climb! You need confidence and you need self-awareness. It’s another level. It will come as the sport grows but it is not for all. It’s not about kilometres it’s about mountain experience.

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IC – Kilian, once again thank you so much for your time and the inspiration.

KJ – Thank you for everything.

*****

Article ©iancorless.com – all rights reserved

Please credit as and when appropriate when sharing

Thanks

I would like to thank Kilian Jornet for his time and generosity.

Marino Giacometti and Lauri Van Houten from the ISF (International Skyrunning Federation)

Salomon Running

Seb Montaz

Jordi Saragossa

And all the wonderful races throughout the world that provides us all the opportunity to live our dreams.

Ryan Sandes and Ryno Griesel to attempt ‘DGT’ – Drakensberg Grand Traverse

Fresh from an incredible victory at Transgrancanaria, Ryan Sandes will attempt the 220km Drakensberg Grand Traverse with Ryno Griesel.

The Drakensberg Grand Traverse (DGT) is a 220km route, traversed from the north to the south of the Drakensberg mountain range in South Africa. Unmarked, the route is extremely difficult and technical and spans parts of the Free State and Kwa-Zulu Natal province as well as the mountain kingdom of Lesotho.

Ryan Sandes at Transgrancanaria ©iancorless.com

Ryan Sandes at Transgrancanaria ©iancorless.com

Gavin and Lauri Raubenheimer first made the traverse in 1999 in a time of 105-hours 39-mins. With only 3-official records and 15-failed attempts, the DGT is a serious undertaking. Ryno Griesel and Cobus Van Zyl were the last to set a record in 2010 shattering the 1999 time. Griesel and Van Zyl set a new benchmark, 60-hours 29-min and 30-secs.

ryno-griesel ©kelvintrautman

ryno-griesel ©kelvintrautman

Ryno Griesel will return to the DGT in 2014, this time with Ryan Sandes,  “I am really excited to be running the Drakensberg Grand Traverse with Ryno, it’s going to be one of the biggest adventures of my life,” says Ryan. “The route is extremely challenging and the slow nature of the terrain makes the Traverse that much harder. I always want to see how far I can push my own boundaries and for me this is going to be the ultimate test.”

 

Ryan Sandes ©iancorless.com

Ryan Sandes ©iancorless.com

“It will be an all or nothing attempt” Ryan commented after winning the 125km Transgrancanaria. Scheduled for the last week of March, this record attempt will come just 2-weeks after the Transgrancaria. It’s a testament to Ryan’s level of fitness and dedication to the sport he loves.

“It will either be a great training run or a mistake,” explained Ryan “I feel really good and although Transgrancanaria was a hard effort, I feel confident I will be in good shape for the DGT. You have to remember, the DGT trail is very hard and technical, so it is not all about running, it’s about hiking and covering ground efficiently.”

The run will be completely self-sufficient with no support, pacers or crews. Sandes and Griesel must carry all they need; however, they are allowed to use a GPS to aid navigation.

Griesel commented on redbull.com that over recent years the record has moved from hiking to faster and lighter hiking. Griesel and Sandes are the first to approach the DGT from a purely run perspective; sleep will be a rare commodity and thus it brings many elements of self-awareness. Fatigue, tiredness and navigating while still trying to cover ground quickly and efficiently will mean both are tested to the full!

Griesel and Sandes can be followed on www.redbull.co.za/draktraverse

The website will plot their live GPS location onto an online map.

Links:

  • Ryan Sandes – http://ryansandes.com
  • Ryno Griesel – http://www.rynogriesel.co.za
  • Red Bull – http://www.redbull.com/za/en
  • Salomon – http://www.salomon.com/sg/activity/trail-running.html

Why We Run – Salomon Running TV S3 E01

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“Ideally I would like to be a bird but running is a close second”

The African Attacment and Salomon Running once again take our sport and the visual story to the next leveel

©SalomonTrailRunning

Bernd Heinrich is a retired Professor living in a log cabin in the woods of Western Maine. He has held numerous running records throughout his life and has committed much of his time to the study of the natural world. In Episode 01 we look back at this man’s incredible life, his achievements, the lessons he has learned, and what we can possibly learn from him.

Music:
“Breathe”
By SignPost
Written for The African Attachment & SRTV
http://www.signpostsound.co.za

Additional Race Footage:
Transvulcania & Zegama – Kikazaru Producciones
Marathon du Mont Blanc – Mouss Productions
Olympus Marathon – Stamos Birsim

Ultra Race Of Champions (UROC) – A race in images

Gallery

This gallery contains 92 photos.

All images are available to purchase for personal or commercial use HERE

Philipp Reiter and Juilia Boettger to race The Coastal Challenge, 2014

Philipp Reiter, Julia Boettger, Salomon ©iancorless.com

Philipp Reiter, Julia Boettger, Salomon ©iancorless.com

Nine incredible editions of The Coastal Challenge and in the words of race director, Rodrigo Carazo, ‘believe me, the 10th is going to be extra special’.

The Coastal Challenge has not been without some premier names from the ultra world in past editions, Scott Jurek raced in 2009 and Dave James has been a regular attendee for multiple years.

However, the 2014 edition of the race is going to see the race create a higher profile in the world of multi day racing. The announcement of Salomon sponsored duo, Philipp Reiter and Julia Boettger joining the race apparently is only the first of several big announcements that are due in coming weeks.

Philipp Reiter, Salomon ©iancorless.com

Philipp Reiter, Salomon ©iancorless.com

Rodrigo Carazo confirmed to me that the TCC is a passion for him and for the 10th edition of the race he wanted to ensure something special. When I asked him about the inclusion of Philipp and Julia he said, “It has always been a long term aim to have elite runners at The Coastal Challenge. We have had Scott Jurek in a past edition! It’s great to have Philipp and Julia join us and it will be great to see how they perform. However, TCC is all about enjoyment, participation and inclusion. Every participant will be treated the same. We will be one big happy family.”

The Coastal Challenge, TCC, Costa Rica ©iancorless.com

The Coastal Challenge, TCC, Costa Rica ©iancorless.com

It also appears that Philipp and Julia are only the first two names to be announced, I asked Rodrigo did he have any other surprises for us?

“Well, we have already made public that Brit, Jo Meek (interview HERE) will join us in Costa Rica. Jo was 2nd lady overall at the 2013 Marathon des Sables, so that will add some interest to the race. Also, we have some other ‘names’ from the ultra world to announce in the coming weeks. We are just making final preparations. It is all very exciting.”

The Coastal Challenge, TCC, Costa Rica ©iancorless.com

The Coastal Challenge, TCC, Costa Rica ©iancorless.com

Of course, Philipp and Julia need no introduction to the ultra running community. Philipp Reiter despite his youth has been competing on the ultra and Skyrunning calendar for several years with repeated impressive results. He has won the Zugspitze several times and just this year he won the 100km race. He is also a repeated winner at the multi day Transalpine race. However, Philipp is gaining a higher profile for consistently strong performances in the Skyrunner World Series.

Philipp Reiter, Salomon ©iancorless.com

Philipp Reiter, Salomon ©iancorless.com

I asked Philipp what had enticed him to race in Costa Rica?

“It sounds like a great adventure to me. Running eight days in the jungle, crossing rivers, hopefully seeing some wild and dangerous animals, sleeping in a tent-village and of course tasting some new food and local specialties. Running is such a great sport that we can all experience, I am really excited to share the trails with others who are equally passionate. It’s what I love and want to experience.”

Philipp already has experience of multi day racing. For example, he has raced Transalpine several times and been incredibly successful. When I asked him about the challenge of Costa Rica and the rainforest environment he looked excited.

“Yes, so far I have done some stages races in summer (4-Trails, Transalpine Run) and also a few in winter (Pierra Menta, Tour du Rutor) so I know how it feels to have a race day by day in a row. But as I have never been to Costa Rica and the jungle there, it’s definitely going to be a new challenge for me. It’s a very different climate and the terrain will be a challenge. I am sure at times it will be tough!

Philipp Reiter, Salomon ©iancorless.com

Philipp Reiter, Salomon ©iancorless.com

Of course one issue that may arise for those who live in Europe is the timing of the race, late January and early February, our weather is somewhat different to Costa Rica. I asked Philipp about cross training over the winter, as he is an experienced Ski Mountaineer. “Are you planning on doing any specific training for the TCC?”

“Yes, you are right, it’s the prime time of the SkiMo races and a lot of competitions take place. But for the Costal Challenge it’s not problem for me to skip these races. I usually have a lot of snow at this time of the year near my home and finding good trails can be difficult but I hope I can get some running in until January and maybe the ‘white gold’ will fall late this season? I recently saw some pictures of a guy from Norway cycling indoors with his down jacket on to prepare for the heat of Transvulcania (laughs) I am sure will also find a solution to prepare for the warm weather; running indoors in a Sauna?

On a final note, I asked Philipp what he was most looking forward to… the competition, a new place, travel or all those elements combined?

“It is more the experience in the jungle, a new area to explore, the wildlife and totally different nature.”

The Coastal Challenge, TCC, Costa Rica ©iancorless.com

The Coastal Challenge, TCC, Costa Rica ©iancorless.com

Julia Boettger is without doubt a lover of longer distances and enjoys multi days in the mountains, she has placed 2nd at the extremely tough 160km Diagonale des Fous on Reunion Island and just recently placed 3rd at the 80km Grand Raid des Pyrenees.

“I have never been to Costa Rica before. I am really excited to see the trails and landscape over there. The climate will be very different, the terrain and of course the culture and people. It is just a very nice mix of a lot of new things and impressions. I have never done a multi day race like this before; sleeping in tents next to the beach in a foreign country, spending some days with great people and becoming a “family”. It’s going to be really exciting”

Julia Boettger, Salomon ©iancorless.com

Julia Boettger, Salomon ©iancorless.com

And Julia is correct, it really is a great adventure that manages to combine many different elements. Runners have no need to be self sufficient, food is provided and all your belongings are transported to the next camp/ rendezvous point.

“It’s fantastic! It’s a great way to start a new year and a new season with some lovely running in beautiful locations. I am just fortunate to be able to do what I love. Running and then spending the rest of the day at a beautiful location, get some real food and not have to take care about anything else. Recovery will be so much easier for everyone each day.”

Like Philipp, Julia loves the mountains and technical terrain. The rainforests of Costa Rica do have some elevation but nothing like the Alps or Pyrenees. I asked Julia if she would do any specific training to prepare?

“Preparation will be different because the race is very early in the season. So for me it is hard to train in the mountains at this time of the year because we have a lot of snow. In winter I do a lot of cross country skiing and ski mountaineering. As the several stages of the race are not as long as the courses I normally do it will be easier to train for at this time of the year. I will do more running in the flat and get some speed work in.”

Julia Boettger, Salomon ©iancorless.com

Julia Boettger, Salomon ©iancorless.com

For many, a trip to Costa Rica is a once in a lifetime possibility. The ability to combine this trip with a passion for running is something that all participants will relish. Julia is no different!

“The combination of traveling to a new place, running on different trails and meeting new lovely people who are sharing our passion will make this very special. I think Costa Rica is a very interesting country with a lot of different aspects and surprises. So I am looking forward to this adventure, the warm sunny weather will also be a great break from cold misty weather in Germany.”

The Coastal Challenge, TCC, Costa Rica ©iancorless.com

The Coastal Challenge, TCC, Costa Rica ©iancorless.com

Steve Diederich, the UK agent for The Coastal Challenge is excited about the inclusion of Philipp and Julia (and maybe more?) and although race entry is now closed, Steve has made several places available to coincide with this announcement. In addition, a 5% discount will be offered to the first five applicants. Steve had this to say, “The Coastal Challenge has come of age and has joined the exclusive club of iconic multi-day ultras – with the added twist of a backdrop of some of the most breathtaking rainforest and coast on the planet and accompanied with now legendary catering that outclasses any other event. The TCC in 2014 is a vintage race in the making.”

The Coastal Challenge, TCC, Costa Rica ©iancorless.com

The Coastal Challenge, TCC, Costa Rica ©iancorless.com

Race dates: 2nd to 9th February 2014

If you would like to attend the 2014 event and take advantage of a 5% discount, please email sarah@thecoastalchallenge.co.uk

 The Coastal Challenge website HERE

Cavalls del Vent 2013 – Race Preview

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The 2012 edition of the Ultra Cavalls del Vent turned out to be a classic race. It’s inclusion on the ISF Skyrunner World Series attracted a stellar field and fans around the world of true mountain running had a stunning display from the men’s and ladies races.

Kilian Jornet, Anton Krupicka and Dakota Jones inspired with stunning performances and the ladies race proved to be a thriller, with arguably the three best mountain runners in the world going head-to-head for the Ultra Cavalls del Vent crown. At the line it was local girl, Nuria Picas who took the crown from a charging Anna Frost and Emelie Forsberg.

However, the event was marred with bad weather and unfortunately the loss of life. Teresa Farriol who had placed 14th lady in the 2011 event unfortunately came into difficulty during the night and although she received expert medical help, she passed away.

Our sport should be challenging and we all acknowledge accidents happen. Needless to say the mood after the 2012 race was subdued but safety has always been and always will be paramount at the Ultra Cavalls del Vent.

Article on the 2012 event HERE

Anton Krupicka race report HERE

The Race

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Now in its fifth edition, the UCdV will once again attract top mountain runners to participate in an ultra endurance mountain race crossing the mythical trek in the Cadi Moixero National Park. The route is 100km long and has a total elevation gain of 6668m, the highest point of the course coming at approximately 14km at Niu de L’Aliga (2400m). The course takes in eight huts and starts and ends in the quiet town of Baga. In comparison to previous editions, the route has been extended from 84km to 100km and the cut off time has also been extended to 28 hours.

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Potential Winners

One thing is for sure the 2013 edition of the race has nowhere near the stacked field of 2012. But what may be missing in depth is compensated for with quality, particularly in the men’s field. The ladies have a couple of stand out names and although not confirmed yet, Nuria Picas did say that she would return for her ‘home’ race.

Men

Tofol Castanyer, Cavalls del Vent ©iancorless.com

Tofol Castanyer, Cavalls del Vent ©iancorless.com

Tofol Castanyer has raced at Cavalls del Vent before, he placed 2nd in 2011 in a time of 8:42 (for 84k) and in 2013 he unfortunately had to drop with hypothermia. So far, 2013 has been mixed with some injury issues and stomach problems in one or two races, however, his recent form at Transalpine should ring alarm bells for all his completion. Without doubt a hot favourite for the win.

Luis Alberto Hernando, Haria Extreme ©iancorless.com

Luis Alberto Hernando, Haria Extreme ©iancorless.com

Luis Alberto Hernando is a class act and 2013 has seen him move up the distances in a long-term bid to race at TNFUTMB. He has repeatedly played second fiddle to Kilian Jornet and has been one of only a small handful to really push the Catalan to the line.  He was seconds behind at Zegama-Aizkorri, finished joint first at Trans D’Havet and once again, just finished a minute or so in arrears at Matterhorn Ultraks. Luis can win Cavalls del Vent, no doubt.

Zigor Iturrieta, Trans D'Havet ©iancorless.com

Zigor Iturrieta, Trans D’Havet ©iancorless.com

Zigor Iturrieta like Tofol raced in 2011 and placed 5th overall. He has the potential for a strong performance here; the terrain and distance suit him. However, he has already raced a lot in 2013 and one has to wonder how fresh he will be.

Jordi Bes will be racing on home soil. He recently won the CCC and must come to Cavalls with high hopes of a podium finish. He knows the area well and placed 9th at the 2011 edition. One-to-watch for sure.

Gerard Morales Ramirez placed 10th and the 2011 edition and last year, in a much higher quality field placed 8th. He will come with high hopes of hopefully moving into the top five and if all things go well, maybe even a podium slot.

Felipe Artigue Rodriguez is a runner I know little about, however, he placed 10th overall at the 2012 edition of Cavalls del Vent at the knowledge will be extremely useful for 2013. I don’t see him as a contender for the podium but I am sure he hopes to improve on his overall placing.

Terry Conway (2nd place) Ronda dels Cims ©iancorless.com

Terry Conway (2nd place) Ronda dels Cims ©iancorless.com

Finally, Terry Conway from the UK raced at Cavalls del Vent and was a victim of the bad weather. Since then, Terry has struggled with below par performances at Ronda dels Cims and the Lakeland 100. He didn’t finish either event. He recently secured a top fifty place at TNFUTMB and this will be a great boost for him. Providing he is fresh and recovered from TNFUTMB, he has all the potential of a good run and make the top ten.

Other names to watch out for: Carlos Santasusana Bayona and Pau Bartola Roca.

Cavalls del Vent 2012 ©iancorless.com

Cavalls del Vent 2012 ©iancorless.com

Ladies

Nuria Picas, Cavalls del Vent  ©iancorless.com

Nuria Picas, Cavalls del Vent ©iancorless.com

Nuria Picas is not on the start list so I am going here from conversations with her post TNFUTMB. She confirmed for me that if her recovery was good, she would line up at her ‘home’ race and run. If she does, she is the outright favourite for the race win, even with a tough 100-miles in her legs from her circular tour of Mont Blanc and 2nd place!. Nuria is a class act, her 10:34 from the 2012 edition of the race smashed the previous course record and when you consider her consistency over all distances, not many ladies beat her. This year over the 80km distance and less she has consistently placed second to Emelie Forsberg, however, that will have no impact here!

Placing 6th at Cavalls del Vent in 2012, Laia Andreu Trias is the next lady with top billing. In 2013, she has won several races; La Vall de Nuria, Vertical Sobrepuny, Curse de Muntanya Sotabranques and Curs Mossos d’Esquadra, so, she has form. Should Nuria not run, Laia is a potential winner and for sure, a hot possibility for a podium place.

Teresa Nimes Peres has potential to make the top 10 and if she has a good day, she will be pushing for the top five and maybe even the podium. In 2013 she placed 8th at Trans D’Havet and in 2012 Teresa was 15th at La Grande Course des Templiers, 11th at Cavalls del Vent, 19th at TNFUTMB and 9th at Transvulcania.

Christina (Tina) Bes is a ski mountaineer and has a list of palmares the length of my arm. However, her ability as a runner in the mountains is relatively unknown to me. One thing I have learnt though is that a quality Ski Mountaineer very often makes a great mountain runner! A dark horse?

Finally, Natercia Martins Silvestre placed 3rd at the 80km Grand Raid des Pyrenees in 2012 and was 2nd at Ultra Trail das Aldeias do Xisto. In 2013 she had a win at the Trail de Perialara 80km, so, she has form. It will be interesting to see what she can do in the Cadi Moixero National Park.

I am absolutely sure that the 2013 edition of the Ultra Cavalls del Vent will be an exciting race with many surprises. For sure, the addition of 16km will make a big difference to the final outcome.

If you’d like to follow the race, go HERE

 

 

Kilian Jornet – An Interview

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As another day draws to an end and the sun creeps behind the mountains, I catch up with Kilian Jornet outside his hotel on the outskirts of Canazei in the Dolomites. Looking fresh and relaxed he is on his iPhone, no doubt tweeting and replying to many of the messages he will have received congratulating him on another stunning win in the ISF Skyrunning Dolomites Skyrace. Just forty-eight hours earlier he had also won the Dolomites Vertical Kilometer.

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Kilian needs no introduction. He is without doubt the leading example of everything that is great about our sport, not only on the trails, but also off them. He is the superstar of the sport. Always in the limelight, always in demand, I have been fortunate to see both sides in close quarters for some time now. It’s not just racing! Kilian has so many demands placed upon him, that it is miraculous that he can perform at the consistently high level that he does.

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After our chat he must prepare for a long drive to Switzerland the following day for a four-hour meeting. Returning the same day to Canazei he will then leave for Verona, attend a meeting and then depart for the ISF Skyrunning Trans D’Havet ultra, he will attend three stores to do signings, photos and maybe go for a run. It is a hectic, full on, non-stop life. Despite all this, despite all the pressures placed upon him, I have never witnessed him say no to a photograph or an autograph. His dedication to the sport, his fans and al those around him is remarkable, so, when I ask to take up some of his valuable time for a chat it is always with a sense of guilt… I, just like you, want to hear what he has to say; I want his thoughts and his input. But at the same time, I also want to leave him, let him relax and just find some downtime away from the buzz that his ability as a runner attracts.

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So, when I chat, although I would love that full hour with him so that I can go deep, ask about his life, talk through his progression I don’t. I set myself a fifteen-minute deadline, conscious of the fact that when I ask in the future, I hope, Kilian will always say yes!

Racing at the Dolomites Skyrace just hours before he had a close race; just three seconds…. Not many people can push Kilian to the line like that!

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IC – Another great win Kilian and this time you had a real battle on your hands with your old adversary, Marco De Gasperi. You won by just three seconds, an incredible race!

KJ – Yes, a hard and incredible race. It’s always great to race Marco and today was very hard. During the race it’s hard and then it is beautiful afterwards. This is how we like it.

IC- Many people think that when they see a start list with your name on it, that you are automatically going to win. However, when we see Marco’s name, it’s great because we know he will push you along… Luis Alberto Hernando can do this too. Do you relish the opportunity to race these people so that you are pushed?

KJ – I think people think I am going to win but in my mind it is not like that. When I see Marco or Luis is in a race I think, this is going to be super hard. For sure, it is motivating. I relish competition. For the last three weeks I have done many races, for example the VK I have just done and the Skyrace when competition is tough that is what I like. I knew here at the Skyrace it would be tough against Marco. He likes short distances and I knew that he would go hard from the start. I needed to push myself. It may be easy from the outside to look in and think I am going to win but it is much harder than this.

IC – I agree, we all know your ability. Your skill in the mountains and your skill as a runner are without question. It is unfair to assume that you can race Ice Trail, the VK, The Skyrace and then go to Trans D’Havet and for us all to assume that you will win… when you approach a race like the Dolomites Skyrace and particularly this year with lots of snow, you must think that plays to your advantages, is that correct?

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KJ – I know this race. I know the route quite well. I have raced here twice before. The snow wasn’t great for racing this year. It was soft, so not ideal to race fast. The snow wasn’t an advantage this year, however, it was more of an advantage to know the route. When I started with Marco I pushed on the uphill, at the top I had 20 seconds so I thought, we will do the downhill together. The downhill you need the correct line, so it was important to get the best line and if you are in front or if you have someone in front it is easy to follow, so, it would have been impossible to drop Marco. I was sure we would finish together. For me, I thought Marco would be stronger uphill. I thought he would start fast. But when I was with him uphill, I knew it would be a race to the line.

IC – Now Emelie Forsberg keeps tweeting about sprint sessions and interval work. The last time I spoke to her, she told me that she was going to make you do some speed work! After that VK finish when you sprinted from third place to take the win and then in the Skyrace finish you won by three seconds, does that mean you are not telling us something?

(Laughs)

KJ – I am improving in my sprint for sure. I am not a sprinter, in SkiMo I am a bad sprinter, but yes, I always have a little speed for the last meters. It is something I never train so I need to work on this, it’s good for me to train and work on this. Sometimes when you follow someone it’s better… last week we tried to catch Chamois, it was impossible but good for sprint training.

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IC – Well it has worked! I mentioned the VK. The VK here is a tough course, very steep. I actually went up myself, boy it was tough and steep. Watching you three race up, I am guessing you placed yourself in third so that you could surprise the others. Did you have a race plan to use this tactic?

KJ – It’s a very particular VK, I have raced here three times before and I never felt good. So I was a little afraid, not afraid, I mean not confident. For all three races, (VK, Sky and Ultra) the VK is the race I was less confident about. It is a specialist race and it suited runners like Urban Zemmer. I was thinking before the start that I needed to relax and then when I saw that I was in good shape I tried to follow Urban, he is the best at this discipline. I was following and in the steep parts he was super strong, it was really difficult to be in touch with him. When it was less steep I could run and I felt better. It was okay. I needed to make sure I didn’t loose time or contact. When I saw the finish, I thought it was perfect for the sprint.

IC – It was an impressive sprint. I watched a clip on YouTube, you put your poles together, you went down the outside and then that final 50m is a wall. You have to grit your teeth and get up as quick as possible. Now one thing that many were interested in, is the fact that you used poles. Not something that you use a lot, the VK here is so steep that it would be foolish not to use them. What advantages do they bring?

KJ- I don’t use poles often for running but in SkiMo I use them everyday! I am extremely used to them. For years I used them everyday for 6-7 months. It is a particular exercise that you need to work on. On a VK like this it is like having four legs because you have the arms and upper body and you can really push. So when it is really steep it makes a big difference.

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IC – Canazei is over and in 5-6 days you will race at Trans D’Havet*, it is the third event in the European Skyrunning Championships, you will be up against Luis Alberto Hernando, he will be arriving at that race fresh. You have lots of racing in your body, how do you think this race will be go?

KJ – It will be a great fight, I haven’t seen the list of other racers but I am sure it will be quality. I am in good shape. I am strong. Mont Blanc Marathon a few weeks ago was a fast race, Ice Trail Tarentaise was like a long training session and then the two races here makes it hard but I am good. I hope I can keep this shape for one week and then I will rest. Yes, it will be hard, Luis is strong this season and of course he hasn’t raced recently, he is focused on Trans D’Havet it is going to be hard but the hardest part of the race is the 0100am start… that is horrible.

(Laughter)

*Kilian and Luis Alberto raced head-to-head at Trans D’Havet and both crossed the line together in what will be seen as a defining moment of the sport, read my race report HERE

IC – You flippantly talk about races such as Mont Blanc and Ice Trail. Particularly Ice Trail, you said it was easy but everybody else thought it was super tough… you are here now for the VK and Sky but you have missed your Chamonix-Mont Blanc-Chamonix record… super impressive! A fantastic achievement, many look and find it difficult to comprehend how someone under human power can do something like this. What is it in the Summits project that has illuminated the fire within you to push to new depths?

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KJ – Summits it is about pushing in the mountains. It is about being light. It is more than records, a record is nice but it is about being light and moving fast. How light can I be in the mountains? If you are light you need to be fast to be safe. Mont Blanc took a lot of time. We had too much snow early season, I attempted  ‘CMBC’ after Mont Blanc Marathon but it wasn’t the correct time. The snow wasn’t correct. The week before my attempt I was in the mountains everyday to form an opinion on when was the best time and when the best day would be. It was all about timing. It is not like a race. Here you need to be in the mountains, to understand. Every mountain is different; you need to understand how it works how it breathes. I had perfect conditions for my attempt and the perfect day. I was with Mateo Jacquemoud for all the uphill and most of the downhill so it was just pushing, pushing each other. (Note – Mateo fell on the downhill and insisted that Kilian carry on)

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IC – You mentioned a couple of great points. The one I concentrate on most is the need of understanding the mountain. It is very easy for people to follow Talk Ultra, websites or blogs and look at what you do and think, Chamonix-Mont Blanc-Chamonix, I can do that! But it is a real risk, a real understanding of the mountain is required, you make it look easy, I know that it is not. Do you feel you have a responsibility to those who follow you?

KJ – I saw Alex Honnold do soloing in Yosemite, I saw Ueli Steck doing the north face of the Eiger, and it is not because of this that I would do an attempt. It is inspiring but it is important not to follow. We can all have our goals, our own summits, but of course when we do these things, we have a responsibility. Chamonix is accessible, many people climb every year, and I am not dangerous but every year people die. That is because of rock falls, avalanches etc… you need to know the mountain, you need to know yourself and you need to know your limits. We take risks when we go, of course, but we accept those risks based on our ability.

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IC – It is about your personal summits and about you understanding what risks you can take, about how light, how fast you can go?

KJ – Yes, it is about knowing each persons capacity and knowing the conditions, the mountain conditions change daily. Maybe one day you have the capacity and conditions but the next day it changes. I know people who climb a mountain and then they say it was easy… It is not like that! Today they climbed but another day maybe more wet, cold, snowing and everything changes; it is no longer the same mountain. Nobody is stronger than the mountain. You need to understand that, you need to take time, spend time in the mountains and understand them.

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IC – The Matterhorn will be your next summit?

KJ – After Trans D’Havet I will take a break. I plan to stay more than one month without a race to recover and then prepare for the Matterhorn. It is a technical mountain. Bruno Brunod has a record of 3:14. It is a technical route that is not difficult BUT if I fall, I will die! I need to know the route very well, I need to spend time on the mountain, and I need to learn every step.

IC – And the process? Will it be going on the mountain everyday, working routes and understanding how the mountain adapts to the weather?

KJ – Yes I will be in Cervinia (Italian side of the Matterhorn) with my van and I will stay for at least a month. I know many guides in the area and I also know that it has too much snow at the moment but during this time I will go up and down, up and down etc… I need to know everything. I think Bruno climbed thirty times before the record attempt; so, I need to go up 10-15 times at least.

IC – And your attempt, will that come before or after the ISF Skyrunning Matterhorn Ultraks?

KJ – It depends on the weather? I planned Mont Blanc for May but snow made it impossible… I actually did it in June! I have planned the Matterhorn for late August or early September, however, the mountain will decide.

Image taken by Kilian Jornet, Friday Aug 2nd w/ Emelie Forsberg at the summit of the Matterhorn copyright: Kilian Jornet

Image taken by Kilian Jornet, Friday Aug 2nd w/ Emelie Forsberg at the summit of the Matterhorn copyright: Kilian Jornet

IC – Kilian, thank you so much for your time. I wish you all the very best for the coming months.

KJ – Thank you so much Ian, see you at the Matterhorn!

©copyright .iancorless.com.P1080586You can listen to this interview on Episode 40 of TALK ULTRA – HERE 

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LINKS:

  • Dolomites Vertical Kilometer HERE
  • Dolomites Vertical Kilometer IMAGES HERE
  • Dolomites Skyrace HERE
  • Dolomites Skyrace IMAGES HERE
  • Trans D’Havet HERE
  • Trans D’Havet IMAGES HERE
  • Kilian Jornet HERE
  • Summits of my Life HERE
  • Salomon Running HERE