Spanish mountain runner Killian Jornet smashed the longstanding record for running to the summit of Mont Blanc and back down again, covering the route in an astonishing 4 hours, 57 minutes and 40 seconds on Thursday. He broke the previous record, set in 1990 by Pierre André Gobet, by 13 minutes.
The 4,810-metre peak is the highest mountain in the Alps and normally takes mountaineers days to summit. It’s often called “Death Mountain” or “White Killer” because of the number of lives it has claimed over the years.
Wearing running shorts and a technical T-shirt, the Salomon-sponsored Jornet, 25, completed most of the route with 22-year-old friend Mathéo Jacquemond, but the Frenchman was forced to stop on the descent after suffering an injury.
“On the [descent] we went quite fast, sliding and running and at some point Mathéo fell down and couldn’t keep up on the final stretch,” Jornet wrote on his blog. “It was a pity, but overall I am very happy … It was very nice to get to share the route with a friend. Once we reached the top we looked at each other and we understood what this route meant for the two of us.”
This run was part of a series of speed records that Jornet plans to set over the next several months for a film project called “Summits of My Life.” He hopes to run up and down eight other somewhat runnable mountains, including Mount Elbrus (5,642 metres) in Russia, the Matterhorn (4,478 metres) in the Alps and finishing with the mother of them all, Mount Everest, where he’ll go after the current record of 20 hours, 24 minutes.
Here’s the trailer for the “Summits of My Life” movie: