The Ultrarunners Manifesto

Originally this was called the Skyrunners manifesto and I found it in Kilian Jornet’s book. Look him up. He’s the ultimate mountain athlete who is a badass skier, ski mountaineer and of course runner when it’s not ski season. He found the manifesto from somewhere and had it pinned to his door so he could read it before he went training. I changed the title of it to suit what I do (Skyrunning is not really a thing in Australia) and also pinned it to my door. I don’t read it every day (maybe that’s why I’m not like Killian) but for me it serves two purposes:

  • It’s an awesome motivator and reminder to me that to be good at something you have to be selfish and sacrifice what other people consider a normal way of living.
  • Secondly, it allows me to believe I’m on the right path by using and sharing something that worked for a person of Kilian’s calibre. It’s like a mirror or a window in that I like to fantasise that at one point, we’ve both been reading the same piece of writing and that’s a pretty cool connection to have.

Here it is:

Kiss or kill. Kiss the glory or die trying. Losing is death, winning means breathing. The struggle is what makes a victory, a winner.How many times have you cried of rage and pain? How many times have you lost your memory, your voice and your judgment because of your tiredness? And in this situation, how many times have you been thinking: Try again! A couple of hours more! Another hill! Pain does not exist, it is only in your head! Control it, destroy it, delete it, carry on! Make your opponents suffer, kill them. I am selfish, am I not? Sport is selfish because one has to be selfish to be able to fight and suffer, to love loneliness and hell. To stop, to cough, to be freezing, not feeling one's legs, to feel nauseous, to vomit, have headache, a shock, blood running down your body... Have you got something better to offer me?
The secret is not in the legs. It is to find enough courage to go out and run when it's raining, windy, when it's snowing. When flashes of lightning hit the trees. When snowballs or ice rain hit your legs, your body and make you cry. To continue, you have to dry the tears from your face to be able to see the stones, the obstacles, the sky. Forget some hours of party, face tens of reproaches, say no to a girl, to the warmth of the blanket covering your face... Send everything to hell and go out in the rain until your legs bleed after having fallen down and risen again to keep running up... Until your legs shout: ENOUGH! And leave you alone in the middle of a storm in unknown mountains... until death.
Shorts drenched by the snow, brought by the wind that slaps you face and freezes your sweat. Light body, light legs. Feel the way the pressure of your legs and the weight of your body are concentrated on the metatarsus of your feet's fingers, exerting a pressure capable of breaking stones, destroying planets and moving continents. With both legs in the air, flying like an eagle and running faster than a cheetah.
Or when you are going downhill, when your legs sink in snow or mud, just before pushing forward, and make you feel free to fly, scream of rage, of hatred and love in the heart of the mountain, where only the bravest rodents or birds can become your confessors, hidden in their nest under the rocks...
They are the only ones who know your secrets and your fears. Because losing means dying. And you cannot die without giving your best, everything, without crying because of pain and injuries, you cannot give up. You have to fight until death. Glory is the greatest thing, you cannot reach it without giving everything you have. You have to fight, suffer and die. Without that, nothing is worth it. The time to suffer has come, the time to fight has come, the time to win has come. Kiss or kill.
Kilian Jornet with a dislocated shoulder.
Kilian won a 100 mile mountain race after dislocating his shoulder. That’s definitely living the message of this manifesto.

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