Kilian Jornet: the wisdom of the mountains.
Catalonian with an Alpine passion.
There are many paths to wisdom. Some people gain wisdom through experience won with age. Others withdraw to read or meditate in isolated locations. None of these apply to Kilian Jornet. Put simply, the 28-year-old spends most of his time running up and down mountains. “Doing things which make you unhappy is senseless”. Simple wisdom which often fails in the face of reality. Yet the Catalonian lives what he believes. He has found his happiness in the mountains.
As high as his feet can carry him.
Kilian Jornet stretches out his legs. Legs feared by the competition and celebrated by mountain sport fans all over the world. They have carried him up and down from the world’s peaks in record times. “I am just a mountain climber who has fun”, he answers with a smile. For Kilian Jornet, having fun means: running up and back down Mont Blanc in 4:57 hours. A world record time. Crossing the Pyrenees in 8 days, covering 850 kilometres and a cumulative elevation of 42,000 meters. Climbing Mount McKinley, North America’s highest mountain at 6,186 meters, on foot in the snow and fog in order to ski back down. A journey of 11:48 hours. And naturally, a record time. Kilian Jornet dominates endurance mountain sports.
He is the multiple world champion in ultra-trail running, extreme mountain races usually between 80 and 160 kilometres long. He numbers among the world's best in sky running, shorter mountain races between 20 and 42 kilometres and also in vertical climbing. The Spaniard is also in a class of his own in ski mountain climbing, a discipline in which the competitors climb the mountain on foot and ski back down.
A child of the mountains. A man of the mountains.
People ask Kilian why he put himself through this. 'Why not?', he asks in return, with a smile. 'It makes me happy.' The Spaniard is a child of the mountains. He grew up in the Pyrenees. His father was a mountain guide and his mother was a skiing instructor. He matured into a man during his un-resting journeys through the world's mountain chains.
More than a few experts regard him as the best endurance athlete on the planet. Yet Kilian Jornet would never compete in one of the lucrative road marathons: 'I do not like just running senseless kilometre after kilometre', said the Spaniard. 'Reaching a peak, the view from up there, the cliffs, the mountains. That is what defines the sport.'
Perfect conditions for top performance.
Kilian has the ideal mental and physical prerequisites for his sport: 171 centimetres tall and weighing 58 kilograms, he is the perfect athlete for endurance sports. Kilian Jornet’s resting pulse was measured at 34 bpm and his lung volume at 5.3 liters. Numbers typical of the world’s best cyclists and marathon runners. When Kilian Jornet makes a record attempt then he only takes the absolute essentials with him. His motto is: “If you want to move fast in the mountains then run lightly”. He has chosen the Marco Polo from Mercedes-Benz as his accommodation for training phases in order to ensure that he is in perfect mental condition for the next day’s top performance.
“The vehicle is the ideal starting point for my route for the day”, emphasizes Kilian. “It is comfortable, perfectly equipped and provides me with a place to gather my strength.” Kilian often uses the kitchen in the Marco Polo to prepare warm tea and the integrated table to record his thoughts and goals in his notebook.
Learning from the mountains.
Kilian Jornet radiates a sense of relaxed calm. But simply reducing him to a relaxed “Sunny Boy” barely scratches the surface. He started the Summits of my Life project in 2012. The project is not about titles and medals, but about speed records. The exceptional runner from the Pyrenees has chosen some of the most demanding and highest mountains in the world. After storming up Mont Blanc, the Matterhorn, Denali and the Aconcagua, South America’s highest mountain, 2015 was supposed to be the year for Mount Everest. However, the earthquake in Nepal and the accompanying destruction prevented the attempt. Nevertheless, Kilian Jornet travelled to Nepal with mountaineering friends to help the victims there. “The mountain can demand a lot from us. But it also gives us what we need to breathe”, says Kilian Jornet. The mountains taught him this.
What Kilian needed for the record (04:57 h) at Mont Blanc (4810 m):
· Trail running shoes
· Thermal T-shirt
· Windproof jacket
· Windproof pants
· Belt bag
· Neck warmer
· 0.5 l water
· Two ice picks
· 15 meters of rope