As winter is coming with huge steps (even if we don’t want to belive so) and it’s already end of the trailrunning-season here in Europe, it is not so easy to find a proper race in a nice landscape, with a challenging course, a competitive field and not too difficult to reach.
After the Transalpine Run 6 weeks ago I didn’t want to end my year without finding out if I had already found back to old strengh. Luckily I got invited for a weekend-trip to the Bask Country to take part at the second edition of the Gorbeia Suzien race. Despite my studies at the university need a lot of time, it would have been a shame not to take the chance :-).
Some travel information
Zeanuri, the small village where the race takes place, is just 30km away from Bilbao. As this is one of the three capitals of the Bask Country (2.7 Million inhabitants) it’s very accessible by plane from all over Europe. One of the very interesting things about the area is Euskera, the Bask language. Whereas most of the European languages are related in some ways with Latin, this one in insulated and totally different. A lot of “x”, “z”, “k” and “y” letters made sometimes quite difficult for me to spell a word, almost no way of remembering any expressions! The Bask have always wanted to be independent from Spain – like plenty of smaller regions, e.g. the Catalans, Kingdom Bavaria ;-),… – and until some years ago the ETA (Bask underground force) tried to reach this with violent attacks. But nowadays there is no risk anymore…
Trailrunning like in a picture-book
Now enough background information, back to the REALLY important things 😉
The race course is a little bit less than 30km long and about 2.000 altimeters have to be run up and down. From Zeanuri it starts with a 11km long ascent to the highest point, the Gorbeia cross (1484m), where the very strong wind from the sea almost made us flying away (ok, we mountainrunners don’t have a lot of weight). Thinking that the downhill is just down was a very big mistake as there are two bigger a lot of small hills left – all taking much energy and very hurting! The terrain is very varied: very steep grassy slopes (here it’s better to speed-hike), a few fast dirtroad sections, videogame-like downhills in oak forests and muddy parts (danger of losing the shoes) – it never gets boring!
What a support!
Even it was just the second edition, about 1000 participants made the loop, connecting all the nice spots around the iconic 18m iron cross. In seven food stations (with tooooo many good things ;-)) we could refil energy and it made it more easy for the hikers so “survive”. On the race day a lot of side events heppended in the village and I guess that all the residents helped in some way: movies from and with the Spanish climbing legends Pou brothers, slackline demo, kids climbing, traditional music and dance, “pasta-party-barbecue” (a whole cow was grilled!), massage,… The atmosphere was awesome (yes, it’s the Spanish “hot blood”) and there were really a lot of spectators cheering all over the place. The organization made an excellent job not only on the race!
It was ok
My competition was not very good but also not very bad. As the race was very fast, I could follow the guys in the uphills but in the downhills it was not possible. I don’t know if I run down that bad or the others so much more better… Ok, as two runners crashed in front of me so hard that they had to stop and the emergency staff had to help them, I didn’t want to push more. One of my excuses is that the field was very good – Miguel Heras, Miguel Caballero and my TAR partner Tofol just to name a few. Some more speedwork and “switch-out-your-brain-and-run-down-like-hell” training and I need to return…
Ending the weekend with a sightseeing trip to Bilbao was the icing of the cake. I have just seen the Guggenheim Museum from a James Bond movie 🙂
Here is my move of the race.