“Conquering mountains is an ironic phrase. We are not conquering them. We can never pretend to be fighting nature because we are part of it.”
Never meet your heroes, they say.
Fortunately, this entire podcast is based on ignoring that advice. And today, that’s a good thing. First, Kílian Jornet — one of the most humble, accomplished and inspiring athletes in the world — rarely sits for long form press. Second, this hero lives up to the hype. And this conversation is everything I hoped it would be.
For the uninitiated, Kílian Jornet is inarguably the most prolific and dominant mountain runner of all time and amongst the world’s greatest athletes, period. Born and raised at 6,000 feet above sea level in the Spanish Pyrenees, at age 5 he climbed an 11,000 foot mountain — the highest mountain in the region. Now Jornet adores the mountains with the same ferocity with which he runs them. Racking up wins in most of the world’s premier ultramarathons, his many accomplishments include:
- 4x champion of Europe’s Skyrunner World Series;
- 3x champion of the grueling Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc;
- 2011 winner, Western States 100; and
- 4x consecutive winner, Hardrock 100; and
- 2017 winner at Hardrock 100 despite dislocating his shoulder at mile 14
In search of inspiration outside formal competition, Kílian embarked on a self-styled adventure project dubbed Summits of My Life — establishing the fastest known recorded times (“FKT”) to ascend and descend the world’s most challenging peaks, including the Matterhorn, Kilimanjaro, Mont Blanc, Denali and even the planet’s tallest summit. Not only did Kílian set the Mt. Everest FKT at 26 hours from base camp, he did it without supplemental oxygen or ropes. A mere six days later, he repeated the performance — an accomplishment that inspired Adventurer of the Year accolades from National Geographic.
Kílian’s feats of poetic athletic prowess are beautifully depicted in his gripping memoir Run Or Die*, the new documentary Path To Everest, and his latest book Summits of My Life* — all of which I urge you to check out.
Today he shares his remarkable story. This is a conversation about what drives one of the planet’s most uniquely gifted fleet of foot — a man devoted to redefining what is possible, continually pushing the limits of human ability, and never failing to astonish competitors with his near-superhuman fitness and ability.
So what lies behind the success? Kílian’s motivation isn’t what you might imagine. It has nothing to do with race results. And his happiness derives not from victory. Instead, it’s adventure that sparks Kílian’s joy. Immersion in nature. Living outside the comfort zone. And always, always exploring.
A truly amazing human, what strikes me most about this other-worldly athlete is his profound humility. Kiílian’s passion and respect for nature’s prowess is earned. Refreshingly grounded, he lives simply, an ethic and aesthetic reflected in the minimalistic purity of his athletic pursuits.
Today I’m glad I met a hero. I think you will be too.
Peace + Plants,
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Thanks to this week’s sponsors
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Note: One of the best ways to support the podcast is to support the sponsors. For a complete list of all RRP sponsors and their respective vanity url’s and discount codes, visit my Resources page and click “Sponsors”.
Kílian’s latest film: Path To Everest and latest book: Summits of My Life: Daring Adventures on the World’s Greatest Peaks* are both available now!
Background, Context & Reference:
- Connect With Kílian: Website | Instagram | Twitter | Facebook | YouTube
- Summits Of My Life: Website| Trailer | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube
- Book: Summits of My Life: Daring Adventures on the World’s Greatest Peaks* by Kílian Jornet
- Book: Run Or Die* by Kílian Jornet
- Suunto: Kílian Jornet | Trail Runner and Ski Mountaineer
- Strava: Follow Kílian Jornet on Strava
- GoPro: Kílian Jornet Shares His ‘Path To Everest’
- Red Bull: Meet the man who just smashed an iconic 101km UK running challenge
- National Geographic: This Mountain Runner Scaled Everest Twice in Under a Week
- National Geographic: Kílian Jornet on Going Up and Down Denali in Less Than 12 Hrs.
- New York Times Magazine: Becoming the All-Terrain Human
- BBC Sports: The 6 Most Extreme Athletes You’ll Ever Meet!
- Mercedes-Benz: Kílian Jornet: the wisdom of the mountains
- Runner’s World: Here’s Why Kilian Jornet Wanted to Scale Mount Everest Twice in One Week
- Trail Runner: Getting the Dirt from Kílian Jornet
- Running Magazine: Kílian Jornet and Emilie Forsberg expecting a baby in winter 2019
- Outside Magazine: FKT Up? Kilian Jornet’s Insane New Sport
- UK Climbing: Kilian Jornet Breaks Bob Graham Record
- The Ridge: Kílian Jornet. Mountain poetry
- Gear Junkie: Ultrarunner Kílian Jornet Wins First Race After Broken Leg
- iNews UK: Eliud Kipchoge, Kílian Jornet and Camille Herron: Three standout sporting moments of 2018 you may have missed
- ISPO: Kílian Jornet on Trail Running: “What Interests Me Is the Versatility”
- UltraSignUp: Kílian Jornet Race Results
- FKT | Fastest Known Times: Athlete Kílian Jornet
Notable People Discussed in today’s podcast:
- Emelie Forsberg: Kílian’s partner; Swedish athlete specialized in Trail running and Ski mountaineering. She has won repeated victories in different disciplines, including European and World Championships
- Alex Honnold: professional free solo rock climber (Free Solo the Movie) & podcast guest
- Usain Bolt: retired Jamaican sprinter and world record holder in the 100 metres, 200 metres and 4 × 100 metres relay
- Eliud Kipchoge: Kenyan long distance runner, and the 2016 Olympic marathon gold medallist. He has been described as “the greatest marathoner of the modern era” and recently broke the World Record for Fastest Marathon
Related Podcasts You Might Enjoy:
- RRP #351: Alex Honnold: The Free Soul Of Free Solo Climbing On Fear, Risk, Mindset & What It Means To Be Truly Alive
- RRP #207: Colin O’Brady’s Attempt On The Explorers Grand Slam World Record
- RRP #235: Colin O’Brady Shatters The Explorers Grand Slam World Record
- RRP #364: Hilaree Nelson On The Virtues Of Living An Adventurous Life
- RRP #170: Conrad Anker On Suffering, Risk, Reward & The Allure Of Meru
- RRP #307: Big Mountain Skier Lynsey Dyer On Sport As Art
*Disclosure: Books and products denoted with an asterisk are hyperlinked to an affiliate program. We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.
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