The last time iRunFar covered Spain’s legendary Zegama-Aizkorri Marathon, the runners in the field made it count. In 2017, Stian Angermund-Vik and Maite Maiora set the previous men’s and women’s course records, respectively, at 3:45:08 and 4:34:27.
This year, the first race of the Golden Trail World Series (GTWS) promised no less excitement when the gun sounded at 9 a.m. Central European Time on May 29, 2022. And it delivered — the thinnest of margins separated the men’s leaders for the bulk of the race, and the dominant women’s leader set a record pace.
After two years of cancellations due to COVID-19, runners took off on the marathon-length course covering 8,876 feet of vertical climb. To say the field was stacked was like saying the sky is blue. Kilian Jornet (Spain, lives in Norway), Maude Mathys (Switzerland), Nienke Brinkman (The Netherlands, lives in Switzerland), Oriol Cardona (Spain), Manuel Merillas (Spain), and Courtney Dauwalter (USA) packed the grid, among others.
It’s hard to imagine a more formulaic race, and the use of that adjective is not a knock. Like the Alpe d’Huez climb in the Tour de France, the course surges out into the thick of a 15,000-spectator throng crammed along its hyper-technical route.
Zegama is Zegama, they say. Verily.
2022 Zegama-Aizkorri Marathon Women’s Race
You could say Nienke Brinkman’s first Zegama was a good one. You could also say it was a historic one.
Brinkman led Maude Mathys by three minutes around the halfway point. That condition prevailed and the young Dutchwoman ultimately defied expectations to beat Mathys by over nine minutes and turn in a 4:16:43 to smash the existing course record by more than 18 minutes.
Brinkman never trailed in the race past the five-mile mark and ran almost the whole race alone, during a season replete with headline performances. In her post-race interview, she said she came into the race underprepared. Sure. It’s fair to say that Brinkman, who has notched a 2:22 marathon performance and a Zegama course record within the span of two months, is changing the sport of running as we type this.
Sara Alonso (Spain) rounded out the top three, 37 seconds behind Mathys and well inside the previous course record.
(In 2015, Mathys received a warning without suspension from the Disciplinary Chamber for Doping Cases of Swiss Olympic for two positive tests for clomifene [previously clomiphene] after it was determined that she was mistakenly taking the drug without first obtaining a World Anti-Doping Agency Therapeutic Use Exemption.)
2022 Zegama-Aizkorri Marathon Women’s Results
- Nienke Brinkman (The Netherlands, lives in Switzerland) — 4:16:43
- Maude Mathys (Switzerland) — 4:26:03
- Sara Alonso (Spain) — 4:26:40
- Patricia Pineda (Spain) — 4:36:31
- Fabiola Conti (Italy) — 4:36:43
- Núria Gil (Spain) — 4:39:11
- Theres Leboeuf (Switzerland) — 4:39:55
- Oihana Kortázar (Spain) — 4:41:41
- Marcela Vasinova (Czech Republic) — 4:44:10
- Courtney Dauwalter (USA) — 4:45:34
2022 Zegama-Aizkorri Marathon Men’s Race
Kilian Jornet and Davide Magnini (Italy) ran neck and neck — amazingly so — for over 14 miles on Sunday. At the first checkpoint at 5.3 miles, Jornet led Magnini by a second. By the next one, 3.1 miles later, Magnini had grabbed a one-second lead.
The two ran side-by-side, never hitting a checkpoint more than two seconds apart, until Jornet started to pull away during a steep descent in the race’s 16th mile. And by the time he cruised down the cobblestones on his way to the finish line, he held a commanding two-minute, 30-second lead.
Jornet broke the tape at 3:36:40 and won the race for the 10th time, turning in a new record more than nine minutes faster than the existing one. Magnini followed at 3:39:31, also well inside the old course record and the second-fastest time logged on the route ever — a valiant effort by the 24-year-old Italian ski mountaineer.
Manuel Merillas took third in 3:45:43, a half-minute off the previous course record.
2022 Zegama-Aizkorri Marathon Men’s Results
- Kilian Jornet (Spain, lives in Norway) — 3:36:40
- Davide Magnini (Italy) — 3:39:31
- Manuel Merillas (Spain) — 3:45:43
- Elhousine Elazzaoui (Morocco) — 3:47:53
- Robert Pkemoi Matayango (Kenya) — 3:48:35
- Thibaut Baronian (France) — 3:49:37
- Rémi Bonnet (Switzerland) — 3:49:37
- Nadir Maguet (Italy) — 3:51:00
- Matthew Kiptanui Kibet (Kenya) — 3:52:32
- Frédéric Tranchand (France) — 3:53:37