By Tim Sweeney - Photos by Jordi Saragossa
Well, that didn’t take long. If the trail running community was wondering about the health and fitness level of the man who is widely regarded as the best of them all, they only had to wait about three and a half hours to find out. At the second stop of the Golden Trail Series on Sunday, the Marathon du Mont Blanc in Chamonix, Salomon athlete Kilian Jornet answered emphatically that he is back from the broken leg he suffered this winter, winning the 42km race for the fifth time in 3 hours, 55 minutes and 54 seconds.
Jornet bested Salomon running teammates Marc Lauenstein (2nd in 3:58:15), Stian Angermund-Vik (3rd in 4:00:07), Thibaut Baronian (4th in 4:00:49) and Aritz Egea (5th in 4:02:28) for a Salomon sweep of the top-5 places.
“On the ascent to Posettes (22km) I could see it was going well,” Jornet said. “After that I knew there was a technical descent where I wasn’t going to lose time. I tried to set a good speed, aiming to go a little faster but controlling so as not to get cramps or heat stroke.”
Running with a concentrated stare for the majority of the race, Jornet left course spectators and media pundits wondering how he was feeling throughout the day and if he was fully recovered from the broken leg he suffered in a ski-mo race this winter. But, as is often the case with those who doubt Jornet, they were left with egg on their face in the end. The Catalan pulled away late in the race, around the 37km mark, after an entertaining battle among many of the world’s best.
In his first race back, Jornet used S/Lab Ultra shoes from Salomon and a full S/Lab Modular apparel kit.
“I used the S/Lab Ultra shoe with the trail running sole, but with a Vibe Technology midsole from the Salomon road running range because it offered a lot of cushion on this terrain,” Jornet said. “The apparel was the S/LAB Modular range because it is very light and breathable in this kind of hot weather. I can carry my gear in the S/LAB modular belt. I also had the Bonatti waterproof jacket because it’s mandatory to carry.”
“It was very hot and that made the race hard,” Jornet added. “It’s a matter of managing it well, to set out to control thing so as to reach the end which is where the race really begins in order to avoid muscular problems or an attack of heat stroke.”
He was not the only one feeling the heat.
“It was a fun fight and I’m very happy,” said Lauenstein, who simply keeps producing great results against the sport’s most elite fields. The Swiss dentist backed up his 4th place finish at Zegama with the runner-up spot in Chamonix behind Jornet. “I can’t say it was fun overall because it was hot and that played a role. But it was back and forth throughout the race and not until the end that I made the decision to go for second place.”
Angermund-Vik made a late charge on the final climbs, as he often does, to move from fifth into third.
“I was struggling in the heat and I had a bottle of water over my head and a Coca-Cola at the last aid station and that really woke me up and I had a boost of energy,” the Norwegian said.
In the women’s race, Team Scott’s Liz Croft ran an impressive, consistent race to win in 4:37:30 over Salomon athletes Ida Nilsson and (4:39:37) and Eli Gordon (4:41:01). For Croft, it’s another great result in the Golden Trail Series after finishing third at Zegama in May. For Nilsson, the day didn’t go as planned but she was happy to have stuck it out.
“I felt kind of bad in the beginning,” Nilsson said. “The whole race I had to fight a lot, but it’s a long race so if you try your best the whole time you never know what can happen.”
The Golden Series now moves to Switzerland for the third leg at Sierre-Zinal on August 12 where Jornet is expected to step to the starting line again. The winner at Zegama, Switzerland’s Remi Bonnet, should also be there after missing the race in Chamonix due an injury suffered a week earlier. Expect another stacked field in the Swiss Alps.