Third consecutive Hardrock and third victory, this time shared. After running together for almost 23 hours,Kilian Jornet and the local runner Jason Schlarb decided to cross the line together and be the first to kiss the cherished Hardrock in the American ultra-distance race. The event is among those that featured on the list that Kilian Jornet made when he was 16. In 2014, the Cerdanya athlete won in the San Juan mountains for the first time and set a new course record. This year he returned to enjoy and win, alongside Schlarb, the Hardrock in a time close to the record he set two years ago. Jornet and Schlarb kissed the rock with the engraved logo after racing for 22h58’28’’.
“In long-distance runs the most important thing is the journey, discovering and sharing moments and feelings with nature, with the volunteers and the other runners. After running together for nearly 23 hours, it makes no sense to win by one or five minutes.”
The race, which this year was run clockwise, began at 6am local time. There was good weather during most of the 160km (100 mile) race through the San Juan mountains on a course with an accumulated ascent of 20,132m. Ahead of them lay technical zones, a wild course and up to 13 peaks at an altitude of more than 3,700m, with Handies Peak (4,281m) the highest point.
The two-time winner of the UTMB, Xavier Thévenard, made a good start and led in the early stages but after kilometre 11 he was joined by Jornet and Schlarb, from Colorado, who was fourth in the UTMB in 2014, and the three ran together as far as kilometre 33. However, at Kroger (Km 51), Thévenard and Jornet began to pull away from Schlarb, building a seven-minute lead. Shortly afterwards, at km 69, just after Ouray, it was Emelie Forsberg who kept pace with Jornet over several kilometres.
The fans enjoyed watching the close race as they matched each other step for step through Engineer and Grouse Gulch, with Schlarb some way behind. Thévenard and Jornet, two of the world’s best ultra-distance runners, were making good time with the possibility of setting a new record. However, atSherman (Km, 114), Jason Schlarb once again caught up with them and and it was him who, with Jornet, took the lead in the closing stages, with both of them finishing 14 minutes ahead of the Frenchman.
“I felt good from the start. There was a high standard, really good runners. We broke away with a group and were together with Xavier and Jason until the halfway point. From there i took off with Xavi but Jason caught up with us and we spent the whole night running together,” said Jornet.
From that point it was Jornet and Schlarb who ran together, calm, helping each other and even sharing their food. Close to the finish line, having shared so much of the Hardrock together, they decided to cross the line side by side to share the victory in one of the year’s genuine ultra-distance competitions. After racing for 22h58’28’’, Jornet and Schlarb kissed the Hardrock together to seal their shared triumph.
Having once again competed on the Hardrock’s trails, Kilian Jornet, will now focus on his Summits of My Life project: the ascent of Everest.