Run or Die
Kilian Jornet is a world champion ultrarunner and ski mountaineer. He has run up and down Mt. Kilimanjaro faster than anyone else. The 26 year-old Spaniard is a three-time champion of the Skyrunner World Series from 2007–09 and the winner of the 2011 Western States Endurance Run. A few years back, Killian Jornet ran the 165-mile Tahoe Rim Trail and stopped just twice to sleep on the ground for a total of about 90 minutes, setting a record time of 38 hours and 32 minutes. He is a monster endurance athlete.
Most of us cannot imagine what it’s like to run for days at a time, covering distances that are commonly associated with planes and tour buses. Jornet’s words convey the emotions, the misery, and the glory that come with pushing yourself to the very brink.
His story begins like so many other ultrarunners, with a supreme love and respect for the natural world. Killian Jornet grew up at 6,500 feet above sea level, on the northern slopes of Cerdanya, along the mountain frontiers with France and Andorra. He learned to navigate the woods at night without a headlamp by walking with his mother and sister in his pajamas before bedtime. The mountains and the natural world provided his entertainment and he developed a respect and a love for them from an early age.
By age 3, he had already climbed Tossa Plana, Perafita, and La Muga. By age 6, he had completed four Aneto summits. And, at age 10 he crossed the Pyrenees in 42 days. As a teenager, Jornet was a cross-country ski champion. Soon after, he blended his passion for the outdoors with his talent for endurance athletics and rose to the top of the ultrarunning world.
In RUN or DIE, Killian Jornet takes you with him on some of his most epic races. You’ll traverse the length of the Tahoe Rim Trail, a 165-mile long-distance hiking trail which forms a loop around Lake Tahoe in the Sierra Nevada and Carson ranges of California and Nevada. You’ll cross the Pyrenees, running 500 miles from the chilly Atlantic Ocean to the warm Mediterranean Sea. You’ll compete the Ultra-Trail du Mont Blanc, the world’s most competitive ultrarunning event outside the United States.
Jornet will also take you on a run up and down the tallest mountain in Africa, 19,341′ Mount Kilimanjaro, in less than 8 hours. And, you’ll run a hundred dusty miles in the Western States 100 alongside American ultrarunning legends Anton Krupicka and Geoff Roes. Along the way you’ll marvel at the audacity of Jornet and others like him.
Killian Jornet has a gift for accurately describing the natural environment, the physical experience of running for days, and the resulting emotional fatigue. I haven’t run beyond marathon distance, but I feel like I am so much closer after reading this book. Jornet is a gifted storyteller. He can describe and relate the seemingly indescribable.