Kilian Jornet has clocked up his fourth consecutive victory in the Hardrock 100. The ultra-distance race held in the San Juan mountains in Colorado is one of the most famous on the calendar and is also one of the Cerdanya athlete’s favourites.
Jornet completed the 160km (100-mile) race with an overall ascent of 20,132m in a time of 24h 32’, despite running more than three quarters of the race with a shoulder he dislocated at kilometre 21. He opted to continue with his arm in a sling and once again was victorious.
Jornet didn’t want to miss out on this classic American event and arrived in Colorado at the beginning of the week barely two weeks after the Mont Blanc Marathon in Chamonix where he showed he was in good shape after his double ascent of Everest.
The Hardrock 100 is held in the San Juan mountain range over a course that is both wild and technical with as many as 13 points at an altitude over 3,700m, crowned by the famous Handies Peak at 4,281m. In alternate years the race is held clockwise and anti-clockwise and Kilian Jornet has now won it twice in either direction. He started as favourite but after his double ascent of Everest wasn’t sure how he’d feel in a long-distance event such as the Hardrock.
This year the weather has been especially difficult and the runners have had to deal with hailstorms, heavy rain and an electric storm during the race, although this didn’t dampen the excitement. Jornet took the lead from the start, along with his teammate Iker Karrera.
The pair made rapid progress until they reached a downhill stretch at kilometre 21 where Jornet lost his footing and slid on the snow and into the rocks which is when he dislocated his shoulder. He put it back in place himself having suffered a similar injury in the past. “Clearly dislocating my shoulder affected my performance in the race and from that moment on I had to be more careful. On downhill stretches I couldn’t take too many risks and on the ascents I also couldn’t use the poles well. In spite of that, I kept calm and was able to carry on,” Jornet said.
So, without pushing himself but also without resting he reached kilometre 60. “The pain had been increasing gradually and when I reached the aid station at kilometre 60 it was hurting a lot and so I asked for a bandage. From then on I changed the bandage at each aid station until I reached the finish line. Aside from that, the race was very entertaining,” he said.
After following close behind Iker Karrera, Jornet continued alone until, in the middle of a huge storm, he reached the summit of the course, Handies Peak (4,281m). He took the lead at kilometre 90 at the Ouray aid station, running alongside the American Joe Grant.
However, Grant fell behind and Jornet was joined by Mike Foot and the two arrived together at Kroeger’s Canteen. They ran together up to kilometre 150 when, at the last feeding station, Jornet escaped and once again ran in victorious at Silverton.
He kissed the Hardrock, as tradition dictates, completing four wins in the American event. “I’m very happy to have won, especially because I really didn’t think I could finish today because my shoulder was hurting a lot but in the end I managed to carry on and cross the finish line. That aside, I felt good throughout the race, although it’s been without question really tough. I had to race hard against Mike and Joe but that’s what I like about these races,” Jornet said.
After winning in the United States, Kilian Jornet is getting ready to compete in the Sierre Zinal in Switzerland.
Picture: Philip Reiter / Salomon