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When the going gets tough, the tough get going - Kilian back to winning form at Zegama

by Editor
Monday 21st May 2012

Race report: Ian Corless from Talk Ultra reports from Zegama – Spain, May 20, 2012

In contrast to the 2011 Zegama race of blistering sun and blue skies, the 2012 race was undertaken in torrential rain and cold temperatures. The 9am start in Zegama Square was a chilly one as runners struggled to keep warm.

But start they did for what was going to be a tough day. The course is a classic marathon distance but has an elevation of 5400m. That makes for one tough race. What had been a slippery course in the previous two days became a very slippery and potentially dangerous course on race day for the inexperienced. Runners post race explained how they found it very difficult to keep upright. In particular the long final decent of some 13k.

Zegama – Spain, May 20, 2012

Photos © Ian Corless

British born Nick Clark who placed third at Western States and then third at Hardrock some two weeks apart in 2011 said 'that is one proper mountain race, it was extremely slippery and the rocky sections became treacherous because of the mud left by other runners'.

Joe Grant basically said 'I made completely the wrong shoe choice... Road flats were not a good idea'. With a hint of irony he continued 'I just didn't have any other shoes!' He ran Transvulcania La Palma in hot and dry conditions the previous week and hadn't anticipated such tough conditions as last year's Zegama race was run in 30+ degrees.

In contrast I spoke to third placed lady, Emilie Forsberg post race and she said 'I loved the conditions, I didn't find it too slippery and I didn't get cold' when I told her that second place was just in front of her at the finish she said 'I wish I had known, I would have given it everything I had... I think I ran too hard at the beginning... I was at my limit at the end'.

It was certainly a tough day. Some pre race favourites suffered, in particular Max King. He came to the race focused and ready to take the race to Jornet, Hernando and Owen, but in the end it was not his day. When I saw him with just two kilometres to go he looked cold. Post race he said 'I just wasn't prepared for that. The terrain, the technical aspects, the weather'.

Kilian however was in his element. Pre-race during an interview I asked him how he felt after Transvulcania La Palma. He said 'I feel good, I am recovered and I am looking forward to the race'. When I mentioned the conditions, he said 'I would like it cold and wet'. He got his wish! Seeing Kilian run down the trail like a bouncing mountain goat is so impressive. His ability as a skier is reflected in his running as he bounces from left foot to right.

British lady Lauren Jeska put a pre race plan in action and started to work through the female field. Pushing hard on the rocky sections which she loves and then she took the lead on the ridge between Aizkorri and Aitxuri. She said the decent from the summit was just crazy... So steep and so slippery. At the feed at Urbia she was well in the lead but says after the race that she started to struggle. On the final long decent she could not keep upright and the lead that she had built disappeared finally relinquishing first, second and third place. She said 'I love rocks and I love the climbs but that final 13k decent of mud was a nightmare, I couldn't keep upright' obviously disappointed not to make the podium, she still had a great result for fourth.

Kilian now had taken the lead putting some two minutes into Hernando with Owen in third place. It remained this way right to the finish, Kilian pushing hard and just missing the course record by two minutes.

In the ladies race, Oihana took the lead away from Jeska and pushed hard for victory. Behind, Picas and Forsberg reeled in Jeska too and placed second and third respectively.

Mike Wolfe who had finished in 13th place went on to say 'It was incredible. Just a tough, tough race. We [the American runners] can perform on these courses but we would need to be more specific with our training'.

Another year over and the 2011 first places are repeated with Kilian And Oihana. I can't wait for 2013... I wonder what the weather brings?

Less cloud, MORE SKY maybe.

Men's results



Women's results

4 LAUREN JESKA   5 :04:11


Race Results HERE


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