The mountain man

To me, trail running is snaking through the woods, running down grassed-over river paths. Gentle, recreational, fun.

But then I hadn’t heard of Kilian Jornet, the Catalan mountain runner whose trail accomplishments involve zipping up and down mountains. Yes, mountains! Who knew trail running meant mountains? Well not me.

You can see him for yourself on YouTube and check out the Kilian’s Quest series of short films. I like this one.

He’s 24 now and has already racked up records aplenty. He won the Ultra Trail Mont Blanc in 2008, 2009 and 2011 and he holds the course record. He is the record holder for the Tahoe Rim trail, the Trans Pyrenees and for Mount Kilimanjaro. There’s a lot more. And a lot of skiing stuff. Yes he skis too. And he’s better than good.

And yet, watch him interviewed. He has a natural, matter of fact humbleness. He just is his running. A lesson there.

I’ll be thinking of him as I’m hill running on Sunday. My little Kilimanjaro.

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Running in the Shires

For a hometown visit and the running kit was definitely in the bag. I even took a choice of running tights/capri pant options to cover all bases on the weather. Which was gorgeous – for December.

I set off from my parents’ house and miraculously found the canal tow path – super muddy. Double disaster choices here – in the drink or into the hawthorn hedge and I am the clumsiest runner on this planet so I headed for safety, up a footpath, as soon as I could.

Banbury canal route

Banbury canal route

As if the trail-running fairy was with me I discovered a wood, a reservoir (which I knew about but had never seen) and got to run round and round until I knew the woods, the hill and had said ‘hi’ to some charming young men in the field as i passed three times.

Hello boys

Hello boys

I jogged home, pouring with sweat, feeling great. I stopped to take pix so no great shakes on the times, but a fab run. Bright low sun, chilly air – the best of a british winter.

Aside from running I was down in Banbury to see family – my mum and brother’s birthdays – and to see friends. Good food, good wine, good friends, good times. Important stuff.

Good day sunshine

Beautiful day today, too beautiful to waste.

With Mr M over in Liverpool watching his beloved Everton (finger still crossed for the Toffees) I was left to my own devices. A run; too tempting when the sun is shining and I can wear my iShuffle for a canter around the trails for a bit.

I kind of got a bit carried away – four miles out across country park lanes, watching leaves fluttering to the ground, squirrels rush about and other people out enjoying the late autumn sunshine with tribes of kids and careering dogs.

View from a hill

View from a hill

I was having too much fun. I ran down the river and through Sale water park before thinking, ‘best head home’. And then three miles jog, walking back thinking mostly ‘blimey, hill training tomorrow, maybe I shouldn’t have come so far’.

I had a play on the hills I’ll be running intervals up tomorrow, leaning in, running on my toes and pumping my arms furiously – and then having to stop to recover my breath.

And then I jog-walked through the copses, out of the park and marched along the road home. Not exactly a training run but a lot of fun.