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Kílian's Top 7 Career Highlights

Selecting seven highlights from Kílian's sporting career is almost impossible. The dude has performed so many insane feats and super-human deeds that saying you've figured out what the top seven are is like saying you've calculated the seven best songs by The Smiths—you can't do it (three are on Meat Is Murder). The best you can do is single out the seven times Kílian Jornet Burgada made you question reality or wonder if he's a cyborg. Which he could be. There's a photo floating around the internet that appears to show electrical wires poking through a scuff mark on his knee. Google it. 

Here, then, are seven random-yet-mind-blowing highlights from Kílian's athletic life.

First Ski Race, Age 3

We don't want this to be some kind of origin story thing, but we need to acknowledge that after exiting his mother's womb at age zero, Kílian waited a whole 36 months before entering and completing a 12km cross-country ski race. For the mathematically impaired among you, 36 months is three years. He was THREE. What? COME ON! The 1990 Marxa Pirineu offered a family race category, which we're assuming was what Kílian did, but who knows, he might've done the whole thing by himself, lit a pipe, and then drove his Cleo home. It's also worth mentioning that by age five, he'd summited Aneto, the tallest mountain in the Pyrenees (11,168 ft).

First UTMB

In 2008, Kílian entered his first UTMB. He was 21. Prior to this, the longest race he'd run was a marathon, and this race, the North Face Ultra-Trail Du Mont-Blanc, was 166.4 kilometers with an elevation of 9448 M+. Roughly 16 km from the finish line, Kílian was pulled over by race officials and held up for more than an hour. He was so far ahead of the other, more seasoned competitors that they assumed he was cheating. Which, as it turned out, he was not. When they finally released Kílian, he continued the race, came first, and beat the second-place holder by an hour. The victory was so freakish that UTMB organizers waited a day before pronouncing him the winner. As of this writing, he's won UTMB four times. His fourth victory in 2022 saw him become the first person to do it in under 20 hours.

Climbed Mount Everest Twice in One Week

In 2017, Kílian made two back-to-back ascents of Everest as part of his 'Summits of My Life Project.' SOMLP, as it's not typically known, was a personal speed record project Kílian commenced in 2012 because he'd won everything and he needed something to do (there's more to it than that, but basically, he'd run out of challenges). Kílian set speed records on Kilimanjaro, Matterhorn, Denali, and others before rocketing up Everest twice without any supplemental oxygen because he could. In. Sane. We're talking about Everest here. It fucks people up. Climbing Everest just once is about as physically and psychologically taxing as it gets. K-Bone did it twice in a week and, as a bonus, set a new record for the fastest known alpine ascent of the world's highest peak.

His VO2 is Off The Charts

Quick science lesson for the kids who were goofing off up the back in high school: VO2 or VO2 max is your aerobic capacity. It's the rate at which your body can use Oxygen. The V is for Volume, and O2 is the chemical formula for Oxygen. Healthy men aged 30 to 39 should have a VO2 score of about 42—49. Guess what Kílian's VO2 score is. 1495. Just kidding. It's 92. But that's still more than what most people get. Is it the secret to his success? Partly. Let's just say it doesn't hurt to have that kind of oxygen uptake. Does this factoid qualify as a career highlight'? No, but come on, 92? That's crazy. He also has a second heart hidden behind his liver.

Won Hardrock Five Times

Dude has won Hardrock five times. Now, I know you know, but for the readers who don't, Hardrock is an ultramarathon in Southern Colorado's San Juan mountain ranges. It's 161.7 km (100.5 miles) long, with 33,000 feet of climb and an average elevation of well over 11,000 feet. The USA's Karl Meltzer has also won Hardrock five times, but Kílian ran it the fastest when, in 2022, he hit the ribbon at 21:36:24—nine minutes faster than the previous record held by Francois D'Haene. Kílian still holds that record, and P.S. He did it with a dislocated shoulder.

Beat the TRT Speed Record by 6 Hours

The Tahoe Rim Trail is a 265.5-kilometer (165-mile) trail loop around Lake Tahoe, and in 2005, ultrarunning legend Tim Twietmeyer set a new speed record when he ran it in 45 hours and 58 minutes. Flash forward to 2009, and Kílian decides to have a crack at TRT, and ya boy does it 38 hours and 32 minutes—six goddamn hours faster than Twietmeyer's already mind-boggling time. Kílian slept about two hours during the run and got lost for an hour (running an additional 8.5km), but he still smashed the record and held it until 2022, when Adam Kimble ran the famous loop in 37 hours and 12 minutes. But Kílian still has more FKTs than you have teeth, so, you know...

Everything Else

As I said, cobbling this list together is impossible, given the breadth of Kílian's achievements. I mean, besides winning UTMB four times and Hardrock five times, he's also won the Sierre-Zinal mountain race six times, the Zegama-Aizkorri skyrunning comp nine times, he's been named Skyrunning World Cup Champion seven times, he's the 2019 Golden Trail Series Champion, he was crowned 2014 World Champion in all three categories of the Skyrunning World Series (the vertical kilometer, the sky race, and ultrarunning), he's written a couple of best-selling books, he's a really nice guy, NASA named a planet after him, he won Oscar for Best Supporting Actor, he invented Cool Whip®, he knows karate... 

He's Kílian Jornet.