Kil­ian Jor­net wins fourth con­sec­u­tive race de­spite suf­fer­ing a dis­lo­cated shoul­der.

Won fourth straight race with arm in sling

The Denver Post - - SPORTS - By Daniel Petty

SAN JUAN MOUN­TAINS» From the clouds above the Grouse Gulch aid sta­tion emerged Kil­ian Jor­net, wear­ing a dis­tinc­tive red cap, gin­gerly run­ning and weav­ing his way down switch­backs into the val­ley as a steady soak­ing rain fell un­der a slate-col­ored sky, punc­tu­ated by oc­ca­sional flashes of light­ning and rolling thun­der.

Here, not quite half­way through the Hardrock 100 en­durance run, Jor­net — per­haps the great­est en­durance ath­lete of his gen­er­a­tion — ap­peared hurt. His left arm was tucked close to his body, while he car­ried a hiker’s pole in the other hand, try­ing to steady him­self down the steep de­scent.

For once in his sto­ried ul­tra­run­ning and moun­taineer­ing ca­reer, Jor­net looked vul­ner­a­ble.

“I didn’t think I could make it to the fin­ish to­day,” Jor­net, a na­tive of Spain, later ad­mit­ted.

Had he dropped out, few would have blamed him. Jor­net said he fell on Stony Pass be­fore Maggie Gulch just out­side Sil­ver­ton — roughly near mile 13 in the course’s 100.5-mile route — and dis­lo­cated his shoul­der. He popped it back in him­self and con­tin­ued his run, for­go­ing med­i­ca­tion along the way, he said when asked about it.

“It’s not the first time,” he said of the in­jury. He raced all the way to his fourth con­sec­u­tive win at the Hardrock 100 — his arm wrapped by medics in a sling — in 24 hours, 32 min­utes, 32 sec­onds.

“At the begin­ning it was painful, then bet­ter, but then as the storm started com­ing it got very painful,” Jor­net said. “It’s not easy.”

A busted shoul­der might not seem like as big a deal as, say, a bro­ken foot. But given the treach­er­ous and steep ter­rain — dan­ger that was com­pounded by rain — the chal­lenge Jor­net faced would have prob­a­bly con­quered most any other ath­lete. Up un­til the fi­nal 11 miles, Jor­net was trad­ing the lead with Mike Foote of Mon­tana, who had twice fin­ished in se­cond, and once in third at Hardrock, and run­ner Joe Grant, who last year set the record for self-sup­ported climb­ing of Colorado’s 57 four­teen­ers.

“I’ll take it, es­pe­cially when Kil­ian’s in front of me,” said Foote, who fin­ished se­cond, tears welling in his eyes at the fin­ish. “Kil­ian graced me with his pres­ence the ma­jor­ity of the run, then he left me. Which I was ex­pect­ing.”

Jor­net’s sta­tus as an ul­tra-en­durance ath­lete rock­eted to in­ter­na­tional fame in May. He as­cended and de­scended Mount Ever­est from base camp with­out sup­ple­men­tal oxy­gen or fixed ropes — about 12,296 feet — the fi­nal climb in his Sum­mits of My Life project, an at­tempt to set the record for an as­cent and de­scent on some of the planet’s most iconic moun­tains. Fewer than 200 peo­ple have ever sum­mited Ever­est with­out the use of sup­ple­men­tal oxy­gen.

De­spite a stom­ach bug, he fin­ished in 26 hours, set­ting a fastest known time for the feat. Just six days later, he did it again, this time start­ing slightly higher from ad­vanced base camp. This time, it took him only 17 hours.

At the Hardrock fin­ish in Sil­ver­ton, the moun­tains lost in morning fog, Jor­net’s own words be­lied the pain show­ing on his face. The in­jury forced him to be more cau­tious on de­scents, but he could gain ground on his com­pe­ti­tion on the as­cents.

“Not a lot, but a lit­tle,” he said of the pain he felt.

Even­tual women’s win­ner Caro­line Chaverot of France nearly lost her lead two-thirds of the way through the run. De­scend­ing Vir­ginius Pass in the dark, she and her pace­set­ter be­came dis­ori­ented and lost their way, scram­bling up and down the hill­side. She said she lost about 90 min­utes of time.

“When you get lost, you have to go up. And as I con­tin­ued I was just more lost and more lost,” she re­called at the fin­ish, tears in her eyes. “It’s dif­fi­cult to be mo­ti­vated when you get lost so many times.”

She con­sid­ered drop­ping out but thought about how lucky she had been to be se­lected to com­pete in Hardrock, a lottery process in which the only two guar­an­teed en­tries are the men’s and women’s win­ners from the pre­vi­ous year. Hav­ing raced suc­cess­fully in Europe, this was her first run in North Amer­ica. She was well ahead of the course-record pace when the in­ci­dent oc­curred.

“Fi­nally, we saw a guy, then we scram­bled down,” she said. “I was so dispir­ited. I thought we would never find the course.”

Dur­ing a scram­ble, she and her pace­set­ter fell, right be­fore ar­riv­ing in Tel­luride, but man­aged to hold on the fi­nal 33 miles. Af­ter her 28-hour, 31-minute, 50-se­cond jour­ney through some of Colorado’s tough­est moun­tains, she paused in re­flec­tion, be­fore adding:

“It’s a tough race.”

Pho­tos by Daniel Petty, Spe­cial to The Den­ver Post

Kil­ian Jor­net, with his arm in a sling, fin­ishes the Hardrock 100 en­durance race through the San Juan Moun­tains on Satur­day.

Kil­ian Jor­net, who re­cently as­cended and de­scended Mount Ever­est twice in a week, won the Hardrock 100 de­spite dis­lo­cat­ing his shoul­der.

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