The Cape Wrath Ultra™ 2016 – Day 4

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Day 4 of the Cape Wrath Ultra was a stunner, no, it was amazing! The early morning cold temperatures and icy wind lifted to show the highlands in their true magnificence and what a course… today was arguably THE day of the Cape Wrath Ultra.

Just 69 runners (from 95) are left in the race, yes, the first 3-days have really started to hit! Although day-4 was a ‘recovery’ day (heard in the camp this morning!) of 22 miles, it was still a day of epic challenges and one seriously beautiful course. In particular, the section of trail from CP1 (on the A896) in the Glen Torridon that weaved it’s way up and up via a stony path between Spidean a Choire Leith and Spidean Coire nan Clach to the amazing cauldron that backed onto Loch Coire Mhic Fhearchair. This is a stunning place! Despite tired legs, fatigue, pain and no matter what ailments, this place put a smile on every single participants face.

It may come as no surprise that Marcus Scotney once again lead the charge. He was instructed by event director, Shane Ohly, that under no circumstances must he start before 0900. For the remaining runners, the start window of 0700-0900 was open and many, despite fatigue, still decided to leave early in the hope that they would be back in camp to gain additional rest at the end of the day.

Finishing in Kinlochewe, Scotney stopped the clock in 4:05:52 and although Thomas Adams had been very close to hime at the midway point, he lost more time at the finish with a 4:22:22. Ian White finished 3rd and Pavel Paloncy finished 4th, their respective times 4:41:23 and 4:42:32 – looks like we may have a fight on our hands for 3rd place with Paloncy just 9-minutes advantage.

For the ladies, Ita Emanuela Marzotto was back on form today, with a definite, ‘I love the mountains!’ as she moved past me on the trail. Her time of 6:14:51 extended her lead over Laura Watson (overall ladies 2nd place) who finished in 6:42:26. However, 2nd lady on the stage and 3rd lady overall, Louise Staples stopped the clock in 6:34:04. We may have a battle on our hands for the ladies podium?

Ultimately, today was all about blue skies, white clouds and the stunning highlands, even Marcus Scotney stopped to grab some photos on his phone! Today was a special day and one that all the runners will not forget.

Roll on day 5 which once again is a (relative) shorter day of 27-miles and 1400m+ to Inverlael.

Follow the race and get more information http://www.capewrathultra.com

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BASE TRAINING for Ultra Running

Base Training

Recently I have been writing a series of posts about training and starting a new year of running on the right foot, no pun intended. A recent post called, ‘Planning a Running and Racing Year’ HERE.

Base training is something that all endurance athletes are familiar with, it’s about laying a strong aerobic foundation for the coming years racing. But if you are an experienced ultra runner I question if you need to base train. For me, flipping things on the head now would be a good idea. Drop the distance and time on feet and go short and fast, get some speed back in those one- paced legs and become a fast ultra runner later in the year. Read a post, ‘To Base Train Or To Not Base Train’ HERE that discusses these points.

But if you are new to running, new to ultra running or are coming from shorter and faster running, say 5k, 10k and half marathon, base training is for you.

Ultimately at this time of the year (and all times) we should ask:

  • What we’re doing and why?
  • What are the real reasons for doing any training?
  • What are the actual objectives we are trying to achieve?

Without understanding your objectives, you will never be able to understand how to structure your training and maybe more importantly, you won’t know when you have achieved your goal so that you can then move to the next phase.

So why is ‘base training’ important?

Read the full article on RUNULTRA HERE

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Running or Walking Efficiency when Climbing

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VK world record holder, Urban Zemmer

Recently I have produced a couple of articles about how to ensure that you are an efficient walker when participating in long or mountainous events. You can read them HERE and HERE.

The first article discusses Training to Walk for Ultra, Trail and Mountain Running and the second article is about Walking, Running and Climbing with Trekking Poles.

JOIN OUR YEARLY MULTI-DAY TRAINING CAMP IN LANZAROTE with MARATHON DES SABLES 2015 CHAMPION, ELISABETH BARNES – HERE

On December 15th, the University of Colorado Boulder released a document called, CU-Boulder researchers discover optimal range of slopes for extreme uphill running.

This article made me take a look and read in-depth for two reasons: first and foremost it ties in nicely with my previous two articles but more importantly and secondly, research into VK data dates back some 16-years and was pioneered by the ISF (International Skyrunning Federation) who created the VK format as a racing discipline.

To clarify a VK is 1000m of vertical ascent and the objective is to climb the elevation gain as quickly as possible. The original context of the VK always was about research and data.

VK courses vary greatly but the ISF consider a true VK to be under 5km in length. To understand the variables, some VK’s, for example the Dolomites are just over 2km in length. By contrast, Limone Extreme is a considerably longer course with a less extreme gradient.

Fully, Switzerland has long been a testing ground for VK performance and a post from the ISF which was updated 22nd October 2012 adds some very clear and specific points to consider:

“Italy’s Urban Zemmer rocketed up the 1,000m vertical course, only 1.9 km long, in just 30’26”, 20 seconds faster than the standing world record set here in 2011.”

In addition, the ladies records tumbled:

“French runner Christel Dewalle was first in 36’48” followed by Axelle Mollaret in 37’44” and third, Maude Mathys from Switzerland in 37’56, all beating the previous world record set two years ago by Italian Valentina Belotti in 38’50.”

Notably, the ISF commented:

“The new men’s record nears a speed of 2,000 vertical metres per hour (precisely 1,971m) an incredible ground-breaking performance that the ISF has been monitoring for many years in a scientific research project… Depending on the course and type of start, poles are permitted and yesterday, most of the runners used them.  However, to date, the advantages of using poles has not been scientifically demonstrated.”

In 2014, the record for the VK was once again broken by Urban Zemmer at Fully, Switzerland with the incredible time of 29’ 42”.

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Remi Bonnet prefers to run a VK and never walks

So by simple logic (I am no scientist), it would suggest that the steepest course is the fastest as Fully is only 1.9km long. To quote, Run the Alps,The Vertical KM race in Fully, Switzerland is considered to be the fastest vertical kilometer course in the world. The race, held on a former funicular route, is home to both the men’s and women’s world records.”

You can watch a YouTube clip of the 2013 Fully race HERE

Watch the video of Fully and you will see varying techniques, some walk, some walk/ jog, some (most) use poles but one thing is consistent, the effort is almost maximal for all. Therefore, in a non-scientific look at Fully, the fastest performances come from the genetically gifted who have all the elements required for an optimum VK performance: lung capacity, V02max, lactate threshold, power to weight ratio, technique and so on.

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Marco de Gasperi like to mix running and walking

But what about the optimal slopes for uphill running as questioned by CU-Boulder. They posed the question:

“Imagine that you are standing in Colorado at a trailhead where the base elevation is 9,000 feet. Your friend challenges you to race to the summit of the mountain, which tops out at 12,280 feet, roughly 1,000 meters of elevation gain. There are several different trails that go to the summit. They are all steep and some are extremely steep. One trail averages a 10 degree incline and the sign says it is 3.6 miles long. A second trail averages 30 degrees, but is only 1.25 miles long. A third trail averages 40 degrees, but only 1 mile long. To get to the summit the fastest, which trail should you choose and should you walk or run?”

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Poles or no poles on a steep gradient?

This is a question that the ISF have asked and researched for many years. A paper titled, “Energy costs of walking and running uphill and downhill at extreme slopes” looks into this:

Davide Susta, Alberto E. Minetti*, Christian Moia and Guido Ferretti

Département de Physiologie, Centre Médical Universitaire, 1211 Genève 4, Switzerland, *Department of Exercise and Sport Science, Manchester Metropolitan University, Alsager ST7 2HL, U.K.

The energy costs of walking and running (Cw and Cr, respectively, in J kg-1 m-1) increase with the slope uphill (up to +20%) and decrease with the slope downhill (down to -10%) (Margaria, 1938; Margaria et al, 1963). Outside this range, no measurements of Cw and Cr are available in the literature, even though walking and running on the mountains at greater slopes is becoming commoner and commoner practice in leisure and sport. We therefore set out to carry out the present study, the aim of which is to determine Cw and Cr on men walking and running at slopes up to +45% and -45% on the treadmill. After local ethical approval, 10 subjects (Skyrunners) were admitted to the study (age 32.6 + 7.5 years, body mass 61.2 + 5.7 kg, maximal O2 consumption 68.9 + 3.8 ml min-1 kg-1). They are all endurance athletes practicing mountain racing. O2 consumption at the steady state was measured by the open circuit method, using Leybold O2 and CO2 analysers and a Singer dry gas meter. Heart rate was measured by cardiotachography. Blood lactate concentration was determined after each run as a check for submaximal aerobic exercise.

Each subject performed up to three walking and three running trials at progressively increasing speeds on the level, and at the slopes of 10, 20, 30, 35, 40 and 45 % uphill and downhill. The duration of each trial was 4 min, and expired gas was collected during the 4th min of exercise. Minimum Cw on the level was: 

1.85 + 0.57 J kg-1 m-1 (n = 10) at the speed of 0.69 m s-1. During uphill walking, Cw increased with the slope, to attainthevalueof18.08+1.57Jkg-1 m-1 (n=9)atthespeedof0.69ms-1 andat the slope of +45%. During downhill walking, minimum Cw was lower at the slope of -10% (0.81 + 0.37 J kg-1 m-1, n = 9) than on the level. At slopes below -10%, it progressively increased. At -45%, it was 3.46 + 0.95 J kg-1 m-1(n = 5). Cr on the level was 3.40 + 0.24 J kg-1 m-1(n = 30). Cr increased with the slope, to attain 18.69 + 1.42 J kg-1 m-1(n = 6) at +45%. 

During downhill running, Cr decreased and attained its lowest value at the slope of -20% (1.73 + 0.36 J kg-1 m-1, n = 24). At lower slopes, it increased. At -45%, at speeds higher than 1.38 m s-1, it was equal to 3.79 + 0.57 (n = 7). The mechanical efficiency for vertical displacement was 0.216 + 0.015 at +45% and 1.078 + 0.275 at -45%. This data on the level and at slopes up to 20% correspond to those found by others on non-athletic subjects (Margaria, 1938). At higher slopes, the increases in Cw and Cr are such as could be predicted assuming that all energy is used to lift the body. By contrast, at -10% and -20%, both Cw and Cr are lower than in non- athletic subjects (Margaria, 1938), suggesting greater recovery of elastic energy at each step in the present athletes. At slopes below -20%, the increases in Cw and Cr are such as could be predicted assuming that all energy expenditure is for negative muscle contractions.

REFERENCES
Margaria, R. (1938). Atti Acad. Naz. Lincei 7, 299-368.

Margaria, R., Cerretelli, P., Aghemo, P. & Sassi, G. (1963). J. Appl. Physiol. 18, 367-370. This work was supported by a grant from the FSA- Federation.for Sport at Altitude

Referring back to the CU-Boulder research:

“Based on our research, we now know that choosing the second trail (30 degrees) and walking as fast as you can within your aerobic capacity is the fastest way to go,” Kram said. “For either running or walking, slopes between 20 and 35 degrees require nearly the same amount of energy to climb the hill at the same vertical velocity.”

This new study (HERE), which was recently published in the Journal of Applied Physiology, is believed to be the first to examine the metabolic costs of human running and walking on such steep inclines (suggested by the CU-Boulder researchers.) However, I would question this and refer to research by the FSA – “Energy cost of walking and running at extreme uphill and downhill slopes.” Received 29 November 2001; accepted in final form 29 April 2002. You can download this detailed documentation HERE and it is essential reading.

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Who is the most efficient?

It would appear that gradients of 20-35 degrees require the same amount of effort and interestingly, CU-Boulder research found in a study:

“A vertical rate of ascent of just over 1 foot per second, is a pace that high-level athletes could sustain during the testing. At that speed, walking used about nine percent less energy than running. So, sub-elite athletes can ascend on very steep uphills faster by walking rather than running.”

In simple terms, this is something I have found out by attempting VK’s in my own time in and around events. More often than not, the effort required to run is so hard that it becomes counter productive. I have even found that including run sections to be counter productive as this raises my heart rate, increases lactate acid and requires me to recover while still climbing. However, if I maintain a constant effort walking, this produces the best results for me.

CU-Boulder research went on to say:

“The study examined 15 competitive mountain runners as they ran and walked on the treadmill at seven different angles ranging from 9 to 39 degrees. The treadmill speed was set so that the vertical rate of ascent was the same.  Thus, the treadmill speeds were slower on the steeper angles. The athletes were unable to balance at angles above 40 degrees, suggesting a natural limit on the feasible slope for a VK competition.”

In regard to the latter point, this in some respects relates to Fully, Switzerland and brings in another element, the use of poles and if poles allow a faster ascent when the gradient steepens. One only has to look at the Dolomites VK and Fully VK where poles are used by nearly all participants. The ISF plan to do a new test with and without ski poles, but it is not easy to do a serious test. Although not scientifically proven, it’s fair to say that using poles with gradients under 20% it will mean more Kcal and a reduced performance. However, with gradients steeper than 25 or 30%, the use of poles can correct style, etcetera and can improve the overall performance.

The CU-Boulder article is available to read in full HERE.

I can quote technical papers and research all day, however, as a runner you want to know the answer to the question, should I walk or should I run uphill and should I use poles?

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Irrespective of if you plan to run a VK or not, the research and thoughts provided by the FSA and CU-Boulder confirm that running or walking uphill provides an incredible workout. Importantly though, research confirms that walking should be a key element in any training plan, (*…walking used about nine percent less energy than running) especially if you are racing or training on hilly or mountainous terrain.

When participating in ultra events, reverting to periods of walking may well produce greater results and faster times. This is very evident when the terrain steepens; running will only expend more energy and produce slower times. The use of poles appears to benefit performance when gradients steepen, this is not scientifically confirmed.

On a final note though, many other factors come into play when looking at results and as with everything, there are exceptions. Urban Zemmer, Remi Bonnet, Laura Orgue, Christel Dewalle and so many more are able to run when others need to walk. We can’t choose our parents or our genetic pool. Ultimately, find out what works for you but practice makes perfect and the more climbing you do, the better and the faster you will become.

Embrace the mountains and going uphill.

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Christel Dewalle, ladies VK world record holder

Haria Extreme 2015 – Press conference and Familiarization Day

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It has been a hot and humid day in Lanzarote. One that has allowed staff from Arista Events to make final preparations for the Haria Extreme, arrange a press conference and in the process organise a relaxed and informal lunch on the beach ahead of this evening’s showing of Marco Olmo’s film, ‘Il Corridore’ – The Runner.

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“Marco Olmo is a living legend of extreme running. In his “previous lives”, as he says, he has been a farmer, a truck driver, a workman. Running has became his reason for living, the way to take revenge on his hard destiny. At the age of 58 he became Ultratrail World Champion, winning the Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc, the hardest and most important endurance race in the world, over twenty hours of uninterrupted running, 167 km (over 100 miles) around the tallest mountain in Europe. An almost unimaginable speciality, where mental and physical training and personal motivations are fundamental. Despite age, physical problems and always younger and more prepared opponents, he doesn’t want to stop. For one year he prepares for the new edition of the Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc. This competition, which for two consecutive times has consecreted him as the champion, could become the last of his career. Marco must win, to show himself that he can still do it.”

Tomorrow, Friday, registration opens and fund raising raw for Nepal will take place at 1000am.

On Saturday, racing starts at 0500 with the two main races, the 80km ultra and the marathon.

Richtersveld Wildrun 2015 Day 3

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Today the Wildrun lived up to expectations and really did become a wild run! The weather cleared, the winds dropped and the rain disappeared and we were all treated to a very special South African day.

Today’s course was special!

Notably, the Tatasberg Mountain is one of the most impressive sections of ‘trail’ I have ever witnessed. I use the term trail very loosely as it was a combination of scrambling and boulder hopping, not only on the way up but down. It was an intimidating section for some. A fear of heights not recommended. However, in pain, fear or discomfort on the climb was rewarded with incredible views. It was stunning!

Racing started at 0800 with separate waves; 0800, 0830, 0900 and 0930; slower runners starting first and faster runners in the last wave as per the previous day. Early running was relatively easy but the views were stunning. Particularly as early morning cloud cleared.

By the time the runners reached the climb of Tatasberg at approximately 16km, Thabang and all the usual suspects had pretty much caught all the early starters with the exception of 3 people.

Thabang made the boulders look easy as he hopped from one to the next. The other runners used a little more caution and a natural gap opened. Katya Soggot and Dayle Wheeler closely followed James Cracknell as he pursued Thabang, occasionally helping each across the larger boulders. Nikki Kimball trailed a little but only by minutes. At the summit the boulders started to clear providing the occasional opportunity to run.

The bottom of the climb opened up to a wide plateau and then a clear zigzag trail lead to the lush Orange River and across the water, Namibia. Lush green vegetation populated the left and right banks. It was a stunning contrast to what had come before. Running along the river banks, the sound of flowing water, birds and the occasional baboon made this day, arguably the best one yet.

Camp was located next to the river and of course, a braai was prepared for the arriving runners. Thabang Madiba arrived first (once again) closely followed by Katya Soggot, Dayle Wheeler, Karoline Hanks, Nikki Kimball and Filippo Faralla. But today really wasn’t about the racing, it was the course that was the hero. It was the Richtersveld National Park that had completely blown the minds of every runner and every runner on the Richtersveld Wildrun race.

James Cracknell had a tough day, his groin strain and twisted ankle from the previous day reducing him to a frustrating walk. He is currently unsure if day 3 is possible for him. He’s a stubborn and committed competitor and after travelling all this way, once has to think that he will fight his way through the last day even if it is slowly!

 

Results 

Thabang Madiba 3:24:03

Dayle Wheeler 3:32:31

Katya Soggot (1st lady) 3:32:31

Nikki Kimball (2nd lady) 3:49:10

Filippo Faralla (3rd man) 4:04:10

Karoline Hanks 4:04:10

 

Nikki Kimball has now moved up into 2nd overall, 10 minutes ahead of Karolin Hanks.

 

Men:

Thabang Madiba 3:24:03

Dayle Wheeler 3:32:31

Filippo Faralla 4:04:10

 

Ladies:

Katya Soggot 3:32:31

Nikki Kimball 3:49:10

Karoline Hanks 4:04:10

 

LAKES SKY ULTRA – new race for 2015

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Skyrunning UK is pleased to announce a new race for 2015, the LAKES SKY ULTRA™. A 50km+/- course with 4300m+/- ascent that includes soaring ridgelines, rock scrambling and a course that will test the most experienced competitor. Starting and concluding in the iconic Lakeland village, Ambleside: the LAKES SKY ULTRA will look to bring a European feel and ambiance to Skyrunning in the UK.

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Created by Charlie Sproson (Mountain Run) and Andrew Burton, the LAKES SKY ULTRA™ will follow on from the recently announced Glen Coe Skyline in providing competitors from the UK and overseas with an opportunity to test themselves on a course that harks back to the late 80’s and early 90’s when ISF President, Marino Giacometti went fast and light to the summit of Monte Rosa.

We may lack altitude in the UK but we have a strong history and heritage founded in the traditions of fell and mountain running. The LAKES SKY ULTRA™ will combine a series of graded scrambles: 0.5 at Swirral Edge, grade 1 at Striding Edge and grade 3 at Pinnacle Ridge to offer a unique racing experience but it is not for the feint hearted…

Sky-Race-Map-from-Ambleside-_LSU-version

“We have so much great scenery and courses in the UK; we certainly have exposure and technical terrain. We have a sense of high mountains even though we lack altitude. Throw in British weather and our course will be a challenge. No question. We are offering an opportunity to explore from a different perspective.”

Andrew and Charlie have had some great days out planning routes and have therefore created a course with added spice. It will be a test and the route will inspire those who like a challenge. They have pulled together something quite special. Soaring ridgelines in the sky… Skyrunning!”

“We have some very technical parts on this course but we also have plenty of simple running. The route has three graded scrambles so foot and hand placements are going to be important. We have elements of not just running but hands-on rock fun to be had!”

In year one the LAKES SKY ULTRA™ will only have 100-places available and this race will require a certain type of runner. Participants will need to provide a list of past experience when applying. Just being an ultra runner won’t cut it. Charlie and Andrew quite clearly state, “We need scrambling and rock climbing experience. However, we are planning a mountain skills course in August to help those interested to gain experience… but this will not guarantee race entry!”

Striding_Edge_LSU

Safety is key in any race, however, Skyrunning races of this style are designed to challenge… so, although Charlie and Andrew are looking at safety, a course of this nature does bring risk and ultimately, that is part of the attraction; hence the vetting procedure. “If a runner is asking, ‘I wonder if I have the correct experience?’ they probably don’t!” says Andrew.

Charlie Sproson on a recce day. Image ©steveashworth MovieiT

Charlie Sproson on a recce day. Image ©steveashworth MovieiT

The LAKES SKY ULTRA ™ course is designed to have an element of danger, however, no compromises are being made in regard to the safety of everyone.

“We will have manned checkpoints at high level sections of the course, electronic checkpoints and a cut-off at Patterdale.” Charlie explains. “We will also have evacuation routes should they be required due to danger or injury. An appointed safety officer, Joe Faulkner from Nav4 will look at the course and will provide safety without taking away the excitement… for example, on the grade 3 scramble we may have a fixed rope? Many of these elements are yet to be decided but we are looking at all aspects.”

 

Make a date in your diary, 12th September 2015.

The LAKES SKY ULTRA™ is coming.

http://www.lakesskyultra.uk/

Email Charlie Sproson: charlie@lakesskyultra.uk

“The Helvellyn range is one of the most iconic massifs in the Lake District. The combination of this spectacular mountain and a series of scrambles make the LAKES SKY ULTRA™ route a real highlight within the UK. We have fantastic edge running from Riggindale Straights to Kirkstone pass with some amazing scenery. You can look over Ambleside from Red Screes… this course has it all. Mountain scenery, splashed with lakes and technical terrain make this a True Mountain™ experience.”

The race will start and finish in Ambleside and Skyrunning UK sincerely hope over time that the race will mimic some of the experiences that have been encountered in some of the top European races. Think Zegama-Aizkorri or the Dolomites Sky Race. A town center race start and finish includes everyone: families, shops, restaurants, tourists, supporters and of course the race can interact with everyday life. It’s going to be incredible to bring this experience to an iconic Lakeland town. We want people with cowbells, whistles and cheering. A carnival of Skyrunning!

Images all ©MovieiT

Kilian Jornet – Aconcagua – Summits of my Life

Image copyright ©kilianj ©summitsofmylife

Image copyright ©kilianj ©summitsofmylife

“Winning isn’t about finishing in first place. It isn’t about beating the others. It’s about overcoming yourself. Overcoming your body, your limitations and your fears…. To find out whether we can overcome our fears, that the tape we smash when we cross the line isn’t only the one the volunteers are holding but also the one we have set in our minds? Isn’t victory being able to push our bodies and minds to their limits and in doing so discovering that they have led us to find ourselves anew and to create new dreams?” – Kilian Jornet, RUN or DIE

 

December always provides me with a little more spare time (not much) but certainly more time than the past 10-months when I have been on the road, travelling from race-to-race, recording images, writing stories and podcasting on the weekly and monthly action of mountain and ultra running.

I like to look back, soak in my experiences and one-by-one highlight key moments.

Although I plan to do this in the coming weeks, Kilian Jornet’s imminent ‘Summit’ attempt on Aconcagua has made jump ship and write a post about the Catalan himself.

What a year Kilian has had…

In a face-to-face interview in Zermatt earlier this year, I remember asking, “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?”

As one would expect, Kilian looked away from me a little embarrassed by such a direct question that basically said, ‘you are the best!’

However, he replied with a smile and a twinkle in his eye that confirmed my thoughts, “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 kilometers.”

I smile at his honesty and his genuine analysis of his form. You see 2014 has been the most impressive year not only in Kilian’s short life but arguably the most impressive in relation to any sportsperson.

We can argue all day about the pros and cons of distance, speed, difficulty and complexity of Kilian’s year but look at the simple facts:

  • Denali – Summit record (11-hours 40-minutes)
  • Hardrock 100 course record
  • Skyrunner World Series Champion – Vertical Kilometer
  • Skyrunner World Series Champion – Sky distance
  • Skyrunner World Series Champion – Ultra distance

Is Kilian THE most rounded athlete? I am biased but I like to think impartial and I have to say, with all things considered, yes! VK to 100-miles, Ski mountaineering and climbing. The Catalan is off the scale.

We have heard the stories of how Kilian says in RUN or DIE, “I enjoyed a normal childhood… I have never been one for being shut inside and was lucky that my parents lived in a refuge, which my father managed, 6500-feet above sea level.”

Kilian may well consider his childhood as normal, for him it was, but many would agree that right from aged two he was being nurtured step-by-step to be the perfect outdoor person.

“By the age of 3 I had already climbed Tossa Plana, Perafita and La Muga. By the age of 6 I had completed four Aneto summits and at the age of 10 I crossed the Pyrenees in 42-days.”

It’s an inspiring and intimidating thought process. At 10 years old I was a naive and inexperienced kid, in contrast Kilian was already on a path of greatness. It may not be a path that was pre determined, however, as we look back we can see that Kilian has not stumbled on this ability, this career, this destiny. With the passing of each year, he has created a legacy and should Kilian stop now at the age of 27, his list of records, results and palmares would quite happily last him to the end of his days.

“I have lost count of the weeks I have spent away from home, of the countries I have visited and the beds I have slept in. I began to compete 10-years ago and it has been 10-years of seeking to relive again-and-again the emotions and sensations that take me to the peak of ecstasy and make me live life at a pace more suited to a rock-and-roll musician.”

December is here and as runners all over the world slip into recovery and hibernation in preparation for the new-year, Kilian departs for the Andes and his attempt to set a record on Aconcagua.

In 2000 Brunod, Pelissier and Meraldi climbed from Plaza de Mulas in 3-hours 40-minutes to the summit and Carlos Sa did 15:42 from National Park Horcones. Two records, I wondered which Kilian would go for?

“I will go from the entrance and I will try to achieve both records. Also, Emelie Forsberg will try a female record too,” Replied Kilian to my question. “Aconcagua is easier than the Matterhorn. It’s rocky but not steep. Altitude is the big issue. You can get sick and have problems so the challenge is different. Aconcagua is the highest mountain in the western and southern hemisphere at just under 7000m.”

The first attempt to reach the summit of Aconcagua by a European was made in 1883 by a party led by the German geologist and explorer Paul Güssfeldt. Bribing porters with the story of treasure on the mountain, he approached the mountain via the Rio Volcan, making two attempts on the peak by the north-west ridge and reaching an altitude of 6,500 metres (21,300 ft). The route that he prospected is now the normal route up the mountain.

The first recorded ascent was in 1897 by a British expedition led by Edward FitzGerald. The summit was reached by the Swiss guide Matthias Zurbriggen on January 14 and by two other expedition members a few days later.

The youngest person to reach the summit of Aconcagua was Tyler Armstrong of California. He was nine years old when he reached the summit on December 24, 2013. The oldest person to climb it was Scott Lewis, who reached the summit on November 26, 2007 when he was 87 years old.

See Kilian Jornet on the UK’s Channel 4 News

http://bcove.me/knvesy10

http://link.brightcove.com/services/player/bcpid601325122001?bckey=AQ~~,AAAAAEabvr4~,Wtd2HT-p_Vh4qBcIZDrvZlvNCU8nxccG&bclid=0&bctid=3915483972001

Pushing boundaries is what Kilian does. It is his DNA and as an appreciation and acknowledgement for his contribution to our sport, Kilian was voted: ‘Peoples’ Choice Adventurer of the Year’ by National Geographic.

As the coming days unfold, Kilian will test himself once again. He will push his own boundaries and he will ask questions of himself and those around him. To document the journey, Seb Montaz will once again record the action as it unfolds. We get to see the Catalan’s endeavors and achievements through the brilliance of Seb’s eyes. Believe me, as a photographer I not only appreciate the craft of a man at the pinnacle of sports imagery but also as climber and sportsman himself. Remember, Seb is on the mountain, often side-by-side with Kilian, matching his strides, following his movements and in doing so he captures moments that we can look on and savor. We are able to experience the brilliance of two pioneers.

We will see less of Kilian in 2015. A return trip to Hardrock 100 is almost certainly on the cards. After all, why wouldn’t he want both course records? But ultimately, Kilian will focus on Everest and the ultimate challenge that this mountain will provide.

“It’s completely different, it’s very high, 9000m. It’s very long and this is the biggest problem, 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 dependent. I expect to have several attempts.”

I am unsure what Kilian will do in the future… I think maybe even Kilian is unsure?

Aconcagua is a priority for now and then focus will shift to Everest; the big peak in the Himalayas.

Everest will dominate the mind of the Catalan. It will consume him and with meticulous preparation and he will conjure a plan… a plan that will take him to the top of the world!

Credits 'RUN or Die by Kilian Jornet, Wikipedia and Seb Montaz

 *****

Follow Kilian and his team in the Andes @kilianj @sebastienmontaz @summitsofmylife

Summits of my Life HERE

Kilian Jornet HERE

My interviews with Kilian:

The Human Carabiner – HERE

The Matterhorn Summit – HERE

You can also listen to Kilian Jornet on Talk Ultra podcast HERE

UPDATES

all content ©summitsofmylife

Dec 19th – 1:56pm

Today is the day!!! Kilian is right now trying to be the fastest person to climb up and down the Aconcagua!!! C’mon Kilian, you can make it!!! Gooo!!!‪#‎SoML‬

Dec 19th – 2:27pm

NEWS FROM ACONCAGUA: Kilian was not able to reach the summit on his attempt due to strong wind. He could reach up to 6.500m but 90km/h winds made the attempt completely impossible and he had to turn back. In Kilian’s words “I will try again soon” ‪#‎SoMLAConcagua‬

December 20th

“I consider this failed attempt like a big training in altitude” said to me kilian after running and climbing from Horcones ( 2950m) to 6200 m and back ( about 14h) with crazy 90km/h wind in his face.
Emelie and Kilian will be stronger for the next attempt!

December 21st

When things do not go as expected, you go fast back at the start point and you try it again (soon ‪#‎SoMLAconcagua‬

December 23rd

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Aconcagua 2nd Round!
Kilian is on his way trying to achieve another dream!!
You can see the long road to the Summit! Go Kilian!!!
We’ll Keep you posted! ‪#‎SoMLAconcagua‬

December 23rd 

Kilian passed Plaza de Mulas, Aconcagua’s Base Camp at 4.300m. He is feeling well because weather is good and not too windy. Let’s push him up to the summit!!! GOOOOO KILIAN!!!

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December 23rd 

BREAKING NEWS: Kilian reached the summit of Aconcagua and is back to Plaza de Mulas Base Camp. He feels well but still 25 more Km to go. Enjoy it and goooo!!! ‪#‎SoMLAconcagua‬

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Trofeo Kima 2014 in-depth race preview

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Don your gloves, find your helmet and prepare for the jewel in the Skyrunning crown. Trofeo Kima is here! This is THE all-out, kick ass event that Skyrunning put on and as such it is often the most anticipated. You can’t just do Kima. As Kilian Jornet said in a recent interview, 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’s not about kilometres it’s about mountain experience.’

Famous throughout the mountain running world, Kima is run over seven mountain passes with 8400m of ascent/decent over the 52km course. It is an all out white-knuckle ride and not for the feint hearted. Biennial, the race has a capped field of just 250 and embraces the true spirit of Skyrunning created way back in ‘89’ when Giacometti (ISF President) first ascended and descended Monte Rosa. The fourth race in the 2014 Ultra Skyrunner® World Series, KIMA will provide, once again, a showcase for earth meeting sky – Skyrunning!

MEN

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It may come as no surprise that man on fire and 2012 winner, Kilian Jornet is the one to beat on this course. In reality, Kima is one of the most perfect courses for the Catalan. His advantage over the rest of the competition is marked and other than a disaster on race day, I think we will see Kilian top the podium and should conditions be favourable, a course record may well be on the cards! To put the severity of this course into perspective, it took Kilian 6:28:52 in 2012 to cover the 52km course. (The record stands at 6:19:03 also set by Kilian.)

Tom Owens  'running' at Trofeo Kima copyright Ian Corless

Tom Owens ‘running’ at Trofeo Kima copyright Ian Corless

Brit, Tom Owens had an incredible 2012 and pushed Kilian at many races. With over a year out of the sport, Tom is back in 2014 and although he has had a few blips, he is showing some of the fire and all out natural ability that saw him place 2nd at Kima at the last edition in a time of 6:39:28. Feeling tired at Sierre-Zinal Tom missed Matterhorn Ultraks and I can’t help but think that will pay dividends here. The last time he toed the line at Kima, he had this to say, ‘It’s the definition of Skyrunning.  Racing here is like being a kid, jumping nimbly from rock to rock and feeling full of energy.’

Paolo Gotti placed 8th in 2012 and was the winner in 2008 and 4th in 2010. It’s difficult to predict how Gotti will perform but he knows this course like the back of his hand and that is a huge advantage.

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Both Philipp Reiter and Michel Lanne placed 5th and 6th at the last edition of Kima. Philipp has been a little quiet recently with injury and although he is back running, he told me he is not in the best shape for Kima, so, he will have to miss it. Needless to say he is very disappointed. By contrast, Michel was runner up to Kilian at the Skyrunning World Championships and last weekend raced Matterhorn Ultraks and was having a great race until going off course. He dropped, saved his legs and we may well see him looking for pay back in Kima.

Nicola Golinelli effectively retired drop top level racing last year. However, he is still a highly competitive athlete and on this course, if in great shape, we can expect a top-5 performance. When you are racing fun with the pressure off a whole new experience can be enjoyed. One to watch!

Fulvio Dapit knows how to run in the mountains and has speed, experience and technical ability in abundance. Without doubt a contender for the podium should all things align. His recent victory at Dolomiti Extreme Trail can only be a good sign of things to come.

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Manuel Merillos is the new kid on the block and a hot talent. His recent 4th place at Dolomites Skyrace shows that he can trade blows with the best on a pure Skyrunning course. A definite contender for the podium!

Es Tressider is an interesting inclusion in to the line-up for this race and a runner that many of the other competitors will not be familiar with. In 2007 he set a record for the Cullin Ridge on the Isle of Skye in 3:17:28. The ridge is Britain’s premier mountain traverse and is usually attempted by 2-people in one or two days. Crossing multiple peaks over 3000ft it’s the perfect training ground for Kima.

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Jordi Bes Ginesta on his day can trade blows with the best in the world. Hailing from a ski mountaineering background he as all the skill levels required for this tough and challenging course, Top-10 potential?

Greg Vollet team manager for Salomon can never be ruled out of the mix in a race like this. He won’t win it but top-10 is always a distinct possibility. The true global appeal of Skyrunning and Kima is reflected by the inclusion of Matt Cooper and Clarke McClymont. Matt had a great run at Ronda dels Cims in 2013 and Clarke has been dreaming of Kima every since he watched the race 2-years ago.

Ones to watch: 

  • Pau Bortolo
  • Stuart Air
  • J Francisco Pinera
  • Carles Rossell
  • Yan Longfei
  • Jan Bartas
  • Phudorjee Lama Sherpa
  • Tim Stephens

Ricky Lighfoot is listed on the start sheet but may not be racing (tbc)

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LADIES

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Emelie Forsberg placed 2nd in 2012 and at the time it was her longest ever run. Leading the race to halfway, Emelie finally relinquished to Nuria Picas who went on to set a course record 7:36:21. Two years on and Emelie is a very different runner. Like Kilian, Kima will suit Emelie’s skill set and she is the outright favourite.

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Kasie Enman is currently on a European tour of Skyrunning races and Kima brings a conclusion to the trip. The technical aspects of the course, will not allow Kasie to use her outright speed. However, she is always in the mix and a podium place is a distinct possibility.

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Nuria Dominguez is a regular and consistent performer in the Skyrunner® World Series. In 2013 she had a string of top results: 3rd Dolomites Skyrace, 4th Trans D’Havet, 3rd at Matterhorn Ultraks and was ranked 4th in The Skyrunning World Championships. Nuria may well lack the speed of Emelie and Kasie but can more than compensate with experience of the montains.

Alessandra Carlini has had a sold 2014 and her recent 2nd at Ice Trail Tarentaise elevates the Italian to ‘one-to-watch’ at Kima. Living on the Italian coast she has very little opportunity to terrain on a mountainous course, however, this hasn’t proven to be too much of a disadvantage so far.

Emanuela Brizio past winner and course record holder and placed 3rd behind Picas and Forsberg in 2012. I doubt that Emanuela can win the race this year but 2nd place is up for grapes and if she has a great day, who knows. Forsberg only beat Brizio by 15-seconds last time!

Skyrunning legend Corinne Favre will also toe the line. Apparently she won’t be ‘racing’ but we must definitely tip a hat to the first lady of Skyrunning. She was the first world champion in 1998 and although the sport is very different today, Corinne can still hold her own. Don’t rule her out!

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Ladies to watch:

  • Judit Lamas Borras
  • Anna Eriksmo
  • Rosa Vallas Tio
  • Zuzana Urbancova

Needless to say, Kima will have a plethora of Italian talent toeing the line who will without doubt have an impact on the top-10 results for the men and in particular the ladies.

Past racers who have excelled:

Franco Sancassani 3rd in 2012

Rodrigues Bodas 7th in 2012

 Links:

Skyrunning HERE

?…. won’t stop me running an ultra!

©copyright .iancorless.com.P1140619

 

So I asked the question, “?… wouldn’t stop me running an ultra!”

Cassandra Cisneros Chemo
…

Andre Blumberg Noise about UTWT and TMs
…

Carla Murphy Arthritis and tin-man (girl) knees, ouch…

Mick Wren Hallucinating my very own alternative reality…

Matt Burton Averaging 12 miles a week in training…

Holly Rush Work…

Rob Pinnington The shits
…

James Harris My little legs…

Richard Ashton Being savaged by a massive dog…

Richard Hill the word “massive” is so subjective…

Emily Willemin My asthma! It knows not to mess with me on race day or I’ll just go further next time…

Richard Hill The wife…

Cameron Adamson Not paying 80$ for the grand slam…

Matt Dooley Failure…

Peter G Smith Age…

Dan Park Apocalypse…

John Hitchen *I*…

Kristen Moegling My head…

Sean Sweetman Glandular fever…

Colin Stables Peoples perception of me…

Sarah Haworth A broken toe…

Hermie Roque Saludes Colds and a slight fever…

Dennis Both Mørk Nielsen a sprained big toe…

Russell Thomas Going base over apex 10hrs into TDS, and having to hobble the next 40 miles…

David E. Jackson Injury…

Chris Valenti Self doubts. No, actually, it probably would…

Craig Eccleston The pain I endured running a marathon…

Chris Tack Spending the winter training season in Afghanistan…

James Stewart Not having an available episode of Talk Ultra to listen to…

Ed Kumar Parkinsonism
…

Carolyn Mankiewicz-Shreck Fear…

Graham Millington Achilles Tendonitis even though it really should if I were sensible. . But then I wouldn’t be running an Ultra…

Jane Benson Arthritis in the lumbar spine. My very overweight consultant said I should quit. I went onto win 2 events and have learnt to train effectively without the junk miles and get off road more…

Lior Sion Wild boars at night. As of this morning…

Simon Pavel T Miranda an upset stomach…

Michael Feehan An ileostomy due to crohn’s disease…

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Thanks for the great input and thoughts… add your thoughts below.

Kilian Jornet – The Matterhorn Summit Interview

Kilian Jornet ©iancorless.com

Kilian Jornet ©iancorless.com

Kilian Jornet – The Matterhorn Interview

August 25th, Zermatt, Switzerland.

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Translations

Czech HERE, Italian HERE, Spanish HERE, French HERE

It’s the day after the Matterhorn Ultraks and just four days after Kilian Jornet’s successful attempt on the Matterhorn Summit record attempt from Cervinia. It has been quite a few days for this iconic mountain and although Kilian has excelled on both occasions, we all know, the mountain is still the boss.

Kilian arrives with Emelie Forsberg looking relaxed and fresh after a late breakfast. I congratulate him (and Emelie) once again on topping the podium at the Skyrunning Matterhorn Ultraks race and ask him how he feels, ‘I am a little tired but feel good. I was certainly tired in the race but I didn’t push too hard. I just did what I needed to do to win the race’.

Our conversation turns the TNF UTMB and we discuss how the race will unfold for the men and women. Kilian and Emelie are animated at the prospect of Julien Chorier, Miguel Heras, Anton Krupicka and the other contenders going head-to-head. Emelie gets excited at the thought of Nuria Picas in the ladies race, it’s her first 100-mile race and of course Emelie knows the Catalan well. We could talk all day but eventually I settle down with Kilian in a quiet corner and we discuss the Matterhorn.

IC: It’s the day after the Matterhorn Ultraks, firstly Kilian, congratulations on your win! Another great race with Luis Alberto Hernando but maybe what is more impressive is that it comes just a couple of days after your Matterhorn Summits. How are you feeling?

KJ: I feel good. It was a super good race with a great atmosphere. To run with Luis Alberto Hernando was super nice. I was very tired before the race, particularly the day before. I used a strategy for the race to take it easy and take the win in the last kilometers. Yes, I think I was much more tired than in other races this year.

IC: We spoke in the Dolomites and we discussed then that your next Summit would be the Matterhorn. You travelled to Cervinia and you lived here for weeks to train. You had the utmost respect for Bruno’s record of 3:14:44. The Matterhorn is a dangerous mountain. You said you needed to learn the mountain, to understand every step. I think in that time you went up and down the mountain multiple times. Just before your attempt you said that the record was in your grasp… what is it like to look at something that is perceived as being an iconic record, a record from 1995, you said in a quote that it was a record you had dreamt of. Something from childhood that you wished you could achieve. It is a massive undertaking. For you it is more than a record, it’s your life.

KJ: I remember it well; I was 13 years old. I entered into a mountaineering center; I was talking to Jordi, the trainer. I said at the time that the record was impossible. I spoke to Jordi recently and he reminded me that I was dreaming about the Matterhorn all those years back and about the record. I thought it was the ultimate expression of our sport. It’s a beautiful summit. It has a logical line. It is a hard record, it is push running and climbing, so, it was in mind for many years… more than Mont Blanc and all the other records. About five years ago when I started to think about Summits of my Life, the Matterhorn was my goal. The other summits were really preparation for the Matterhorn and Bruno’s record. For me, it was the most difficult record in Skyrunning and mountain running. For example, Pikes Peak is not Skyrunning. I was really afraid, not of the mountain as I was climbing a lot but of the time. I summited the Matterhorn nine times before the ascent. The first time you climb you become aware of what is possible. You go up and down and say, wow, this is the time I need to beat. After going up and down nine times I think okay, I know the mountain, I am not going to fall, I know this mountain well. I was aware of where I could go hard and where I needed to go easy. However, the morning of the attempt I was nervous. I thought to myself, will I do this record or will I do four hours?

IC: A few people asked why you made the attempt at 3pm; it seems quite logical that the Matterhorn is a busy mountain so I assume the mountain would have been less busy?

KJ: Yes for sure. It is a busy mountain when conditions are good. When I climbed nine times I saw hardly anyone, just two or three teams. I was alone. The week of the attempt we had good days with warm and dry conditions and everyone was on the mountain. Over one hundred teams! So, I was talking with all the guides and the helpers. We asked the question, what do we do? So many people on the mountain and it would have been impossible. My first idea was to start between 7-8am but it would have been crazy to pass people. We decided to start later. It was the perfect decision. It was warm at the summit and I wore just a t-shirt and nobody was in the way. Everyone was going down or in the hut. I just had the safety guides to help. It was perfect!

Kilian Jornet-iancorless.com ©sebmontaz all rights reserved

Kilian Jornet-iancorless.com ©sebmontaz all rights reserved

IC: In the build up to the record, you actually met up with Bruno Brunod. Did he go on the mountain with you or did you just talk about your attempt?

KJ: Bruno said he never climbed the Matterhorn after his attempt. We met in Cervinia and discussed his record. What conditions he had, how he prepared, how he was mentally and then we discussed the rope, the short cuts and how he made time. It is funny, Bruno stopped running in 2003 but last year he started running again and he is now preparing Tor des Geants. He never ran long distances; he was afraid. I said, c’mon man, you are strong, and you can do well in these races.

IC: So, Bruno has gone from no running to doing one of the longest races on the calendar, I guess when you are Bruno Brunod you don’t do things by half. When you go on the mountain to learn and understand, what process does that involve? Do you have several options to attempt the summit and therefore you try them or do you have a defined route and then you put that route in your mind so that you know every step. You know you can push in one place and you won’t slip in another place?

KJ: It’s one route. The Lion Ridge is the classic route and the fastest. It is the historical route and the same as Bruno used and those before him. You work out the differences but it is a thin ridge, you have several places that you can pass but yes, it is about planning. It is about knowing where to put your feet, knowing where to push and when not. I think you need to understand the mountain. You have parts in the west and north face and they are thin in the ridge and you can have ice. If you go in the morning you will have ice. If you go after 10am then this will be water so you can go there. You need to spend time to understand how it works, to understand the mountain and its life. Always in the north face it was icy, so I was aware I needed more care. On the west side I could push harder as the rock was warm and the rubber of my shoes would have better grip. It is important to spend time and understand that exactly. For example, if it is cold or windy, my shoes don’t grip the same as a warm day. I need to know this so I know exactly where to go. It is super important to understand the mountain and how the weather conditions are.

IC: On the face of it, people look at you and think you are very relaxed and casual. I know, I have seen you work and I have seen you study a mountain, you know the history, you go into in depth research to make sure these attempts are correct and that you know what you are doing. It is obviously very important. You have mentioned a simple thing like shoe rubber. Did you have special shoes?

KJ: Yes I tried different rubbers. I always used the Salomon Sense but I had different soles, different grades of rubber. For the attempt I used a softer rubber for grip. In the snow any shoe glides. You just need the technique of a flat foot and the ability to push.

IC: What is great about these attempts in comparison to Bruno, for example, in 1995 I guess Bruno stood in the square in Cervinia and just a few people were around probably having a beer, but Marino Giacometti and Lauri Van Houten were instrumental in Bruno’s attempt. They helped finance it, they arranged the safety, they arranged a helicopter and of course they got involved in your attempt. Fortunately for us we had the opportunity to have Seb Montaz follow the process, for those who know Seb, he is like your self a master of his craft. We have had some great glimpses of your summit; short videos are already on YouTube. Clips of you running a ridge jumping a crevice, or sliding down snow. It brings what you do into perspective. We can talk about you going up and down the Matterhorn but it’s easy to think, ok! But we may not have an idea of the difficulty or danger. These videos convey this. It is an important aspect. Is it a way to record you achievement but is it also a way to attract people to the mountains and also let people understand the beauty and danger?

KJ: It is the second for sure. It is not about my achievement. When I stop it will be in my mind. It is more a learning process. It enables the people to join us in the mountain and it enables everyone to understand. It’s beautiful, it is nice but it is also very difficult. It takes preparation, we do take some risks but the videos help motivate and inform. The way I go the mountain is possible but you need to learn. For me, my summit was the Matterhorn; I understood my capacity, my ability and my technical skill. I accept the risk. For everyone else it may be here or close to the home. We want to show and share that you can be light in the mountains and hopefully more people will understand. I go naked to the mountain.

Kilian Jornet ©laurivanhouten_ISF

Kilian Jornet ©laurivanhouten_ISF

IC: The actual record. You started 3pm from Cervinia. You are in Salomon Sense, shorts, T-shirt and a jacket around your waist. You look like you are going for a run… of course that is what you are doing! You start and in the early stages it is easy and then it becomes tricky, technical, you have ropes, ridges, faces to ascend and so on, how do you process the attempt in your mind. Did you have specific targets, so, did you know what time you wanted to be at a certain place or do you go on feel? I know in the early stages you only had about 3 minutes on Bruno’s record, it was maybe a little too hot but once past a certain point you really opened up time. Of course on the descent you came down super quick. You did 2:52:02 instead of 3:14:44. I believe Bruno predicted 2:52! Were you surprised?

KJ: I was really surprised. When Bruno said 2:52 I said, no way.  I was thinking, I might break the record by 2-3 minutes maximum. Maybe 3:10 would be a good time? During my practice runs I never ran fast because in the hard parts you don’t want to go hard. It’s like a lottery and taking numbers… you leave taking numbers for race day! The only time I went faster was the second day when I trained. I thought, wow, maybe I can beat Bruno’s time. If I am close to Bruno’s time then I can go faster. I spoke to Seb Montaz on the morning of the attempt, he said if you are at the summit within 2 hours it will be so good, you will have time for the downhill. I said, yeah I will be so very happy. When I started the summit attempt it was the afternoon so this was good at the top because it was warm, however, it was warm in the valley too. I don’t like warm. I started with a good pace but it was hard to find the strength. I saw lots of people and friends. Bruno was shouting at me, ski friends shouted, guides from Cervinia, Nuria Picas was there and so on… they gave me energy. I said to myself, I must keep going, I must push. I had Bruno’s time in my mind but I had no prediction of what I could do.

Kilian Jornet-iancorless.com ©sebmontaz all rights reserved

Kilian Jornet-iancorless.com ©sebmontaz all rights reserved

I was close to Bruno’s time until the Leone Col then the ridge starts and then I came into my own. It is where I love to run. It’s technical, you need to climb and you need to push. It is exposed. I love to be exposed on the mountain. From here I was not moving fast but fluid. This is the way to move in this terrain, if you go fast and you go more than you can you will have an accident. Moving fluid allows me to move quickly. I started to gain time all the way up to the summit. I looked at my watch and I saw I was almost 12 minutes in front of Bruno’s time, I said to myself, wow, this is incredible. It is possible! Okay, I said, I can do it. I was happy but I could not disconnect. It is a long down hill to Cervinia; I needed to be sure of every step. The boss of the guides in Cervinia said to me at the summit, you can do it! I started down in deep concentration. I was enjoying it so much; I love to run the technical sections. You don’t push with your legs; you push with your mind. Where to put your feet, where to put your hands, when to glide, when to go faster, when to stop, this is what I love, I was enjoying it so much. When the most technical part stopped, I realized I was almost 20 minutes in front of Bruno; so, the last part was just pushing to the finish.

Kilian Jornet-iancorless.com ©sebmontaz all rights reserved

Kilian Jornet-iancorless.com ©sebmontaz all rights reserved

IC: Myself and many other people were very worried about the Matterhorn. We respected the mountain and we anticipated that you would push; pushing brings danger, so when you got to the summit and you knew you were ahead of Bruno’s time did that mean that the descent was easier, you took less risks than if the time had been very close.

KJ: Yes of course. If I had been at the summit in 2:10 I wouldn’t have come down at the speed I did. I would have taken more risks. I also think that this doesn’t work! Many people who saw me said that I was going down very fast, they said I looked really fluid and that I wasn’t taking risks yet I was very fast. I think this is the way to go down the mountain. If you take risks the body position is different, you can’t glide as well and so on. You lean back and this slows you. If you feel confident, you can go fast. I think maybe I could have gained 6-7 seconds by taking risks. It’s nothing! These 6 or 7 seconds may have been my life… I knew the route very well and I had no need to take additional risks. I just wanted to be confident. My mother was on the mountain and she had bad memories of when she climbed the Matterhorn for the first time but if you climb again and again, you know it’s risky but it isn’t necessary to take risks, it is about being confident.

Kilian Jornet ©laurivanhouten_ISF

Kilian Jornet ©laurivanhouten_ISF

IC: When you arrived in Cervinia, it was like the end of a race. It was incredible. The barriers were out. It was almost like the race finish here in Zermatt. Did this surprise you?

KJ: Yes, I was completely surprised. I was in Cervinia for three weeks sleeping in my van in preparation for the attempt. I was surprised by the reception by everyone. For example, the first day I climbed the Matterhorn I was with Emelie. We climbed with running shoes and when we reached the top, the mountain guides said, ‘wow, you are going with run shoes. Congratulations. Do you want to try the Matterhorn record, can we help you? Tell us the day, we want to help you’. There is not another place that is like this, we usually get the response of, ‘What are you doing here in run shoes, this is ridiculous’. Not in Cervinia, they wanted to help us right from the start. Every time I climbed it was so open, the support was great. I was always asked, ‘tell us what day you go and we will help. We want to be on the mountain to help and support you’. It was the same for the hotels in Cervinia, they offered me showers or they said if I needed anything such as Internet that I could use the Wi-Fi. It was an incredible ambience. People were happy that I was in Cervinia to do the record and they got behind me. I think this was the most beautiful part of the record. I went just with my van, I was alone to climb but everyone was supporting the team and myself. It was so easy then to do the record. The day before my attempt, I made a call to the mountain rescue and said, ‘Tomorrow I go’. He replied, ‘Okay, how many people do you need? We will put people in the mountains for safety in case you have a mistake’. He called the mountain guides and they said, okay, we will put people here and here. The guides had finished work at midday on Wednesday and then they returned to the mountain to support me. It is unique. The reception was so fantastic.

Great video here on YouTube ©Martin Mikloš

IC: It was incredible the level of support you got. Knowing you, you would have quite happily got out of your van, started in the square and returned with no fuss. Marino Giacometti made a very good point, these record attempts do need to be verified, it does need an element of proof that you do go to the top and do come back down. Of course we are not questioning your honesty. But for future records a structure needs to be in place. I guess if we set a standard for the future it can only be a good thing. Does that mean for future attempts such as Elbrus in Russia, will you start to incorporate this system.

KJ: Yes, I know I need someone to do the chrono and I am aware I need someone at the summit. For Mont Blanc, I had people from the Tourist Office to confirm my attempt and I had guides at the summit. I also have the gps files on my Suunto. At the Matterhorn it wasn’t an issue, we had everyone in place and it was almost taken out of my hands. For example, Marino Giacometti did the chrono in Cervinia but the guides etc. were fully behind the attempt and they verified the route. My chrono was radioed to all the guides on the mountain so my progress could be monitored. It is important to be true. It is just like doping control… it is about integrity, my intentions are 100%, it is important to do a record in the correct way. I am aware that many ‘FKT’s have no control, I personally believe in the people but when you see the world and see the problems, I am aware of the issues of how people can not be honest.

IC: What was great about this attempt, because you had a team of people up the mountain, we had time checks back that meant that we could Tweet and Facebook times to the world. This was so exciting. Social media became alive following you. I think we stopped so many people from working. They wanted to follow. It is interesting from my perspective because it is what I do, but I guess the concept of someone running up and down a mountain and that message being sent around the world, some may think, why is that interesting? But it is so exciting; the updates had people glued to your progress. Can you relate to it or do you just think about the mountain?

Video courtesy of Seb Montaz ©sebmontaz

KJ: When I am on the mountain. I am 100% focused. I need to be in my moment and think about where I put my feet, how fast do I go. If my mind wanders I will loose time or maybe my life, so I was super focused on moving as quickly as possible. It is just the mountain and I. The social media and the photography I leave to others. For example, Seb was in the helicopter but I never saw or heard it even though he was so close. This is because I needed to be 100% committed. I think this is nice. In racing I think for the last three years I have managed my effort and therefore I don’t need to focus as much but this was completely different. It was like the first time I raced ten years ago when I was super focused. It is a super nice feeling.

IC: Certainly social media has made what you are doing so accessible which is great for us but it is also great for you and everyone else involved. I guess now your energy focuses on Russia and Mt Elbrus?

KJ: Yes, I need to relax a little first…

IC: You said that to me last time, when I interviewed you in the Dolomites. You told me you wouldn’t race for a month and then you went to Sierre-Zinal.

KJ: Ah yes, I was close to Sierre-Zinal, it was just the other side of the Matterhorn, so it was good training. Plus it was the 40th edition. Now I take a couple of weeks with no racing but I will train a lot, I love that; I need to do it to be alive. I will train but not race until UROC in the US. I will focus on Elbrus for the next few weeks; I want to go to Russia before UROC, maybe the 15th September. I will plan around that date and train at altitude.

IC: So does that mean you will do the Elbrus summit before UROC?

KJ: Yes, I think so. After UROC I have Skyrunner World Series, Limone Extreme and the then Diagonale des Fous, so, after this I want a break.

IC: You say a break, does that mean ski mountaineering?

KJ: It means one week of no training and then I will be in the mountains for November and December but I won’t race.

IC: Okay, we will follow you and see if you do race… Kilian it has been fantastic for you to give me so much time to talk about the Matterhorn. It’s great to get such an insight. Finally, when are we going to see the full edited Seb Montaz movie of this year or the recent summit?

KJ: We are working on it and of course we will work more after Elbrus. November and December will see much of the work being done in edit, so we hope before the end of the year. Maybe late December?

IC: Perfect. Thank you so much for your time.

Kilian Jornet-iancorless.com ©sebmontaz all rights reserved

Kilian Jornet-iancorless.com ©sebmontaz all rights reserved

The Matterhorn – A history and perspective

“It is a technical mountain. Bruno Brunod has a record of 3:14:44. 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.” Kilian Jornet, July 2013.

Monte Cervino (Italian) or Mont Cervin (French) or Just the Matterhorn is a mountain on the border between Switzerland and Italy. At 4,478 meters (14,690 ft) high, it one of the highest peaks in the Alps. It consists of four steep faces, striking above the glaciers that surround it. Overlooking the town of Zermatt it is an iconic mountain and possibly ‘the’ most photographed mountain in the world. It is a mountain that dreams are mad of. Kilian Jornet is no different, “I have been dreaming about this record since I was 15”.

Ironically, the Matterhorn was one of the last great Alpine peaks to be climbed and the first ascent by Edward Whymper in 1865 brought an end to the ‘Golden age of alpinism (The period between Alfred Wills ascent of the Wetterhorn in 1854 and Whymper’s ascent of the Matterhorn in 1865, this period saw many peaks in the Alps have first ascents)

Since 1865 to 1995 it has been described as one of the deadliest peaks in the Alps, over five hundred lives have been lost in this 130yr period. I guess the first ascent in 1865 showed us the danger potential when four climbers fell to their deaths on the descent.

The Matterhorn has two distinct summit, both situated on a 100-metre-long rocky ridge: the Swiss summit with a height of 4,477.5 meters (14,690 ft) on the east and the Italian summit with a height of 4,476.4 meters (14,686 ft) on the west. Their names originated from the first ascents, not for geographic reasons, as both are located on the border. Each summer a large number of mountaineers try to climb the Matterhorn via the northeast Hörnli ridge, the most popular route to the summit.

Small patches of snow and ice cling to the faces of the Matterhorn, but the faces are steep and regular avalanches occur. Snow hurtles down the four sides and accumulates on the glaciers at the base of each face.

Four main ridges separate the four faces of the Matterhorn and therefore it offers four distinct routes.  The least difficult technical climb and by far the most popular is the Hörnli Ridge, which lies between the east, and north faces and it faces the town of Zermatt. The Zmutt Ridge (west), between the north and west faces is, according to Collomb, “the classic route up the mountain, it’s the longest ridge and also the most disjointed.

The Lion Ridge, lying between the south and west face is the Italian normal route.  It is the shortest route on the mountain and has fixed ropes in place but many think it to be a far superior climb, particularly when compared to Hörnli Ridge. Furggen Ridge is the final offering, it is the hardest offering and in good conditions is not too difficult, and it does however have a reputation.

©copyright .iancorless.com.P1000082J.J and J.P Maquignaz made the first ascent of the Italian ridge as it is climbed today in 1867 but Kilian Jornet had his eyes on Bruno Brunod’s record set in 1995 when he did Breuil-Cervinia to the Matterhorn summit and back in an astonishing time of 3:14:44. In addition, Bruno also has the record for climbing the Matterhorn, again from Breuil-Cervinia just to the summit in a time of 2:10.

Back in 1995, Skyrunning president, Marino Giacometti and Executive Director, Lauri Van Houten were not only present but also helped finance Bruno’s attempt. Lauri still says how the thought of it, “brings shivers down my back”.  Lauri and Marino both acknowledge the danger and undertaking that Kilian had given himself. “I remember standing in the square in Cervinia and about 3 hours 10 min had elapsed. There was a real buzz and noise and then somebody shouted, he’s coming! We all ignored it; we thought it couldn’t be possible… but minutes later Bruno appeared. It was a magical moment, one I will never forget”, says Lauri.

Bruno is very much considered the father of Skyrunning. His exploits, to this day seem to go beyond human limit. Without doubt, Kilian Jornet is in the same mold and in real terms, Bruno has lead the way for what Kilian now wants to achieve with his Summits project. Kilian’s final Summit will be Everest. Bruno himself attempted Everest; he however gave up when at a height of 8.200mt (26,900 feet) due to very hard weather conditions.

Bruno’s passion and time is now focused on his construction company, however, just recently he joined Kilian on the Matterhorn as he prepared for his Matterhorn attempt. Two masters together discussing the mountain. Without doubt, Bruno played a big part in the successful attempt by Kilian and ironically he predicted a time of 2:52:00. Maybe Bruno knows Kilian better than Kilian?

Bruno’s records:

  • Matterhorn uphill and downhill from Cervinia in 3:14
  • Monte Rosa uphill and downhill from Gressoney in 4:45
  • Aconcagua uphill and downhill in 5:57
  • Kilimanjaro uphill on the Marangu Route in 5:38
  • Mount Elbert uphill in 1:54
  • Three times winner of the Becca di Nona SkyRace (2002 – 2003 – 2004)

See ISF recognised records at skyrunning.com

The Matterhorn ©iancorless.com all rights reserved

The Matterhorn ©iancorless.com all rights reserved

READ THE KILIAN JORNET INTERVIEW, pre MATTERHORN HERE

CREDITS:

Firstly, a big thank you to Kilian Jornet, for his time, his patience and his inspiration.

Interview conducted by Ian Corless ©iancorless.com no reproduction or quoting without prior permission, all rights reserved.

Images provided by: iancorless.com, Lauri van Houten (ISF) or Seb Montaz – all protected under © copyright. No reproduction without permission.

Video ©sebmontaz

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=10200896714474535