Kilian Jornet Shatters Tahoe Rim Trail Record

Kilian Jornet on his way to a new Tahoe Rim Trail Record. Photo: Courtesy of Event

Kilian Jornet on his way to a new Tahoe Rim Trail Record. Photo: Courtesy of Event

Young Spaniard breaks 14 year old Tahoe Rim record.

Written by:  Gordon Wright

Just after dusk tonight, heralded by a squadron of pacers and mountain bikers, trail running sensation Kilian Jornet ran into Tahoe City, completing a stunning circumnavigation of the 165-mile Tahoe Rim Trail in 38 hours, 32 minutes.

Jornet, the two-time defending champion of the Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc, had come to North America for the first time to challenge Tim Twietmeyer’s estimable 1995 record of 45 hours, 58 minutes.

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Making the record all the more noteworthy is Kilian’s youth: he is just 21 years old, and immediately after the run, he said, “I feel great, but I feel better now that I can stop running.”

The journey wasn’t without difficulty; he took a nearly two-hour nap Monday night, and he and pacer Sean Meissner got lost at 2:30 in the morning.  “We went a good two and half miles off track, and I was absolutely horrified,” said Meissner, who won the Tahoe Marathon just two days before beginning his pacing duties.  “But he didn’t even blink.  He just grabbed me by the shoulders, laughed and said, ‘More kilometers, more fun, Sean!’”

According to Kilian, the most difficult part of the endeavor was near the end: the last six kilometers from Echo Lake to Barker Pass, “The trail was just more difficult than I had imagined,” he noted.

Mark Kimbrough, the executive director of the Tahoe Rim Trail Association (TRTA), not only presented Kilian with a framed special edition of the Association’s TRT completion certificate, but also mustered the sort of quiet, unheralded support that made the journey a special one.  TRTA members, in small groups or often alone, provided extraordinary and vocal support at some of the loneliest spots on the course.

The Tahoe Rim Trail run is part of Kilian’s Quest, a globe-spanning journey of personal trail running expression supported by Salomon.  His earlier Quest attempt, on the notoriously difficult GR20 trail traverse of Corsica, resulted in similar results: he pulverized the record for the 120-mile trail with a time of 32 hours, 52 minutes.

Kilian’s journey along the Tahoe Rim Trail took him through a 165-mile (266km) loop wrapped around the largest alpine lake in North America. The trail is comprised mostly of multiuse single-track, connecting the peaks along the ridge tops of the Lake Tahoe Basin.  Passing through California and Nevada, the trail ranges in elevation from 6,240 feet to 10,338, with a total elevation gain of over 21,000 feet.

Jean-Yves Couput, Director of Marketing for Salomon USA, said “Kilian’s goal is to inspire people to experience the joy of the trails and the great outdoors — and in the process he is reinventing the sport of trail running.”

Readers and bloggers can follow Kilian’s Quest through his Face book page, (, via Twitter ( or on his blog (

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