Kilian Jornet: “Mountaineering is a sport for white men” | Sports

Kilian Jornet, trail runner, during one of the races in Chamonix, in the Rhône-Alpes region at the foot of Mont Blanc (France).
Kilian Jornet, trail runner, during one of the races in Chamonix, in the Rhône-Alpes region at the foot of Mont Blanc (France).

In a normal week, Kilian Jornet (Sabadell, 34) trains at 210 kilometers. If the Norwegian mountains still have snow, hike the low areas and access the white cover on skis. The most versatile genius the mountain has ever known is in top form after his victory, record included, Zegama Marathon and the Hardrock, 100 miles across Colorado. This boy who climbed a thousand meters of elevation gain at the age of three burned milestones as a skier, runner or light mountaineer, with two summits of Everest from base camp in one week.

Ask. His arrival in the sport was early. Will his retirement be too?

Answer. I just don’t understand what it means to retire. I will keep running and go to the mountains. Slower, no doubt, but I’m not going to give up. When you go to the races, you see 85-year-olds still training every day. They are referents.

P. How far are you ready to take your body and mind?

R. I do not know. I look at what motivates me and move on. There are a lot of projects, what happens is that time and logistics don’t allow everything to be done and you have to choose.

P. He said in his first book that when an athlete becomes his own idol, the magic of sports ends. What magic does sport have for you today?

R. When I started competing, I attached a lot of importance to results. It’s the easiest to explain: win or lose. As you grow, you see the sensations, the progress, the experiences. That’s what’s important.

P. Has the best version of Kilian already passed?

R. What do you mean by best version? At times like 2013 he did around 50 races a year and won a lot. In recent years I have done a few with much better performance. What’s better? I don’t know, it depends on the point of view. If you look at it from a competitive, performance, personal, emotional point of view…

P. The new generations pursue what the previous ones did not achieve. What’s left to get yours?

R. A lot. In the Track I don’t think it will go faster, but there are more people: before there were two or three guys running very fast and now there are 15 or 20. There is still a very big difference in involvement between men and women. It’s a white man’s sport, it lacks inclusion and we need to work on that. In mountaineering, it’s a generation of many changes, of understanding what the elite is. In recent years, different models have been seen. We see it in the eight thousand, with heavy logistics. And it is a model that will remain, because we have seen it in the Alps or the Pyrenees: the summit values ​​more than the way of doing it. But in classical mountaineering, there are new generations like the Ukrainians of Annapurna III. You can bring the technical abilities of climbing in mixed corridors and take them to big walls. Classic mountaineering with better training so that they are faster and better climbers at a technical level.

P. The more steps you take, the more risk you have to take for the next one?

R. The risk depends on the capacities of each one, the conditions, the material. It is not the same to do the north of the Eiger today as it was 50 years ago. Now you can go there in the winter and the security is much higher than before, which had to be done in the summer. We take fewer risks today than in the 1980s, when all the Poles and Slovenians were there. What they did was brutal for the hardware and the forecast they had.

P. What risks are you willing to take?

R. I try to minimize them. Sometimes you overestimate your abilities, you panic and say, “A little more”. Risks we take in any action in our lives. It is the same as in the Track. If you wonder with 10 kilometers to go if you can keep up this pace and you say yes, you are going too slow. If you say no, it’s too late to quit. The right rhythm is in the maybe. In mountaineering, that doesn’t mean I might survive, but you have to be at the edge of your comfort zone. That the chances of survival are one hundred percent if something strange doesn’t happen.

P. Years ago, he said he felt dirty because of people’s admiration and that the approach of death had cleaned him up. What use is death to you?

R. Death is useless, no one seeks it. Everyone deals with situations of anxiety or depression in very different ways. And this connection with death is a very common thing. At times like these, it’s the shortcuts you seek, whether through alcoholism or other behaviors. It’s not good, but we do it.

P. Another sentence from him: “We hardly talk about the risk we take with the people who are dear to us.” Because?

R. Because nobody likes to be in that conversation, they’re hard to get. But they are necessary. Just like you talk to your partner about accepting a job or where you live, you will need to talk about it.

P. Did you wish you weren’t Kilian Jornet?

R. Yes, but not in recent years. I’m very introverted and I need a lot of quiet time to feel good. And there was a moment when I said to myself: “Going back to anonymity, that would be cool”. Now I am very well.

“The value of money abhors me

P. Why did you leave Salomon to create a new brand like NNormal?

R. The material theme is something I love and there were things that couldn’t be done. And the other is the role of my company on society and the environment, things that could be done better. Great challenge of our generation is climate change and of the world of sport, we must ask ourselves how to help. How to make events, movements or matter.

P. Someone who defines himself as antisocial, why does he want the money?

R. We are in a system of infinite growth, but we live on a planet with limited resources. And we see the consequences. You have to live, obviously, but it has many limits. Everything behind… Speculation and value for money is something I hate a lot. I’m not interested.

The clock doesn’t have to be the priority

P. Reinhold Messner said his interest in you would increase when he stopped timing your efforts. Will a clock day pass?

R. Messner was looking at him too. When the Eiger rose in ten hours, it was no coincidence that the city bells rang. It is true that the clock does not have to be the priority. It’s one more thing, but if you can do a course in three hours that you did in five, it tells you that you are doing better.

P. He wanted to walk through nature silently, without his presence being noticed. Its silhouette brought more people to the mountain: more noise. At some point, do you think you achieved the opposite of what you were looking for?

R. Yes, I did, but blaming myself for it would be too much. We are a mammal and we need to boost our metabolism. Getting out into nature is also about mental health and being part of it makes us respect it more. We need to raise awareness to find out what the carrying capacity of each ecosystem is. There are times of the year when one mountain can accommodate 1,000 people and in another only 100. It’s good that people are there for nature, but you have to know how to behave.

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