Jonathan Albon ist nicht nur unangefochtener Champion im Obstacle Run (OCR), sondern mischt seit einigen Jahren auch die Szene der Skyrunner mächtig auf. Der Brite mit der Wahlheimat Norwegen gewann bereits dreimal den Tromsø Skyrace und sicherte sich im Jahr 2018 den Titel des Sky Ultra Champion. Auch im Jahr 2019 startet Jon Albon bei der Migu Run Skyrunner® World Series und gilt als einer der Topfavoriten auf den neu ausgetragenen Titel des „Weltbesten Skyrunners“. Dieses Wochenende steht er bereits beim ersten Rennen der Serie in Japan an der Startlinie und möchte natürlich seiner Favoritenrolle gerecht werden.
Im folgenden Interview erzählt er uns von seinen Saisonplänen, dem Winter in Norwegen und seiner ganz speziellen Vorbereitung auf das erste Skyrace 2019.
It’s just days before your first Sky Race in Japan. How have you been preparing for the season?
I’ve spent the winter doing all types of skiing in Norway where I live. It’s only recently that I’ve started running more again. I don’t really stick to a training plan but I do have a training philosophy: I do longer, slower training in the winter and then 3 running sessions per week right before the season starts. I’m just trying to go out, get the hours in and have fun but then also do some specific running sessions. For me the most important thing is that I enjoy myself. If I’m enjoying myself, I’m so much happier with what I’m doing.
What is it that made you return to the Migu Run Skyrunner® World Series?
I just really enjoy skyrunning. Rather than trail running where it’s always under 10% and running on gravel roads, skyrunning is the extreme end of mountain running. I really like the simple concept: there’s a mountain, run up it! The Skyrunner World Series is always a great way to travel and discover new races all over the world and you always know you’re going to be up against other very strong athletes.
Can you tell us why you chose Mt Awa Skyrace as your first race of the season?
It’s partly because I’ve never been to Japan and thought it would be fun to go someplace new. It’s also an early kickoff to the season. Last year my first sky race wasn’t until the summer and that was a bit late so it’s nice this year to get the ball rolling early.
And what do you think about the course?
I haven’t really studied it closely yet to be honest. I know it’s relatively short compared to some of the other races I’ve done so it will be quite hard and fast for me – which is a good thing. I saw there’s some snow at the top which obviously makes running a bit more tiring so that could be tough. I’m pretty excited just to go there not knowing too much about it and finding out along the way.
Can you talk us through the rest of your 2019 race calendar?
After Japan it’s Transvulcania. I’ve always wanted to do that race because it’s a really famous one, but I never got the chance to so I’m really excited about that. It’s 3 weeks after Japan and 75 km, so quite a bit further. Then it’s the BUFF Epic Trail. I chose that one because I went on holiday to the Pyrenes last year and went running in the valley where the race is. It was such an impressive place, so I’m happy to go back and do a race there this time. Third is Tromso – I guess that’s an old favorite. I love running in Norway, it’s really pure. You get to run in the raw nature and see some reindeer along the way so that’s one that I’m looking forward to as well.
Obviously, you won Tromsø the past 2 years in a row. How confident are you this year?
It really depends. I’ve got a lot of experience on the course which helps, but it really depends on which athletes are there. Every race I do, I try my best and aim to win, but you’ve just got to see how it goes on the day and also how the season unfolds – anything could happen. Last year I got sick before Andorra so I couldn’t race and that meant I missed out on the whole series. Hopefully it won’t happen this year but if I miss one, I’ll have to plan another one.
What do you think about the 2019 overall single ranking system?
It’s certainly going to be a lot more competitive this year. All the athletes are going for the same races and competing in the same series, so to finish in the top 5 this year would be equally as good, if not better, than winning one of the categories in a previous year. It’s a big challenge but I’m looking forward to it.
And out of all the athletes you’ll be up against, who do you see as your main competitor?
Oh, I’m not really sure. I know Luis Alberto Hernando is going to be doing the skyrunning series and obviously he’s a really good runner. But right now, I’m just trying to concentrate on myself. I just want to enjoy some good races and see how it all pans out.
So, what kind of training will you do now until the first race in Japan?
I have a ski tour race in Norway. It’s 77km with around 7,500 m elevation gain. Normally people take around 5 days but my wife wants to do it in 2. Hopefully we do, because then I’ll be back in time to pack for my flight to Japan. So that will be the last adventure of the winter season before my skyrunning season begins.