Was out running in the mountains around Boulder with Tony (and several others) today. We were running down Fern Canyon and began talking a bit about Kilian Jornet and his insane talent running up and/or down steep technical trail. I mentioned to Tony how I had no idea what to really expect from Kilian going into Western States this year, but how obvious it was just a few minutes into the race that he is every bit as gifted of a runner as all the hype would indicate. He has so much capability that I only needed to run with him for a few minutes to realize that we were running in the presence of someone who is one of the best in the world at what he does.
As Tony and I ran down one of the steepest, most technical trails in the Boulder area and talked about this I suddenly had this ironic "ahha" moment in which for maybe the first time I really understood how insanely talented of a runner Tony is. Here was a guy who had run 68 miles yesterday, was 2+ hours into a run in which he hadn't had a sip of water, and was running down Fern Canyon like it was a paved bike path. I was feeling really good today so it was really easy for me to stay right on his heels and admire how gifted he really is. I was shocked at how smooth he was able to run down this trail with his legs as tired as they must have been after his huge effort yesterday. I also had a bit of insight into just how dialed into the local trails he is when we were further down Fern Canyon and in mid sentence he said, "oh, that is new." That being one random rock in the middle of a thousand rocks. Intimate trail knowledge certainly helps with being able to run so smoothly down a steep, technical stretch of trail, but what I saw in Tony today goes way beyond intimate trail knowledge. It speaks rather of the reality that he (like Kilian) is one of the best in the world at what he does. Good stuff.