Since 1994 — when the first Vertical Kilometer (VK) took place in Cervinia, Italy — mountain runners have been putting their lungs and legs to the ultimate test against the clock. The concept is simple: Run uphill as fast as you can, covering a vertical kilometer of elevation gain — that’s 1,000 vertical meters or 3,281 vertical feet — on a route not exceeding 5 KM (3.1 miles) in length. The actual terrain will vary depending upon the course, but typically involves an average incline of 20% with some sections over 33%. Poles and hands may be used to aid progress.
Kilian Jornet exemplifies the speed at which some of the world’s best mountain runners can ascend a VK. According to Jornet, “VK is all about pure performance. It’s not about technique or strategy it’s just how much you can work and how strong you are.” In what time can Jornet run a Vertical Kilometer? Watch this November 2021 Salomon TV episode as Kilian explores Norways epic landscapes to find the perfect spot to break the previous fastest known time — “FKT” — of a VK held by Philip Gotsch (under 29 minutes).