On a classic Zegama-Aizkorri Marathon day, with countless hours of rain, tons of mud, and freezing cold weather, Kilian Jornet (pre-race interview) and Norwegian rising trail star Yngvild Kaspersen won the 15th edition of the marathon, the second “Sky” race in this year’s Skyrunner World Series.
2016 Zegama-Aizkorri Marathon Women’s Race
Some fast ladies lined up for this year’s Zegama Marathon. Leading the names was last year’s champion, Azara Garcia, who had a great season and began this year with a win on Spain’s Ultra Championships.
From the very beginning, Garcia took off and opened up a three minute lean onthe chase group by the 9-kilometer mark. American Megan Kimmel was second at this point, with Oihana Kortazar and Ragna Debats running in third and fourth just a minute behind her. Young gun Yngvild Kaspersen who was making her marathon debut, kept things easy showing up here in fifth.
Halfway into the race, Garcia was still leading, running strong, and pushing a hard pace to repeat her win from last year. But her lead wasn’t big anymore, with Kimmel arriving to this point just a minute after her. Kortazar kept doing her own thing and passed through this point in third, alone. Two minutes behind her were Debats and Kaspersen taking things easier than the rest. The big show started after this point.
After losing a bunch of time on the big uphill to Aizkorri and the ridgeline to Aitxuri, Garcia finally dropped at Urbia, 28k into the race with Kimmel taking over the lead there. However, Kaspersen took advantage of the Norwegian-like weather and moved from fifth to first at the top of Andraitz, 30k into the race. From there to the finish line, she controlled the race and finished winning in 4:50:58. Kimmel completed a great comeback to Zegama after her 2010 race, and finished in second in 4:59:46. Kortazar had a strong race to the finish, repeating her last year position, finishing third with a time of 5:06:37. Close to Kortazar after an amazing downhill was Catalunya’s Marta Molist in 5:07:41. After sixth months out of the scene due to a stress fracture, Maite Maiora came back in her home race to finish in a happy fifth place to start the season in 5:18:59.
Sixth was Laura Sola from Spain, Basque Uxue Fraile was seventh, Eva Moreda took home eighth place, Spain’s Nuria Domínguez ninth, and Basque Oihana Azkorbebeitia was tenth.
Same story as the men’s race, lots of women retired today due to bad weather, such as Azara Garcia, Ragna Debats and Gemma Arenas.
2016 Zegama-Aizkorri Marathon Women’s Results
- Yngvild Kaspersen (Salomon) — 4:50:58
- Megan Kimmel (ASICS) — 4:59:46
- Oihana Kortazar (Salomon) — 5:06:37
- Marta Molist (Inverse Teams) — 5:07:41
- Maite Maiora (La Sportiva) — 5:18:59
- Laura Sola (Lubrel) — 5:20:33
- Uxue Fraile (Vibram) — 5:21:17
- Eva Moreda — 5:30:50
- Nuria Domínguez — 5:32:48
- Oihana Azkorbebeitia — 5:45:56
2016 Zegama-Aizkorri Marathon Men’s Race
This year’s men’s race at Zegama played out much differently than last year. While weather is usually a key factor at the race, this many athletes withdrew from the race with hypothermia.
Top Basque runner last year, Aritz Egea, used his well-known strategy of going out fast and breaking up the lead pack. Kilian Jornet followed him close, opening a gap of around a minute to the chase group that included Hassan Ait Chaou, Luis Alberto Hernando, and Manuel Merillas. A second chase group lead by Swiss Marc Lauenstein was running fast to catch up, around 1:30 behind the leaders, and including Tom Owens, Tadei Pivk, and Jessed Hernandez.
Things started to change in Sancti Spiritu, halfway into the race, with Lauenstein leading Jornet in a strong pace after the first big climb. Egea dropped to third, followed close by Hernando and Pivk. At top of Aizkorri, Kilian Jornet took the lead to finish winning calmly with a 10-minute gap on the runner-up in 3:50:03. There’s not much to say about Kilian’s win other than he completely dominated the situation and that when the weather got worst on the ridge from Aizkorri to Aitxuri he was stronger than the rest of the field.
Former orienteering world champion Marc Lauenstein from Switzerland was one of the dark horses today, despite not being a downhill specialist, he managed to keep the pace for second place from Andraitz at 30k to finish line in 3:59:22. Third to fifth were Hernando in 4:00:05, Merillas in 4:00:32, and Pivk in 4:01:57, separated by less than two minutes. Hernando, who won Transvulcania just two weeks ago, made a huge effort to complete the podium, while last year’s second- and first-place runners did a great job in this freezing year jumping into top five. I would like to add that these three were running together before the last downhill, at the 30k mark, where Hernando used his downhill abilities to escape from his chasers.
Moroccan living in the Basque country Ismail Razga was sixth, Scotland’s Tom Owens seventh, Adrien Michau from France was eighth, Basque Jokin Lizeaga was ninth and rounding up the top ten was Swedish runner André Jonsson.
Due to bad weather and extreme cold up at the ridges, top runners like Aritz Egea, Hassan Ait Chaou, Remi Bonnet, Saul Padua, and others had to drop with close-to-hypothermia issues.
2016 Zegama-Aizkorri Marathon Men’s Results
- Kilian Jornet (Salomon) — 3:50:03 (pre-race interview)
- Marc Lauenstein (Salomon) — 3:59:22
- Luis Alberto Hernando (Adidas) — 4:00:05
- Manuel Merillas (Mammut) — 4:00:32
- Tadei Pivk (Nortec) — 4:01:57
- Ismail Razga (Gran Sestoa) — 4:05:33
- Tom Owens (Salomon) — 4:06:33
- Adrien Michaud (SCOTT) – 4:07:14
- Jokin Lizeaga (Ternua) — 4:13:42
- André Jonsson (Peak Performance) — 4:18:13
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Thanks to our friends that made the coverage possible today, such as Iosu Juaristi in the field and Dani Torres from the office in Patagonia.