by Kraig Becker
Spanish ultrarunner Kilian Jornet continues to rewrite the record books and redefine what the human body is capable of. Earlier this week the 25-year old endurance athlete set a new speed record for running up and down one of the most iconic peaks in all of Europe – the Matterhorn. But Jornet didn’t just set a new record, he crushed the old one that had stood for more than 18 years.
On Wednesday of this week Jornet launched his bid for the speed record in the Church Square of the Italian village of Cervinia, which served as both the starting and finishing line for his race against the clock. Traveling as quickly as possible, he hustled up the classic Arista Lion Route on his way to the 14,685-foot summit of Mount Cervino aka the Matterhorn as it is known in Germany. In terms of total distance, the course was only 10.86 miles round-trip, which isn’t particularly far for a man who routinely competes in races that are more than 100 miles in length. But the path wanders through some very rugged terrain and included more than 8100 feet of vertical gain, making it a difficult run even for anyone.
In the end, Kilian proved to be more than up to the challenge. The total time for his ascent and descent of the mountain was an astounding 2 hours, 52 minutes and 02 seconds. That’s more than 20 minutes faster than the previous record, which was 3 hours, 14 minutes and 44 seconds and was set by Bruno Brunod back in 1995.
The successful speed record on the Matterhorn was part of Kilian’s Summits of My Life project during which he has run and climbed a number of big mountains in Europe and elsewhere. Just last month for instance, the Spaniard set a new speed record on Mount Blanc, running from the French town of Chamonix to the 15,781-foot summit and back in just 4 hours, 57 minutes and 40 seconds. That was 13 minutes faster than the previous record set by Pierre-André Gobet back in 1990.
Next the ultrarunner will travel to Russia where he’ll attempt a speed record on Mt. Elbrus, the tallest peak in Europe at 18,520 feet. That mountain will present a host of different challenges as it is famous for its cold weather and more technical approach. No word yet on when he’ll make his attempt but it seems it will be coming soon.
Congratulations to Kilian on the new records on both Mont Blanc and the Matterhorn. Good luck in Russia!
[Photo Credit: Seb Montaz]