Seeing either of these two names on an ultratrail starting line (mountain races over 100km) cut the predictions short. Kilian Jornet from 2008 and then François D’haene from 2012 have undisputedly dominated the largest ultra trails in the world. The two men meet this Friday in Colorado (United States) for the prestigious Hardrock 100.
The first revolutionized the discipline with three wins in Chamonix at the UTMB (2008, 2009 and 2011), demonstrating that a 20-year-old athlete was capable of winning a major ultra. Behind it, the Spanish prodigy has won everything from the vertical kilometer (less than 30 minutes of effort) to the biggest “ultras” (more than 20 hours) through the most competitive trails (9 wins in Sierre-Zinal) and the world circuit of ski mountaineering (8 times world champion).
The second impresses with its long-distance consistency with brilliant wins, four in the UTMB (2012, 2014, 2017, 2021), four in the Grand Raid de la Réunion (2013, 2014, 2016, 2018). Two records of victories in two of the most prestigious races that do not mask other great successes such as those in the MIUT (Madeira) or the UTMF (Japan). Appearances on the same finish lines but that’s where the similarity ends.
D’haene, 36, is the stereotype of the “specialist”, master of a racing format, the ultra-trail, which the Frenchman diligently prepares each season from his Beaufortain mountains. At 34 years old, Jornet is a genius jack of all trades, having won it all when it comes to delivering endurance in the mountains and opening his horizons to remarkable achievements in mountaineering (a record on Everest, in particular) .
wait five years
Two styles and few confrontations: the athletes faced each other on only a handful of occasions, only once in 2017 at the UTMB. That year, D’haene evenly beat Jornet in the toughest ultra race in history. The Spaniard, a victim of foot problems, admitted his defeat with respect and called for a rematch.
We had to wait five years for it, but this weekend, on the occasion of the Hardrock 100 (160 kilometers and 10,000 altimeters with several passages at more than 4,000 meters altitude), the two men meet again. Jornet has already won the Colorado high mountains four times (2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017). D’haene is the defending winner (2021) and record holder of the event (9:45 PM). Everything seems in place to observe the greatest duel in the history of ultra-trail.