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Ehunmilak: A Hundred Miles in the (Basque) Highlands

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Some races have something very special about them and really get under your skin. This is our fourth year out at Ehunmilak and I can honestly say that it never ceases to amaze me. All around the course there are jaw-dropping backdrops (and the odd world heritage site), the atmosphere is unparalleled and those elements which make the hairs on the back of your neck are present in abundance.

Ehunmilak 2019
The view from Aizkorri, the highest summit on the course

The first race, Ehunmilak (100 miles with 11,000m of ascent), kicked off at 6pm on Friday evening. Before the start the runners were treated to traditional Basque songs, dances and music and then, of course, Vangelis’s Conquest of Paradise. After the drama of last year, when the races had to be stopped because of storms, the weather was pretty perfect. The conditions stayed dry for the race and, fortunately, no lightning!

It was pretty warm when the race set off (about 28 degrees), but it cooled down during the night and actually, running conditions were pretty perfect throughout the weekend. It was great conditions for the spectators, not that they would have cared if it had snowed. This race enjoys incredible local support. It can be 2am and the crowds around the aid stations are like rush hour on the tube.

In the men’s race Jon Aizpuru struck out in the lead right from the start, just as he did last year. The big question was whether Javi Dominguez, who’s won this race several times, would reel him in. Or was he still tired from doing Lavaredo two weeks ago? It was very close at times, with only minutes separating them for the first half. There was also a threat in the form of another local runner, Unai Dorronsoro, who was just ahead of Javi for the first half of the race.

In the end Jon Aizpuru extended his lead in the second half of the race and, while Javi Dominguez clawed back a little bit of time towards the end, Jon won by 43 minutes. Unai Dorronsoro finished 45 minutes behind Javi.

Ehunmilak 2019
Jon Aizpuru takes the victory at Ehunmilak 2019!

In the women’s race there was total domination by Ewa Majer. She was out in front from the start and continued to stretch that lead out all night, then day, then night again! This was Ewa’s third year at Ehunmilak and the third time she’s led. However, the first year she DNFd due to an ankle injury and the second time she was leading but the race was stopped due to storms. So it really was a case of third time lucky. She won in a great time of 25.55. Elena Calvillo was second, two and a half hours behind Ewa, and Jaione Sasieta was third.

Ehunmilak 2019
Ewa Majer is victorious in the women’s race

In the 88k race, G2Haundiak (which has 6,000m of ascent), it was a fast and furious affair. It sets off at 11pm, so the runners ran in nice cool temperatures for a long while. The top 3 men kept swapping places between them but it was Ion Azpiroz who came out on top, with Goar Lopetegui in second and Alvaro Ramos in third. In the women’s race Uxue Faile dominated, leading from start to finish. Elixabete Ursua was second and Amaia Ochoa de Alda was third.

Ehunmilak 2019
A tired g2haundiak runner nears the end of a big climb

The Marimurimendi Marathon (the ‘baby’ race with a mere 2300 of ascent!) kicked off this morning.

You can find full results and all the information about the race (if you’re thinking about entering in 2020) on their website HERE.

Header image copyright www.carrerasdemontana.com

 

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Written by
Kirsty Reade

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