Running literature is like my guilty pleasure, and at the top of that list is any running lit about ultra-marathoners. Ultras are any race that is longer than the standard marathon, which is 42.2k. Most ultras start at 50k, and many are 100 MILES. One. Hundred. Miles.
And to compound that, many are run in horrible weather conditions on purpose, such as the Badwater which is actually run in Death Valley. Or the famous Western States, which is run in the Sierra Nevada mountains at crazy elevations.
To give you an idea, the Western States website comes with this disclaimer, should you need to end your run short: “…we will make every reasonable effort to get you to the finish… particularly if you are in need of medical attention. In non-emergency situations, you may have to wait several hours before being evacuated….Our principal responsibility is to put on a Run, not to run a shuttle service for non-finishers; so please be patient.” Sounds peachy, right?
Kilian Jornet is that type of runner. He has the distinction of having run up and down Mount Kilimanjaro faster than any other human being. To be clear, that is the Mount Kilimanjaro – the one more reasonable and fit individuals take days to summit. Kilian, at some point in his life, looked at that mountain on a map and thought to himself “I should run that.”
Which is to say, Kilian Jornet and his peers are a inspiring set. They do things most could never imagine doing, but due to the nature of the running world, don’t get a lot of credit for it. We could bump into Tiger Woods on the street, not having played a round of golf in our lives, and know who he is. But Kilian Jornet? That’s a different story.
Alright, running fiends and friends: what should I read next? Leave it in the comments section so I can add it to the list!