Spanish star is racing in the Sept. 28 Ultra Race of Champions in Colorado.
Kilian Jornet is the first international breakout star of trail running. Certainly there have been many other great trail runners throughout the past 40 years, and there are plenty of amazing runners now. But given Jornet’s victories, records and exposure in recent years, no one’s star shines brighter than the 25-year-old from the Catalonia region of Spain.
Jornet, who is in Colorado this weekend to race in the Ultra Race of Champions 100K trail running race, has won two of the biggest races in the U.S. so far — the Western States 100 in 2011 and the Pikes Peak Marathon in 2012. He’s also set a record for running up Mt. Sanitas in Boulder, Colo., and the Grand Teton in Wyoming (the latter of which has since been broken).
But more than the competitive battles of racing or even the rush of zipping up and down a mountain in quest of a record time, what fuels Jornet is his pure love of being in nature. As simplistic or ridiculously Euro-centric as it might sound, it’s anything but disingenuous. His mother was a mountain guide and his father was a ski instructor and they taught him to respect and connect with the natural world long before he had any inkling of his world-beating endurance talents.
Run with Jornet and you’ll see him stop to feel the texture of a tree’s bark, smell wildflowers or quietly watch water trickle over rocks. It’s refreshing, to say the least, especially knowing how dominant and competitive he is when he’s on the move. And although he’s a gentle soul, he is nothing if not fiercely competitive when he wants to be.
But for Jornet, it starts and ends with having a deep respect for the mountains, trails, forest, streams and everything else in an Alpine environment.
“It’s not about the records for me or for the time. It’s about the process of getting to know the mountain, to run it over and over again getting to know it in the morning, in the rain, in the dark, when it’s hot or cold. It’s about how you run, not how fast,” Jornet said on Sept. 26 while speaking at The Boulder Running Company store in Boulder, Colo. “It’s the process of understanding the mountain that helps me to run it fast. It’s like a relationship with a person. You might live with that person your whole life and not know them completely. A mountain is much bigger, like a thousand hundred persons.”
Read more about Kilian Jornet from Competitor editor-in-chief Brian Metzler at ESPN’s Endurance Sports site.