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Kilian Jornet Vanlife with MTN champion

Talking vanlife with Kilian Jornet, and using his Mercedes Marco Polo as the ultimate base camp.

Words: Alex Brown. Article appeared in Advanture Magazine issue 03: Summer Vibes!

Kilian Jornet interview for Advanture Magazine

Kilian Jornet on vanlife. He is a mountain athlete who wins competitions and sets insane records across the world. We spoke with him about using his Mercedes Marco Polo as the ultimate base camp to train from. Our editor, Alex Brown, fired some questions his way to find out if Kilian’s camper van has a small piece to play in his success.

Kilian Jornet using his Mercedes Marco Polo as a base camp
Mercedes Marco Polo, perfect base camp vehicle. Photo: Matti Bernitz

AM: Hi Kilian, for those who don’t already know you, who are you and what are your passions?
Kilian: I am someone who loves to spend time outdoors. I also like to train and push my body so running, skiing or climbing in the mountains is the perfect match for me. I’ve been a professional athlete for the past 15 years, and I’ve also taken several personal projects in the mountains around the world. Now I live in Norway with my family. I also try to pass along the message that we need to take care of our environment and our mountains because they are one of the most precious things we have.

AM: So it looks like year-round, you are always enjoying some activity suited for the season. What is your favourite time of year, and where do you love to spend it the most?
Kilian: It’s hard to tell! I love winter so I can ski a lot, but also here in Norway I love the summer as we have a lot of hours of sunlight and it’s perfect for doing long activities.

AM: We heard that the UTMB was cancelled this year. How do you plan to spend the summer with regards to training closer to home in Norway and also with your family?
Kilian: Racing is not my priority anymore, now I’m always looking for other challenges. It’s sure that this summer has been very weird due to the COVID situation so I’m looking forward to spending time in the mountains doing several activities. We are doing more “local tourism”, driving our van to different parts of the country and exploring the mountains there! We’ve also been to Sweden, where Emelie my partner is from and spending time there with family.

Read more interviews from the Advanture Magazine.

AM: For a staycation in Norway, how will the campervan benefit you on micro-adventures this summer?
Kilian: It’s great. You can pack all the gear you need and just drive until you find a mountain you like. It’s great for our family as we can all sleep inside and spend time comfortably.

Interview with Kilian Jornet in Advanture Magazine
Racing at the famous Spanish Zegama race. Photo: Sergi Colome

“… this is a perfect summer for microadventures …”

AM: What has been one of the most memorable experiences in your sporting career?
Kilian: It’s hard to choose one! I always say that the best memory is yet to come!

AM: Considering many sporting events have been cancelled this year, is there anything else that you are focusing on such as micro-adventures?
Kilian: I’m enjoying a lot the mountains and I also trained on the treadmill during the lockdown. That has lead me to train a bit on the flat after this. However, as you were saying this is a perfect summer for microadventures and mountaineering in Norway!

AM: If you were to plan a one-week camping road trip around Norway for trail running, what locations and type of runs would you include?
Kilian: Norway is a long country! From south to north is 2000km, so I would recommend taking a region instead of trying to do all the country since then it will be impossible to explore all of it. In the west coast, to go Joutenheimen, there Hurrungane is an amazing place for trail running, going then to Sunmore Alpen, Romsdal and Eikesdalen, with endless trails … In the north, a journey could start in Lofoten to go Senja, Tomsø and end in Lyngen. Apps like norgeskart or have all the trails marked and it is very easy to plan adventures.

Kilian training. Running at home in Norway
Running on the high alpine routes during the summer months in Norway. Photo: Matti Bernitz

AM: Why do you think a campervan is the best choice for the adventure athlete, rather than a fancy car and hotel?
Kilian: I think everyone has different needs so I wouldn’t say that if you’re an adventure athlete you need a van! But for sure it’s a good option if you like to travel around equipped with everything, to stop and sleep close to the mountains or in any place that you like!

AM: You and Emelie (wife) grow a lot of organic produce at home. How do you incorporate some of this into your meal plan for camping trips?
Kilian: Well, I give all the credit to Emelie for that, she is the master in the garden! It is simple, when eating sandwiches it is good to have from the bread baked home or when travelling with the van we have in the fridge some veggies from the garden. It is also easy when camping to take tupperware with prepared food home with the ingredients from the garden. AM