Just Kilian - Page 7
He arrives calmly in first place, chatting with a volunteer. He fills his water bottles and we trot off. He tells me straight off, "Vamos tranquilo" (Let's go easy).
Kilian rarely makes a mistake once and never makes a mistake twice. Jez Bragg, winner of the 2010 UTMB "Fun Run" [see Issue 71, March 2011], passes us with his pacer. With a slight jolt of adrenaline, I pick the pace up to match Bragg's and Kilian reminds me, "Tranquilo!" Chasing somebody at mile 60 is a mistake that he will not make twice.
He puts his earphones in and we watch Bragg pull away. We never did too much talkin' anyway.
The water bottles are new. He did not have those last year, when he had lost 10 pounds by the end of the race and race volunteers were begging him to take water with him to the next aid station. Now he's sipping, every couple of minutes. Also new are his shirt, shorts and shoes, each, one-of-a-kind, designed according to his specifications, for the oppressive heat of the mid-afternoon, California sun.
Running through Forrest Hill, Kilian points out a red-and-yellow-striped flag hanging from a spectator's car door. "Catalonia!" he proclaims and laughs. All his success and fame and he at times still maintains the mannerisms of a young boy.
As we begin the descent down to the American River I begin to think that I'm hearing humming. Then whistling. Only then do I realize that it is coming from Kilian. Whistling!
Jez Bragg comes back and Nick Clark passes us. Nick Clark comes back and Mike Wolfe passes us. Mike Wolfe comes back.
Kilian keeps listening to his music.
"Techno?" I ask.
"No," he laughs. "Not so much the techno."
It appears Kilian is into Spanish pop, Bob Dylan and Bach.
At the mile-66 aid station the volunteers welcome him by name. An older man says how happy he is to see Kilian carrying water this year. He laughs it off and is back on the trail in less than a minute—down from three minutes last year.