The streets of Chamonix were packed with crowds.
He shuttled alone among the cheering crowd, and the audience applauded and cheered wherever he went, and the buildings on both sides of the street quickly passed behind him, even though he had already run 170 kilometers continuously. He kept waving to the spectators on both sides of the street who were reaching out to give him high fives, not to thank them for their cheers, but to tell them “don’t touch me, I have the new crown virus.” Two days before the game, he had just been arrested. He was diagnosed positive for the new crown, but fortunately he had no symptoms. After discussing with the medical team, he decided to continue the competition. Turning the last corner, in the camera, he was alone in the center of the screen framed by the arch symbolizing the finish line of UTMB, ran the last 100 meters lightly, slowed down before the finish line, crossed the line, turned around and waved to the audience regards.
19 hours, 49 minutes and 30 seconds.
This result is enough to explain everything, 171 kilometers, 10,000 meters cumulative climb, he is the winner of four UTMB championships, and he is the strongest cross-country runner on the surface. His name is Kilian Jornet Burgada, and some people call him “Alien”, but everyone is more used to calling him “King K”.
HE DOESNIT KNOW TIREDNESS
Kilian Jornet was born in Sabadell, Spain in 1987. If you search for “Savadel” on Baidu or Google, nine out of ten you will find a football team in the Spanish second division, or a bank. It is in the northeast of Spain, directly above Barcelona. Overall, the city of Sabadell is flat, but just to the northeast, the Pyrenees Mountains divide the border between France and Spain.
Therefore, Kilian grew up in a mountain environment. Kilian’s mother Nuria would take him and his sister on long-distance hikes in the forest. Once, they hiked for more than 7 hours. Little Kilian carried his small backpack up and down the mountain with his mother, but he never complained. At this time, he was only 1 and a half years old.
Kilian’s initial wish for the mountains was skiing, not the kind of handsome skiing that flies in the air, but cross-country skiing, the kind of sport that uses the strength of one’s own body to propel one’s own body to slide forward , you can see this ancient skiing technique in Nordic combined or biathlon competitions. Twelve or thirteen-year-old Kilian was too young to join the training center. According to the rules, he couldn’t join the ski team, but the fire in his eyes, the clear sharp light, made the coaches decide to break the rules. Kilian was admitted exceptionally. In 2000, Kilia participated in the Spanish Cup Molina Ski Tour; in 2003, he became a junior member of the Spanish national mountaineering and skiing team; from 2004 to 2006, he won the Catalan Sports Medal for three consecutive years.
But moving to cross-country running allowed Kilian to discover a bigger world. At the age of 18, Kilian stopped training with a coach. He became his own coach and made a training plan for himself. There were several weeks of rest every year, and the duration of endurance training reached an astonishing 1140 hours. And sleep 7 hours a day, there are reports that Kilian’s heart rate can be reduced to 33 beats per minute while sleeping, but the authenticity cannot be verified. Under such self-discipline, Kilian won almost all international cross-country running championships that can be named before the age of 25.
UTMB Triple Crown TRIPLE CHAMPION
Kilian first appeared in public view at UTMB. At that time, no one noticed that there was such a 21-year-old young man with a height of just over 170 centimeters on the field. He had not run more than 40 kilometers, and he had not even had a stable income. However, at 65 kilometers, people began to notice him. Kilian started to take the lead over the others, and the lead became more and more obvious. In the last 15 kilometers, although the UTMB organizing committee imposed a time penalty on Kilian on the grounds of “insufficient mandatory equipment”, he still won the UTMB championship with a speed of more than one hour ahead of the runner-up.
And the next two times, he is the champion.
With the rapid development of trail running in the world, Kilian’s status in trail running has risen rapidly. Western 100, Hard Rock 100, Sky Run…Killian has won almost all the top trail running competitions you can count today. According to incomplete statistics, as of April 2020, Kilian Jornet has won 63 championships in international arenas, including 3 UTMB, 7 Sierre-Zinal, 6 Zegama, 4 Hard Rock 100…too many lift. The number of championships of Jim Walmsley, who is behind him, is only 26 times. Although the number is amazing, he still pales in comparison to King K.
In Kilian’s resume, the most talked about is probably his match of the century with the owner Francois D’Haene at UTMB in 2017.
At the beginning, Kilian and Francois were in the first group. When the race reached 100 kilometers, the owner was in the lead, and Kilian, who was in the second position, kept clinging to the gap of more than ten minutes. The gap of more than ten minutes means that the counter-kill may happen at any time, often only between one rhythm adjustment, and the audience is also looking forward to seeing Kilian complete the over-take. But unfortunately, this dramatic scene was not staged until the end of the game. In the end, Francois took the lead to cross the line with a time of 19:01 and won the championship of the UTMB group that year, while Kilian was only 16 minutes behind and came second.
THE MOUNTAINS LET THEM MEET
”He runs because it puts him in the mountains,” Kilian’s mother said.
If Shan hadn’t personally sent Emelie and Kilian to each other, maybe both of them would have married Shan in the end? 2012 is the first year of Emelie’s cross-country running competition. It was also in this year that she saw Kilian’s speed for the first time in the Zegama Marathon. But this is not the first time she has met Kilian. In fact, Emelie had met Kilian when Salomon’s team was training in Greece. But Kilian’s true strength is only when he’s playing. There is no doubt that Kilian won the competition. Emelie was not inferior at all, she won the third place in the women’s group, and the spotlight also shone on her. Since then, the two began to communicate. They started dating, but it wasn’t the usual movie, coffee and dinner date.
Similar to Kilian’s experience, Emelie is also a good cross-country skier, and she is more involved than Kilian. She loves climbing, hiking, and everything related to mountains. If it wasn’t for Kilian, she might really have married Gunsan. So their date was logically moved to the outdoors. When other couples were squeezing their scalps to reserve seats on the webpages of high-end restaurants, they put on their equipment and stepped into the mountains to enjoy the freedom and happiness of being in the mountains.
However, their communication process is difficult to find clues in this era of advanced Internet. They are very low-key and rarely mention the word “love” in public. Although Emelie occasionally posts photos with Killian on her Facebook, she rarely reveals their relationship in words. Of course, that doesn’t mean they don’t really love each other. In the 2017 Sky Run in Scotland, the couple crossed the line hand in hand, making others envious. In 2019, the husband and wife posted the crystallization of their love on social networks. Emelie gave birth to a daughter, but the two kept a low profile and did not disclose their daughter’s name, birth time and place.
At this time, Kilian is no longer just a runner. He has become a husband and a father. As his identity gradually increases, the number of times Kilian shows up at UTMB has also decreased. But his reputation as “the strongest on the surface” is getting louder and louder. This is probably because although he is known as the king of cross-country running, some of his achievements can’t help but make people sigh: “Is this called cross-country running?”
Survivor Guilt SURVIVOR GUILT
Kilian is not so much a trail runner as he is a mountain athlete. Kilian doesn’t run for the sake of running, he runs because he fits into the mountains that way. Compared with running on mountain trails, he prefers to run on roads without roads, brushing across the mountains in the way of running, which is his favorite way.
So when Kilian was very young, he had a list of all the mountains he wanted to complete, including the famous “White Mountain”-Mont Blanc. This list is called “Summit of My Life” – the peak of life. Kilian once said on his Instagram that there were two photos in his training log when he was a child, one is the former Olympic champion Kenensia Bekele, and the other is Stephane Brosse. Stephane Brosse, 15 years older than Kilian, is one of the top cross-country skiers in the world. During his 18 years of skiing, Brosse has won the skiing world championship three times. Not only that, but he is also a capable climber. He once climbed Mont Blanc in only 5 hours and 15 minutes. Naturally, he is Kilian’s idol and a friend for many years.
In 2012, Killian officially began to challenge the Summit of My Life program. The first goal was to cross Mont Blanc, and as Killian’s friend for many years, Brosse, who grew up in France, naturally became Killian’s partner on this trip. In fact, Kilian also hopes to partner with Brosse to complete all the planned mountains.
Mountains are romantic and magnificent, but also realistic and cruel. On June 17, 2012, a number of media reported a news that the famous skier Stephane Brosse suffered a slipping accident on Aiguille Argentiere (Silver Needle Peak—translated by the author) and unfortunately died. When the accident happened, Kilian and Brosse were on a ridge near the summit of the Silver Needle, using their skis to reach the Saleina glacier as quickly as possible. The snow eaves collapsed and brought Brosse down into the abyss in an instant. Brosse fell about 600 meters. Kilian witnessed the whole process of the death of his best friend, but he was powerless.
Surviving creates a sense of guilt, and that guilt is a great burden.
Why wasn’t he the one who died? Mont Blanc is just the first step, they still have so many mountains to complete. In the months following the accident, Kilian was haunted by the loss of his dearest friend. But this heavy blow also made Kilian make a decision, he will go on alone to complete the plan. With the dream he shared with Brosse, Kilian continued his plan alone. At the end of 2014, he completed three 8,000-meter-level peaks within 20 days, and the completion of the plan was imminent. According to Kili’s old plan, in 2015, he will complete the last item on the list – Mount Everest, and draw a perfect end to this project.
Maximum oxygen uptake 90ML/KG/MIN
At 8,000 meters above sea level, oxygen is key to survival. Whether your body can take in enough oxygen from the thin air with only 1/3 of the pressure at sea level determines how much strength your body can exert and how long you can survive.
A key indicator to measure an athlete’s aerobic capacity is the maximum oxygen uptake (VO2 Max), simply put, it is the maximum amount of oxygen that the body can take in. There is a question on Zhihu called: “What is the concept of King K’s maximum oxygen uptake of 90?”
What concept? The maximum oxygen uptake of a normal adult male is around 45. The Tour de France is a famous extreme endurance sport. Players have to ride hundreds of kilometers every day for 21 consecutive days. The cyclists who can enter the Tour de France are the top road cyclists in the world, and a qualified For Tour de France riders, the maximum oxygen uptake is only between 60 and 70. Of course, there are some outstanding ones among them. For example, the maximum oxygen uptake of the big cousin Froome can reach 87, but this is just an example after all.
If you are not convinced, a simple test method can help you estimate your maximum oxygen uptake: run at full strength for 12 minutes, and you can get your maximum oxygen uptake by using the distance you run X22.35-11.29. If it is an adult male who often participates in sports, he can run about 3,000 meters in 12 minutes, which is considered to be quite good in physical fitness. If the standard value of 45 is reversed, the result is about 2500 meters, and if the result of King K is reversed, the result is 4531 meters, with an average of 1 km, 2 minutes and 39 seconds.
Although the maximum oxygen uptake depends largely on talent, such a terrifying maximum oxygen uptake is also inseparable from years of hard training. Kilian’s training can be said to be different from ordinary people, and his training methods are completely different from ordinary runners. In response to his mother’s words: “He runs because it allows him to be in the mountains.” Kilian never simply practiced running. He would carry 3.5 kilograms of equipment on his back in the early morning, from the nearest ridge to the mountain. The top of the mountain, and then up and down along the ridge. It sounds easy, but the routes Kilian chooses are often steep and frightening. In many cases, he uses both hands and feet to climb up in the way of rock climbing, and then downhill after reaching the top of the mountain. Then run all the way along the knife-edged ridge.
Kilian often doesn’t stop to rest until he runs for more than 20 hours. At this time, he has almost completed about 100 kilometers. At this time, he will take a nap, then replenish some energy and water, and continue on the road. Kilian’s long-distance training usually takes more than 1 day to complete, and he almost only trains on the top of the mountain, until his legs protest wildly, he will stop and go home to rest. In fact, it is difficult to tell whether Kilian is a climber or a trail runner. He likes to run in the mountains, but he is different from ordinary runners. He also likes to climb, but he is not too obsessed with those technical climbing activities. He swept over one mountain after another at the speed of the wind over and over again, blurring the boundaries between trail running and mountaineering, maybe that’s why everyone calls him King K.
SUMMIT OF MY LIFE
In 2015, when the time for completing the plan was approaching, Nepal was hit by an 8.1-magnitude earthquake, and the Everest climbing season was reimbursed ahead of schedule. Kilian had to postpone his plan to climb Mount Everest, and he was still doing some things when the plan could not be completed. He participated in the filming of the film “Langtang”, which raised 60,000 euros to help rebuild the disaster-stricken areas in Nepal.
In 2017, Kilian announced to challenge Mount Everest again. However, his plan changed from the commercially developed south slope route to the north slope traditional route in Tibet, China.
Also, does not carry oxygen.
The feat of speed climbing Mount Everest has not been accomplished by anyone. In 2006, Austrian Christian Stangl set off from the forward camp at an altitude of 6,500 meters and climbed Mount Everest in 16:42, creating the FKT of speed climbing Mount Everest. Although Stangl was later controversial in the international mountaineering circle for falsely claiming that he had summited K2, this record was still widely accepted. And Kilian’s goal is to climb without oxygen and try to break this record.
On May 22, 2017, Kilian set off from the Everest Base Camp at an altitude of 5,100 meters without ropes, oxygen, satellite phones, or walkie-talkies. In order to keep the weight as light as possible, Kilian almost saved all the equipment that can be saved. When arriving at the advanced camp at an altitude of 6,500 meters, the watch showed that it took four and a half hours. Afterwards, Kilian continued to rush to the summit, and soon reached a height of more than 7,000 meters. Just when Kilian thought everything was going to go well, his stomach suddenly started messing. It was a little painful at the beginning, and then it was very painful, but Kilian had to slow down his speed because he was determined to win the summit.
Under the dual obstacles of lack of oxygen and stomach pain, Kilian’s mood became worse. He disliked himself for being slow, but he had to stop and rest every time he walked, which was approaching his limit. “Every time I take 12 steps, I close my eyes and want to sleep.” His brain fell into an extremely contradictory state. He wanted to continue to attack the summit, but also wanted to retreat now.
26 hours after setting off from base camp, Kilian stood on the summit of Mount Everest, with nowhere higher to go. After 15 minutes, Kilian began to descend from the summit. From ABC to the summit, Kilian spent 21 hours. The story of Summit of My Life should have come to a successful conclusion here. But Kilian felt uncomfortable no matter how he thought about it, 21 hours was too far from his goal. So Kilian made a temporary decision. He did not retreat to the base camp that day, but arrived at the advanced camp at 6,500 meters. He’s going to speed climb Mount Everest again, right now.
Six days later, on May 27, Kilian set out again, and his body was still far from 100 percent. But 80% of the state is enough. In the low temperature and strong wind, nothing could stop his footsteps except temperature loss and slipping. If Kilian’s eyes could see Stangl 11 years ago, he would have seen Stangl staggering to the top before his eyes. In the middle of the night on the 27th, Kilian reached the summit, only 18 minutes behind Stangl’s record. But Kilian is satisfied with this result. But he may not have thought that he would be questioned by the outside world like Stangl. Someone even wrote an article questioning whether Kilian had summited Everest, due to a faulty watch and the completely unrecognizable terrain in the images of the late-night summit. Most importantly, there is no record about his summit of Mount Everest in the HimalayaDatabase.
But he himself didn’t care too much. “I don’t need to waste time with people who hate me.” The sponsor made Kilian’s video material into a documentary, and the altitude he was in was clearly written in the lens, 8849. A few months later, HimalayaDatabase also updated the data of King K. On May 22, climb to the top; on May 27, climb to the top.
However, as a cross-country runner signed by a brand, King K still has to perform on the field after all. Although sitting on the UTMB triple crown, the last time he won the championship was 11 years ago in 2011. In the past 11 years, the owner has come from behind and has already won 4 UTMB championships. In 2017, he narrowly lost to the owner, and in 2018, he unexpectedly retired. In August 2022, the familiar figure of King K finally reappeared on the UTMB track, but unlike before, it is the husband, the father, and the global spokesperson of the brand who are running on the track now. He has a lot on his shoulders, and his past experience has made him mature a lot.
And in this year’s event, there is a powerful competitor, American Jim Walmsley. Although his record in UTMB is not dazzling, he still has a brilliant cross-country running career. This year, Walmsley specially reduced the frequency of participation for UTMB, and trained in the Alps throughout the summer to adapt to the style of the UTMB track.
This time, King K no longer ran forward on his own. Since the firing of the gun, he has been biting the first group and followed silently. 10 kilometers, 20 kilometers, 30 kilometers… He seems to be deliberately running behind others to save energy. After 40 kilometers, the leader Walmsley began to speed up the pace, the first group was divided, King K followed the leader Walmsley, and the other two gradually fell behind. King K had no intention of overtaking, but followed closely all the way.
Walmsley’s fighting spirit for UTMB is very high, leading all the way in the first position, but just like the rules of all long-distance races, the leading players often fail to win the championship in the end, King K seems to understand this. At the 70th, 80th, and 90th kilometers of the race, he still only clings to Walmsley. The latter tried to throw away King K, but the two always maintained a gap of tens of seconds and fought together. It wasn’t until the race was close to 100 kilometers that Walmsley really opened up some gaps with King K. He entered the check-in point ahead of King K by two and a half minutes, and then the gap gradually increased, reaching 12 minutes at one point. At this time, it seems that King K has lost competitiveness. However, when the race reached 142 kilometers, the situation suddenly changed. Walmsley suddenly suffered from a right leg injury, and his speed slowed down quickly. At the previous check-in point, he rested for a full 8 minutes. In order to narrow the gap, King K , just rest for 3 minutes and 17 seconds.
Soon, the two were in the same frame again in the picture, King K surpassed, and has since then been the best. The people behind Ren chased desperately, but no one surpassed him. He ran across hills, rivers, bridges, crowds, 171 kilometers and 11 years of running.
He crossed the finish line 19 hours, 49 minutes and 30 seconds after the shot was fired.
Except that the 2017 UTMB organizing committee temporarily changed the track due to weather reasons, in the history of the UTMB group, in the history of this track, no one has ever completed a distance of 171 kilometers in 20 hours. While winning the fourth championship, he also made history. He is the undisputed strongest player on the surface. However, Kilian has his own ideas about the nickname King K.
”Don’t call me King K, I’m just a person who loves mountains.”