Monday, 21 May 2012

Zegama and the Hoopla Around The American Invasion of Skyrunning

Kilian winning Zegama. Photo: Bryon Powel of irunfar from his website

This is a just a quick post before I leave Zegama but I think all the Americans (and Brits tagging along) thoroughly enjoyed the experience of running the Transvulcania 83k on the Canaries (off Africa - very hot and humid) and the Zegama Marathon (in the Spanish Pyrenees - very wet, snowy and muddy). The details of the races have been out in the interweb in minute detail thanks to irunfar, Talk Ultra and Ultra168, so I won't go into that too much. But with how slippery Zegama was, I felt very Spanish after a slide down a hill left me with a grassy arse (say it out loud and you'll get what I mean).

It was fun to see what the Skyrunning guys do and to see really European-style races with huge amounts of vert and more technical running than back in the US. In fact, the mud, rain and snow of Zegama made me feel like I was on a fell run in northern England...just wish I'd had some fell shoes with me.

The sport is clearly progressing and becoming more media-friendly and I see no problem there. It got a bit much sometimes to have cameras and microphones everywhere but it still boiled down to two very hard races and some excellent competition and scenery. There's always going to be a place for big and small races alike and the nature of the sport means it'll never reach the hoopla around the main US or European sports. Maybe closer to cycling but probably still limited too much by courses and entrant levels to make it go as far down that road.

It comes down to this - it'll never be a sport of millionaires and the training and commitment it takes to run mountain ultras is so huge that only people who genuinely love it will even consider it. Doing it just for the money just doesn't seem realistic to me...ever.

So back to reality for a while now before the US has it's own mini-media frenzy at Western States. I can't wait to run there again!


  1. Enjoyed watching (listening) to the performances Ian. Solid performances considering your a self confessed non-mountain runner, I bet everyone ahead of you and most behind you tend to run more vert. It seems to be the technical terrain that really beat up the americans? Just an observation though. Are you still heading our way for northants ultra?

  2. Awesome stuff man. Glad to hear that you had fun over there. Rip it up at states.