Kilian Jornet completes Hytteplanmila 10km Road Race in 29:59.

Kilian Jornet with a final push to the line, Hytteplanmila 10km Road Race.

Zerei Kbrom Mezngi ran 28:20 at Hytteplanmila 10km Road Race on Saturday, taking the overall win ahead of Narve Gilje Nordâs and Bjønar Lillefosse, 28:28 and 28:45 respectively. For the women, it was a record day for Karoline Bjerkeli Grøvdal who ran 30:32 breaking her old course record of 32:25 set in 2017 and the long-standing national record held by the legend, Ingrid Kristiansen set in 1989. It was a huge day for Karoline!

Karoline amongst the men in the opening mile.

The Hytteplanmila 10km Road Race is a big deal in Norway attracting the best-of-the-best. Normally, 1000’s would toe the line but 2020 and Covid-19 changed all that and instead it was an invitation race only with specific criteria,  37.20 (38.20 *) for women and 31.20 (32.00 *) for men (10,000 meters / 10 kilometers in 2019/2020, or equivalent achievements) * If there are vacancies in the heats. The race took place in waves, 1 minute separating each with no more than 25-runners per heat.

The Ingebrigtsen brothers would toe the line, Jakob having won the race and set the course record in 2019 with a sub 28:00 performance. However, eyes were on mountain running legend, Kilian Jornet, who would toe the line in his first ever official road race.

Kilian pre-race

Despite the profile of the race, it’s a low-key affair taking place the community of Hole, close to Hønefoss and approximately 1-hour from Oslo. The morning was cold, grey and mist was low making for an almost ethereal feel ahead of the 1330 start.

Kilian arrived in his camping car and despite having specific media documenting the process, his presence was not acknowledged by the rest of the runner’s. This is a Scandanavian thing but also an acknowledgement that although Kilian maybe a star on the mountain, ultra and trail scene, in a road race, he is unknown…

Kilian used a face mask, a requirement at registration.

Donning a face mask, his number was collected and he returned to his vehicle to prepare. I asked him how he felt ahead of the challenge:

“I feel good but I have been carrying a tibial injury which has impacted on training for the last 2-weeks, but I hope for around 29:30. We shall see…”

Kilian used the new Salomon S/Lab Phantasm road shoe.

The chill in the air was noticeable for all and 30-minutes before the start, Kilian added a jacket and hat and moved to the opening mile of the race route and gently warmed up.

Kilian pre warm up.
Kilian warming up.

Around him, the road was full of runners. Looking on it was apparent, with the exception of one or two, that Kilian was one of the oldest competitors amongst this elite field. His 32-years by no means old, but the average age was late teens or early 20’s. They ran up and down the road striding out, sprinting and looking focussed, almost blinkered. Kilian by contrast looked calm, relaxed and happy to do his own thing.

Kilian doing his own thing in preparation for the start.

At 1345 the sound of a gun announced the start of the first group of 25 and amongst them was Kilian. A lead car showed the time. Several bikes had cameramen to live stream the race and Kilian had his own following bike and live feed.

The elite pack in the opening mile. The Ingebrigtsen brothers leading the way.

Kilian was mid-pack and striding out looking relaxed and focused. No doubt looking around and trying to find his place. He went on to say post-race, “It’s a fun experience to race with so many talented runners but I am not used to having other people so close and I found it hard to find a place and avoid other peoples feet, especially in the early stages.”

Kilian finding his place, speed and stride in the elite group.

Having run 29:42 in training straight after a VK, it was realistic that Kilian could achieve 29:30 or faster. As the race unfolded, the front of the race forged ahead. Kilian, jokingly said before the race, “I am no 9 but I will not finish in this position!”

The brothers did not have their day, Jakob had not looked good warming up and he dropped from the race. His brother, Filip would finish in 29:03.

Filip running 29:03 for 6th place.

Zerei Kbrom Mezngi was the winner opening up a significant gap and powering in the final stretch for the uphill finish crossing in 28:20, 8-seconds ahead of Narve Gilje Nordâs.

Zerei Kbrom Mezngi
Narve Gilje Nordâs

Attention then turned to looking down the road and the arrival of Kilian. Five runners went sub 29:00 and then 8-runners followed to go sub 29:30. The next runner 29:41, 29:44, 29:46 and then Kilian emerged at the bottom of the slope with the motorbike to his right hand side. One runner was ahead of him who crossed in 29:54.

Kilian was now in full flight, both feet off the ground and he was pushing for the line. No doubt desperate to go sub 30:00.

Kilian with 100m to go.

While those around him collapsed to the floor grasping for air, Kilian crossed the line, smiled, his 29:59 did not show… 18th place.

Kilian immediately after the finish.

He looked content, and was soon able to provide comments on his first experience racing on the road.

“I felt the injury, so I am a little disappointed for that. It was very interesting, very different to when you go training, you can keep a steady pace. Here it was fast at the beginning and I am not used to so many people and being so close. It’s difficult to understand my place. The first km was fine as it is downhill. It was a great experience and it motivates me to have another try…!”

Kilian talking about the race and his experience.

“I don’t think the injury is a real problem but I need to rest a little and get rid of it. When I run a VK the effort is typically 30-minutes but this is different. In terms of cardio, for me it was kind of easy all the time. It’s the legs, you need to feel light and keep the speed. It’s very different. The first 4 to 5km with more people was a challenge as you are almost cm’s from the other runners. I need to get used to that. I learned a great deal. I will try again, at least in the short term, but next year I want to climb… I have some specific goals. I just need more experience.”

“I will try again, at least in the short term, but next year I want to climb… I have some specific goals. I just need more experience.”

You can view the race video HERE

Kilian said only 18-months ago that running on a road had no interest for him. But now we see him testing himself over a 10km distance. From conversations, I know he has the desire to toe the line of a road marathon. On paper, that would suit him better allowing him to combine speed with endurance. For now though, we can marvel at 29:59 and speculate what is to come in the future.

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Hytteplanmila 10km Road Race Preview – Kilian Jornet Takes To The Road.

Kilian Jornet, Scotland.

All eyes will be on Hønefoss, a small region of Norway just 45-minutes from Oslo come Saturday 17th October.

Norwegian star Jakob Ingebrigtsen (born 19 September 2000) hopefully will toe the line of the Hytteplanmila, a race where he ran 27:54 in 2019. Jakob needs no introduction, particularly to the Scandinavian field (including his brothers tbc) that will assemble next to him come Saturday. In 2020 alone he set a Norwegian 5km record 13:28, He won National Championships at 1500m and 800m. Set a European 2000m record in Oslo and added a Norwegian 3000m record and a European 1500m record.

Jakob if he races, is without doubt the one to watch on Saturday.

However, the mountain, ultra and trail world will be looking at Kilian Jornet who will toe the line for his first foray on to the road running a flat out 10km with the best of the best that Scandinavia has to offer.

Kilian at home in the mountains on the iconic Trofeo Kima course.

Hytteplanmila is usually a large event with 1000’s of runners (over 3000 in 2019). It is arguably the most popular 10km race in Norway and the one that attracts the best elites. However, Covid-19 has impacted on the race and for 2020 there is a special race for invited athletes only along with a virtual race. The criteria being 37.20 (38.20 *) for women and 31.20 (32.00 *) for men (10,000 meters / 10 kilometers in 2019/2020, or equivalent achievements) * If there are vacancies in the heats.

Many of Norway’s and the Nordic countries’ best long-distance runners will come to participate in this year’s elite race with eight starting fields of up to 25 runners.

The women’s race was won in 2019 by Sigrid Jervell Våg in 32:52, the previous year Meraf Bahta ran 31:58. Remarkably, the previous 6-editions dating back to 2012 ere won by Karoline Bjerkeli Grøvdal, her fastest time being 31:25 in 2017 which is the course record.

DATE: October 17, 2020

PLACE: Svendsrudmoen (Trongmoen 41, 3530 Røyse)

TIME: 13.30

STARTING GROUPS (seeding):

  • A1 (25)
  • A2 (25)
  • A3 (25)
  • A4 (25)
  • A5 (25)
  • A6 (25)
  • A7 (25)
  • A8 (25)

On paper, the challenge ahead of Kilian is very real and while many in the trail running world will be rooting for Kilian, the reality is that he will not be in contention for the podium or maybe even the top-10?

“I will see how I feel… but anyway, I will be far from the front guys! Being close to 29’ I will be super happy!” – Kilian Jornet

Jakob Ingebrigtsen, Sondre Nordstad Moen, Samuel Tsagay, Filip Ingebrigtsen, Henrik Ingebrigtsen, Senay Fissehatsion (ERI), Urige Buta, Musael Temesghen, Richard Douma and Mesfun Tesfayohannes have all run 29:00 or less previously, so the task ahead is real.

Kilian’s ability to cross over disciplines and sports has always been an interest to sports fans all over the world and many have asked, repeatedly, “I wonder what Kilian would run in a road marathon?”

Well, Kilian had hoped to show us in 2020 having planned to run an official marathon. Maybe, if the opportunity arises, he may well still do, but Covid-19 has impacted on any road race of any significant size. However, Kilian has trained accordingly and openly admitted he did too much too soon earlier in the year.

“My plan this summer was to do mostly flat training but an injury came… After a few months injured, I start slowly to train properly in flat again. It’s curious how I was able to do anything I wanted in the mountains but couldn’t hit any meter of flat terrain without pain.”

In August, the mountain master showed us one of his favourite training sessions as his injury woes started to leave and his ability to train both flat and in the mountains returned.

“I do what I call VK10K… I run a vertical kilometer (1000m vertical ascent) run down easy and then run a flat 10km.”

Kilian on the road underneath Slogen summit (which he had just run up) next to the fjord to Urke.

He ran an astounding 29:57 for the VK and then 29:42 for the 10km. Both times incredible and while the VK time comes as no surprise, the 10km time certainly made many take a second look, especially with this coming on tired legs.

29:00 may well be possible come Saturday, one thing is for sure, it is certainly going to be interesting to see what unfolds. Unlike in mountain, ultra and trail races where the top-10 can be separated by minutes and even hours, this 10km will come down to seconds. We can certainly expect 28-minutes to 29-minutes have somewhere in the region of 10-athletes, can Kilian be one of them?

What time do you think Kilian will run?

Stats:

Course Record WOMEN: Karoline Bjerkeli Grøvdal 31.25 (2017)

Course Record MEN: Jakob Ingebrigtsen 27.54 (2019)

National Record WOMEN: Ingrid Kristiansen 30.59 (1989)

National Record MEN: Jakob Ingebrigtsen 27.54 (2019)

European Record Women (Paula Radcliffe (GBR) 30.21 (2003)

European Record Men: Julien Wanders (SUI) 27.13 (2020)

*****

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