Jornet will tackle the challenge on a track in Norway

Jornet will tackle the challenge on a track in Norway

Record-breaking mountain runner Kílian Jornet is planning a new challenge outside his comfort zone: running on the flat.

The Catalan athlete, who in 2018 posted a new record for the Bob Graham Round in the Lake District, will attempt to break the record for the longest track run in 24 hours.

Weather permitting, Jornet will begin his attempt on Friday morning at the 400m athletics track in Måndalen, Norway. He aims to beat the record of 303.506km (188.59 miles), set in 1997 by Yiannis Kouros.

Jornet has claimed the fastest time for the ascent of Everest, as well as Mont Blanc, the Matterhorn and Denali. He is a past winner of the Ultra-Trail du Mont Blanc race.

But running on a flat track will present new problems to the 33-year-old.

He said: “Mountain athletes have a big motor, so it’s easy in terms of cardio and endurance.

“It’s mostly working on the speed because my legs aren’t used to moving this fast. To prepare, I’ve been doing three days of speed work each week at the track or on roads. But the form you run with on the flat is very different from how you run in the mountains, where you run higher because you pass over obstacles and put your feet in different places as the terrain changes.”

Jornet has been concentrating on minimising any injuries likely to occur with the repetitive motion of flat-ground running. He was forced to delay his 24-hour attempt in recent weeks due to some nagging muscle injuries that cropped up before his first 10km road race, the Hytteplanmila race in Norway, which he finished in 29mins 59secs in mid-October.

“I think the biggest challenge is to be able to train consistently and not have injuries because the transition to flat ground is very hard for the muscles,” Jornet said.

“The training has been a bit frustrating the last few months going from injury to injury to injury. I have had good blocks of training and then I would have an injury and have to rest. After the 10km race, I had to stop training and rest an injury. Now, the plan is to do one good week of training and see how my body feels, then rest the muscle tissues and recover for the attempt.”

In his challenge Jornet will use Salomon’s new S/LAB Phantasm, a super lightweight road-racing shoe that will be released in the spring of 2021. He has been using the shoe for several months during his track and road running training sessions.

“I tested the prototypes of the S/LAB Phantasm a year ago and now I’m using the same shoe that will be available in spring to the public,” he said. “It’s great for road running. It’s a light, very reactive and well balanced shoe with good cushioning, which is important when you are doing longer training on hard surfaces. And the grip is really good, even in wet conditions.”

During the attempt, the Norway-based runner will switch directions every four hours on the track he now knows well. Temperatures are likely to get as low 0C at night and range from 8-15C during the day.

To make the race official, several accomplished Norwegian ultrarunners will also compete. Jornet has had his eyes on this 24-hour running challenge for some months but won’t make predictions or set expectations about how far he can run.

He said: “I’ve seen Yiannis’s splits so I want to keep up with that as long as I can. I know the speed I need to keep every hour, so then I know the pace for every kilometre and every lap. Of course, the first 10 hours will be a bit faster and then slowing every hour after, so I have a plan and I know what I want to run every hour.

“The big thing is to not have any muscle problems and be able to eat without having big down periods.”

He will begin his challenge at 10.30am CET (11.30am GMT). His run will be live-streamed on the Salomon website.

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