Kilian Jornet - Ski Mountaineering Champion Interview

© Suunto
Kilian Jornet has been described as the world's greatest runner. He is also a multiple ski-mountaineering world champion and accomplished alpinist.

In this interview Tarquin Cooper asks him about his running, alpinism, his new book and his big new project 'summits-of-my-life'.

Kilian Jornet  © Suunto
Kilian Jornet
© Suunto

Tarquin: So are you a trail runner or mountaineer?

Kilian: I am a trail runner, I am a ski mountaineer, I am an alpinist but first I am just a person who loves the mountains. I spend every day in the mountains. I feel I'm at home there.

Tarquin: Why the special bond?

Kilian: I love it because the landscape is amazing and full of challenges but I think the mountain gives a lot back. Humans are animals and when you are in the mountains, you feel that you are nothing. And when you are nothing, you have everything to discover. You feel that you are really small and that's important to know. But I l also love to race, to go fast — to go, yeah!

Tarquin: Your race schedule is pretty busy.

Kilian: I do 45 races a year. My year is split between ski-mountaineering in winter and trail running in summer. I get to spend just one-and-a-half months at my home in Chamonix as I'm always travelling!

Tarquin: Your training plan?

Kilian: I train twice a day, 3-5hrs in the morning, 1-2hrs in the afternoon, 20-30 hours a week. I don't measure the distance but record the altitude— between 16,000m to 23,000m a week.

Tarquin: How young were you when you started?

Kilian: I did my first 3,000m peak when I was three years old! That was normal. Another time, when I was eight, I spent 15 hours in the mountains with my mother without food and water. I have conditioned my body to long distances from an early age!

Tarquin: What's next?

Kilian: 'Summits of my Life' is a three-year project in which we intend to run the length of the world's greatest mountain ranges, trying to climb and descend some of the most spectacular mountains in the world as quickly as possible.

[The project is an attempt to set speed records on the highest mountains of Europe, the Americas, culminating with Mt Everest in 2015. Tragically, during an attempt to break the ski- traverse record of Mt Blanc in June, Jornet's partner Stéphane Brosse suffered a fatal fall. Jornet has vowed to carry on in his memory. The fall was covered in the UKC News.]

Tarquin: Is Everest your style?

Kilian: We will avoid the normal route and try to find a different route where we can be alone — maybe the Norton or Holbein couloir. But nothing is confirmed.

Tarquin: Tell us about your new book, Run or Die.

Kilian: I wrote it last year and it's a new experience for me. At first I told my editor that I'm too young to write a biography but I have written about some sensations and feelings when I run, and why I run. Every chapter is a different experience in the mountains, not just racing. I wrote it in Catalan and it's been translated into Spanish, French, Italian and Portuguese. Only the first chapter is out in English and it's published on my blog.

Tarquin: S what do you think about when running?

Kilian: Not the pain! When you run for long distances it's impossible to avoid pain - it's there for everyone. When it comes you need to think of other things — the landscape, you talk with the racers, listen to music. I think about stories, like I'm a warrior being chased by an army. To not think about pain, you need to be in another world.

Tarquin: What's your favourite bit of gear?

Kilian: The Suunto Ambit is important as I don't plan before training and I don't know where I'm training the next week. But the Ambit allows me to see what I've done and control my training. The GPS watch is really useful for logging kms and recording altitude.

Tarquin: Your ultimate goal?

Kilian: My main goal, like everybody, is to be happy. To be happy for me is to be in the mountains - and to push myself in the mountains.

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26 Jul, 2012
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