“Hi-Tech” In Ultra Running

Just like in any sport, technology is coming into play as an edge over your opponent or competitor. In endurance sports like long distance running/ultra marathon runs, technology plays on the runner’s kit (shoes and apparel), nutrition, and hydration. This is in addition with the technology devoted on the running form and body/physical structure of the runner; and other training-related “ways and means” in order to win in a certain race.

In the newly-concluded Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run, interest had been focused on the training/preparation and the equipment/kit & nutrition that the Champion, Kilian Jornet, had used during the race. On the training/preparation, we all know that Kilian Jornet had been all around Europe and the world, so to speak, since his 3rd finish in last year’s Western States 100 to compete in ultra trail races and documenting his “Kilian Quest” as sponsored by Salomon. Last May, 5 weeks before the WS 100, he won and registered a course record for the TNF 100K in Australia.

Kilian's Shorts & Shirt (A close-up with my picture with him reveals its Gel pockets) Source: Competitor.com

In his attire during this year’s WS 100, we was wearing a loose “muscle shirt-type” upper attire which is colored white and combined with a loose trail shorts which has an inseam of about 3-4 inches. But if you noticed closely the upper white portion of his shorts, you could see a belt-type pocket all-around his waist where you can see GU Gels in it. It appears that the belt/waist portion of the shorts is lined-up with secret pockets where the runner can store/carry gels or powdered electrolytes. Wearing loose apparel was a way to solve the the hot temperature on the canyons along the route of the race.

I did not see Kilian using a hydration bottle when he reached the Placer Oval Track. He was not holding anything during his last 300 meters to the finish line. However, in his pre-interviews, he stated that Salomon had made a special hand glove water bottles for him which he can hold while running. Kilian was a victim of lack of hydration and electrolytes on the last quarter part of last year’s WS 100 as he experience muscle cramps. As you can see in his first attempt in the WS 100, he was not holding or wearing a hydration system during the race.

In an article at Competitor.com, the hand glove bottles were featured as shown below:

Hand Gloves With Water Bottles & Food Bars (Source: Competitor.com)

As for the running shoes, he used the lightest Salomon Trail Shoes which is considered as a prototype to be tested in the said race.

Salomon Trail Shoes (Source: Competitor.com)

And he was running without any socks!!!

Looking at the physical structure of Kilian, he was very light in weight. His height could be 5 feet and 6 inches with a weight of about 130-135 pounds. Using the lightest apparel and equipment and proper nutrition and hydration, could result to a well-trained and prepared athlete for the Championship in this race.

Of course, he has the Salomon Team on his “back and sides” to fully support and finance him just to be able to win the most prestigious 100-Mile Trail Run in Northern America.

This is an example and mark of what we call, “Sports Excellence”.

If you are wondering at what age he started to be trained and his exploits in the past, you can read his story and other related topics about him at www.kilianjornet.cat.

On the latest interview of Kilian Jornet after his win in the WS 100, you can read about his insights here at Running Times.

BR & Kilian Jornet @ WS 100

There were three reasons why I went to the US. First, to join/participate in the 2011 Miwok 100K Ultra Trail Run in Marin Headlands where I ended as one of the Volunteers. Second, to make a recon on the route and watch the top finishers of the prestigious 2011 Western States 100-Mile Endurance Race. And, third, to have a rest and vacation from running. It is a blessing in disguise that I was injured last March during my adventure from from “West to East”.

Looking Like A Lost Tourist At Foresthill

Last weekend, I drove from Los Angeles to Foresthill, California and later to Auburn’s Placer High School Oval Track where the finish line of the Western States 100-Mile Race is located. The distance I’ve traveled was about 450 miles which took me for about 10 hours to include my pit stops along the way. After not being able to locate the exact location of the Foresthill High School where one of the Aid Stations was located, I opted to finally wait at the Finish Line.

While Waiting At The Finish Line

After one hour of waiting, the 1st runner arrived and it was Spain’s Kilian Jornet in 15:34:23 hours. He was followed by Mike Wolfe after 4-5 minutes and then Nick Clark, Jez Bragg, and Tsuyoshi Kaburaki of Japan. I left the place after Kaburaki finished the race.

After Crossing The Finish Line, Kilian Turned Around To the Cheering Crowd

While Kilian Jornet was interviewed by the Race Director Greg Soderlund, I had a chance to have a conversation with a nice guy who was standing beside me on the gallery. I was surprised to know that he was the Champion runner in the 1989 Western States edition! I guess, we talked for about 30 minutes that I forgot to track down Kilian Jornet with the crowd. My conversation with this interesting guy will be reserved in a dedicated post in this blog.

Finally, I tried to locate Kilian by trying to find his support team’s vehicle at the parking lot and I thought I missed the opportunity to talk and have a picture with him. But I was surprised to find out that he was still inside the perimeter of the oval track. I was able to track him as he came out from the bathroom!

If I am 145 lbs, Kilian Must Be 135 lbs!!!

I talked to him and wished him with a big congratulations! And he replied positively and he was smiling. We had a brief conversation and he was still fresh and looked like he did not run for the past 15 1/2 hours for a distance of 100 miles in the mountain trails. I requested for a picture with him and he was very cooperative. We talked briefly after the shots and other people from the audience requested also for some pictures with him before he left the oval track compound.

Let me describe how he ran the last 50 yards to the finish line. He started to brisk walk and had “high fives” with the audience on the right side of the oval track. He was also congratulated with handshakes with the people before the finish line. After those handshakes and “high fives”, he simply walked and crossed the Finish Line and turned around and raised his hands towards the cheering audience on the track and on the grandstand. He was smiling and he was looking fresh!

Another Picture With The 2011 Western States 100-Mile Run Champion

After standing on the weighing scale to get his weight, he was awarded with his medal and congratulated by the Race Director. Immediately, he was interviewed by the RD and his answers were heard by the crowd. He was simply a humble and happy guy!

Looking at him within a distance of 5-7 meters, I could see that he is as tall or short like my elite runners with Team Bald Runner. It appears that the has the same size/built and height with Alquin Bolivar and Alley Quisay. I have the notion that our size as Asian has the potential to train and excel in this kind of race. Knowing that Kilian is considered as the youngest winner in this race at the age of 23 years old, it defies the odds that ultra runners are best when they are more matured or older in age.

As he left the oval track’s compound towards his support vehicle, I could see that he was walking normally without any sign of limping.

It was an amazing sight of a young, strong, and fast ultra mountain trail runner.