On a Zegama Aizkorri 2012 course covered in mud and under the rain, Kilian Jornet achieved his fifth crown at Zegama, ahead of Luis Alberto Hernando while Oihana Kortazar won the women’s category with Nuria Picas came in second. Epic race it was, and few of the runners present are ever to forget the atmosphere.
ZEGAMA AIZKORRI 2012 RACE REPORT
The heavy weather conditions for the last days prior, as well as the rain and even snow drizzle at the summits for the race day set up a tougher race than anticipated for many Zegama first-timers. In the men’s race, reigning Skyrunner World Series champion Luis Alberto Hernando led the field to the summit followed closely by Kilian Jornet, who, despite the difficult conditions, comfortably romped to the finish in 3h56’08”, slicing 22” off last year’s winning time , but still 1’50” short of Rob Jebb’s record set in 2005. Britain’s Tom Owens, last year a close second to Jornet, was third today.
Oihana Kortazar, as standing skyrunning champion and last year’s winner, led from the start, closely followed by Britain’s Lauren Jeska, alternating the lead. At 32 km Kortazar cruised past Jeska to finish in 4h52’30”. Sweden’s Emilie Forsberg was in the lead pack for the whole race, until spaniard Nuria Picas who had been pacing the leaders, overtook her in the final ten kilometres, accelerating to a brilliant second position in 5h’1.28”.
The cold, muddy and wet course conditions made the race more technical and physical than most of the previous years, but also accounted for a very special edition as captured in this video by Ultra168.
Little wonder then that the race saw up and downs in several performances: American Max King, 2011 World Mountain Running Champion, held third position to the summit, but suffered mightily to complete the 42 km distance and finished 16th. On the other hand, it must be acknowledged that many of the top finishers were new to skyrunning. Hence, in standing up to the world’s top skyrunners on this course and day, they showed great potential for the rest of the season. These include frenchman Michel Lannes 4th, Sweden’s Emilie Forsberg 3rd and Britain’s Lauren Jeska 4th.
A number of the runners had competed only a week ago in the first of the World Series Ultra races, the mammoth (83km) Transvulcania Ultra Marathon on La Palma and, with the exception of an incredible Jornet who was third there and first at Zegama, as well as Picas who was second at both races, the rest suffered the all-too short recovery time.
Americans who stayed over after Transvulcania to get a taste of a classic SkyMarathon included Dakota Jones, the 21 year-old winner who demonstrated true sportsman’s spirit by participating in Zegama, closing in 40th position; Mike Wolfe was an excellent 14th, and Joe Grant, 44th. Great performance by Nikki Kimball in 8th position here, considering she was third at last week’s Transvulcania.
Other runners that participated in Transvulcania were Swiss ski-mountaineering champion Florent Troillet, 15th, Argentinian, Gustavo Reyes, 26th.
Spain showed their dominance in skyrunning yet again, with the two reigning skyrunning champions taking first and second places in both categories and the indomitable Kilian Jornet, first yet again.
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