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All the news from Ehunmilak 2017!

by editor
Thursday 13th July 2017
Tags  Ehunmilak   |   Javi Dominguez   |   Silvia Trigueros
Ehunmilak Ultra Trail is 168km/D+11.000m. A unique race in the Basque Country. 
Ehunmilak 2017 was a record-breaking event in many ways. Popular demand soared as two of its three events sold out months in advance of race day: the Marimurumendi Marathon (42km) and the Goierriko 2 Haundiak (88km). In addition, the 409  entries registered on Ehunmilak Ultra-Trail 168km also set a new high for the Basque hundred miles, whose technical terrain and D+11.000m climb make it even more demanding than the renowned Ultra-Trail du Mont Blanc de Chamonix. All in all, there were 1,200 runners, from 17 countries, benefiting from the enthusiastic care of 1,500 volunteers.

Supporters line the route to cheer on the runners all along the course. Photo: Mayayo

This was the eighth edition of Ehunmilak, establishing itself as an important ultra trail. It serves as a UTMB (6 points) and HardRock qualifier but more importantly, they provide a unique experience to every runner, combining a rigorous mountain challenge with the charm of reaching the summits of Txindoki and Aizkorri mountains, while enjoying at all times an incredible display of support and affection by the Basque fans who stay up in the mountains all way up, come hell or high water, to ensure runners feel support and appreciation all the way to the finish line.
This year’s race started during a heat wave that lashed the Goierri and fired thermometers up to 37ºC in Beasaín by the start of the race, at 6pm on Friday. Fortunately, the sky clouded over and the night brought us a temperature drop accompanied by fog and “txirimiri” rain drizzle that as well as cooling the runners off added a bit of charm when running through the rolling green hills, thick forests and steep ridges that mark the course through the natural Parks of Aralar first and then Aizkorri-Aratz.
This eighth edition brought success again for two of its greatest supporters: Javi Domínguez from team Vibram and Silvia Trigueros from Land. Both claimed victory in 2017, just as they did in 2016, but had to strive dearly for it. For Javier it was his fourth “txapela”, the basque beret that honours champions at  Beasaín, where he also set this year a new course record with 22h22m. At the start, he confirmed his record-setting goal and decided to us poles for the first time. However, the first checkpoint saw a surprising leader com through with Jon Aizpuru, the third man in 2016 who would go on to be his great rival throughout this 2017 race. Jon demonstrated a a great progression, running head-to-head with the great dominator of Ehunmilak, both offering their best performances to date while pushing themselves below record times. A small mistake by Javi in ​​the night fog set Jon to lead again in Tolosa after 77km. Javi managed again to regain first position but the time difference were less than ten minutes as we entered the last third of the race. It was not until the second iconic ascent of the race, running to the summit of Aizkorri peak among the heavy mist covered the limestone crest, that he finally put in a significant gap and was able to be confident of victory.  
He chose to fight on to the end in order to set a new record, and finally Javier Domínguez Ledo crossed the line in just 22h22s, dedicating his fourth victory and course record to the memory of Alberto Zerain, mountaineer recently deceased in Himalaya while climbing at Nanga Parbat. Behind him came a happy Jon Aizpuru with 23:14. Third place went to  another great veteran of Ehunmilak, Felipe Artigue, who knew how to run his own race from beginning to end, finishing in 23h53m.

Left: Javi Dominguez extends his lead at Aizkorri (photo: Pete Aylward), right: Silvia Trigueros take the victory (photo: Mayayo)

In the women's race, we saw the second edition of the great duel from 2016 between the Polish Ewa Majer from Salomon-Suunto and Silvia Trigueros from Land who had already won here five times, two in the hundred miles and another three for the 88km of G2H. Once again, as in 2016, Ewa Majer came out all guns blazing, putting herself in the lead right from the start. Meanwhile, Silvia Trigueros was following her at a short distance, until at the Tolosa checkpoint on km77 both arrived within a few seconds. After their departure, the race would be resolved as Silvia maintained her rhythm to keep on eating up miles, while Ewa suffered stomach problems that first relegated her to second place and then forced her abandonment.
Silvia then ran the whole second half of the race alone and went on to extend her advantage all the way to Beasain's finish line for her third win in this 168km with a time of 28h45. Veteran Elena Calvillo was second with 29h55, while Jone Urkizu closed the women's podium with 32h43, thus completing the fastest trio in the history of the race.
Goierriko 2 Haundiak, a great ultra that summits Txindoki and Aizkorri in 88km/D+6.000m
The most popular race of the event, this year had its current champion Dani Aguirre start out as the great favourite, aiming for the first ever sub10h time (his existing record was 10h09m). To that end, he made sure to arrive in magnificent form, while in the female field we had a more open race, with 2016 bronze Aitziber Osinalde favourite in most people’s eyes. 
Thus, Dani Aguirre from Land team, set a demanding pace from the start.  The gap he opened, however, was never too large. It was barely 2 minutes after the first 20km when around 1AM he parted the crowds formed by thousands of fans cheering under the rain at the tiny mountain village of Larraitz, in one of the most emotional moments of the course for any of its runners.
After him came a veteran Mikel Etxeberria who put on a great race, always keeping Dani on a short leash ahead, not allowing him to relax in the least. Miles passed by relentlessly for both until the last checkpoint at Mutiloa, barely 6km from the finish line saw 15 minutes between them. It was only after that point that Mikel finally let go a bit he and allowed the champion to broaden his final advantage. Dani Aguirre came in as champion for the second time, although his final time of 10h17 failed to beat his own 2016 record of 10:09. Mikel Etxeberría scored a brilliant 10h38 coming in second. After them, the third man at the podium was Gorka de la Horra in 10h54.
In the women´s race we did have different race leaders as the event progressed. In the first kilometers it was Monica Grajera ahead, with Oihane Pérez and Aitziber Osinalde in her pursuit. Nevertheless, the passage of the hours allowed the consistency of Aitziber to put her ahead, from where she would not let go until getting back to Beasaín with a final mark of 13h02m, bettering her third place mark from the previous year by 53 minutes. After her, Monica came in second with 13h16 while the bronze was for Mayi Mujika in 13h54.
Marimurumendi, a gorgeous mountain marathon on green rolling hills for 42km/D+2.300m.
This beautiful marathon reached its third edition as a sold out event from long months ago. The Polish Bartoscz Gorzcyka was the favourite at the start, despite having dedicated the previous day and night to supporting his partner Ewa in the hundred miles. As soon as the race began, the Salomon-Suunto runner was already in the lead, setting a pace that noone else was able to match.  
Bartoscz Gorczyca crossed the finish line in 3h39 as champion, but could not beat the 3h32 record set by local runner Aritz Egea back in 2016. Two young Catalan runners followed him to complete the podium, first an exhausted Aleix Bautista, who took 3h40 besting his mate Ruben Hernandez with 3h41.
The female marathon had also a Catalan runner upfront with Ester Casajuana from Raidlight as its great dominator, setting a time of 4h27, ahead of Oihana Arratzibel who was second with 4h38, and third was Amaiur Iglesias with 4h43.
Ehunmilak, three great mountain races for a unique mountain passion at the Basque Highlands
Before the start of this eighth Ehunmilak, the organisers of the event agreed to highlight the unstoppable growth of the event, both in numbers and attention to every detail that can make this race an unforgettable experience for runners. The constant support of the volunteers and the enthusiasm of all of Gipuzkoa, all the way along the hundred-mile race, along with the beauty and hardness of the tour through the green forests and valleys of the Goierri, as well as its iconic peaks of Tindoki and Azikorri, make this a unique race. Each year a faithful hardcore of fans return, and more and more debutantes come to discover this land for the first time and with them their traditions, music, gastronomy and a unique passion for the mountain!

To find out more about this incredible race go to www.ehunmilak.com or follow #Ehunmilak17

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