Ever since the beginning of when I started to follow trail running and Skyrunning, I have always heard about this crazy race in the Basque Country in Spain called Zegama. And when I asked people about it and how it was everybody just responded, “Zegama is Zegama” and smiled. It’s probably the most prestigious and special Skyrace in the world with only 500 spots but thousands of people sign up for the lottery for a bib to the race. The course is 42km with 2700m of climbing and it’s really demanding and spectacular. But what makes Zegama truly special is the thousand of people who is not racing but is hiking up in the mountains to party and cheer on the runners. So I have been wanting to go there ever since I heard about the race and this year I could finally go there and experience it myself.
The start field this year was more competitive than any other year with runners like Kilian Jornet, Remi Bonnet, Stian Angermund Vik, Andy Waker and many many more.
The pace from the start was just ridiculously high. It was like we were going out for a 3000m in the beginning. And when we started to climb after 600m Kilian and Andy was in the front and me and Remi followed. I could follow them up the first small climb in but when we started to run flat and a bit downhill, my legs were not good and before I knew it they where gone. I got cached by Aritz and then later Thibaut and Bart and followed them in he next climb but when we started to run flat again it was just the same story. I lost 30 seconds in a really short downhill, and it got frustrated. My heart and lungs felt ok but my legs just couldn’t stride like I’m used to or take the punches in the downhill. I also started to feel tiered and it was really hot. But I still enjoyed the race and thought that the race was long and it could turn around. I felt pretty good when I followed Stian up to the first high summit after 17km but even though my body and mind had a lot of energy, my legs just had nothing left. I lost Stian before the downhill from 17-21km so from 21-30K it was a real struggle. The only thing that kept my spirit high and gave me energy was all the people who was screaming and cheering in the climb up to Aizkorri. It was almost like my first ski World Cup in Holmenkollen and something I will never forget. From 30km I started to feel better and I could do a good last climb and downhill. I gained some positions and finished 12 overall.
It was a good result, specially considering it was just 3 weeks after Transvulcania Ultramarathon. But I felt that it was not enough time between those two races to be able to perform at my best. Now I know that and so for next year I want to go to Zegama and feel fresh and ready.
But overall, I’m happy with the weekend in Zegama, it was really fun to spend time with all of the team, get to know some new people and meet the nice people from Basque.
Thanks Salomon Running and Zegama!!
Photos Jordi Sargarossa, Martina Valmassoi and Philip Reiter