Ultrarunning has gone mainstream today as the New York Times has published an excellent interview/profile of Kilian Jornet, perhaps the greatest endurance athlete on the planet. The article does an excellent job of showing Kilian not only as a focused and determined runner driven to accomplish his amazing goals but also as a regular guy who just happens to love being in the outdoors, just like you and me.
Of course, as we all know, he isn’t just a regular guy. This is the man who managed to run up and back down Kilimanjaro in just 7 hours, 14 minutes. He’s the guy that came out of nowhere to win the Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc at the age of 20, setting a new course record in the process. He has since won the Western States and just about any other ultra-marathon he has entered. Part of the reason he is so good is that his VO2 max has been recorded at 89.5, which is amongst the highest ever. But Kilian is also a relentless in his training, in part because he simply loves what he does so much.
As he continues to push himself to new heights, both literally and figuratively, Kilian is pursuing his Summits of My Life project, which will see him make speed attempts on a number of mountains, including Mont Blanc, Elbrus, Denali, Aconcagua and even Everest. The NYT article even suggests he may be headed to the Himalaya this spring to test his lungs and skills in that environment. They even compare him to guys like Ueli Steck and Chad Kellogg, who are more experienced pure mountaineers although probably not as gifted athletically.
Reading this profile I came away even more amazed at Kilian’s accomplishment. The man truly is a running and climbing machine. But I write about him, and other outdoor athletes like him on a regular basis, so hearing these stories doesn’t really surprise me all that much. I couldn’t help but wonder what the average New York Times reader must think when reading about his exploits however. I’d be willing to bet that a lot of them weren’t even aware that it is humanly possible to do some of the things that Jornet or other endurance athletes do. He is a special athlete to be sure.
Thanks to my friend Bill Snyder for sharing this. Much appreciated. Great story and good to see something like this in the mainstream press.
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