After two months of online voting, during which more than 75,000 votes were cast, ultrarunner Kilian Jornet has been named the National Geographic People’s Choice Adventurer of the Year. The Spanish endurance athlete edged out a field of 12 other candidates, that included long-distance swimmer Diana Nyad and climber Adam Ondra.
Jornet is amongst the top ultra-distance runners on the planet, routinely competing in events that exceed 50, or even 100, miles in length. But it was his astounding feats of athleticism in the Alps that earned him the Adventurer of the Year moniker. In 2013, he zipped up and down Mont Blanc, the tallest mountain in Western Europe, in just under 5 hours. He followed that up with a record setting run up and down the 14,692-foot Matterhorn. That impressive run took just 2 hours, 52 minutes to complete, besting the previous record by 22 minutes. To put that in perspective, a round-trip journey to the summit and back typically takes climbers about 12 hours to finish.
Those mountain runs are part of Kilian’s Summits of My Life project, but they are just the beginning of what he has planned. This year he hopes to bring his unusual brand of mountaineering to Denali and Aconcagua, the tallest mountains in North and South America respectively. In 2015 he hopes to take on Mt. Everest, the highest mountain on the planet.
Jornet is also credited with bringing “sky running” to the attention of the general public. The sport is a combination of mountaineering and trail running, with an emphasis on going as fast as possible, even at altitude. While most of will never be able to cover the distances that he can – in the time that he does – we can’t help but marvel at what Kilian, and other runners like him, can accomplish.
It isn’t always as easy as Jornet sometimes makes it seem. In September of last year, he and his training partner had to be rescued from Aiguille de Midi, a mountain in France. They were caught off guard, running with minimal amounts of gear, when the wether took a turn for the worse. With temperatures plummeting and snow starting to fall, they were forced to call for assistance. Fortunately, mountain rescue was able to get to them in time, and pull them off the mountain safely. The ultrarunner who likes to travel ultra-light, was reminded of the importance of having the right gear with him at all times.
Congratulations to Kilian on earning the honor of being the 2014 National Geographic People’s Choice Adventurer of the Year.