Picture: Aritz Gordo

If you follow mountain running, Skyrunning in particular, and you are reading the result lists carefully, you have to identify this man. Not set-up with huge media attentiveness and industry push, this guy has an incredible talent and regularly displays it when the party really goes down.

Aritz Egea is a bloody polite bloke and some talent of a competitor. His race Palmares unquestionably has style and the Mondragon University electronic scientist is keen for even more. But how can you not be if you just life about 20 kilometres away from running dreamland Zegama?

Q: It happens in the Skyrunning circuit that fairly anonymous runners are big in the media without even producing the worthwhile results. You on the other hand seem to be high up the ranks when it happens on race-day but do not get the earned attention. What do you think is the reason?
AE: I don´t really know the answer for your question, I guess is due to marketing strategies. It´s true that sometimes I have that perception that some runners that have worse results than me get more attention and race invitations. Anyway it is a thing that does not really bother me. I just run because I love it. However, I have to mention that I´m very grateful with the attention received from my main sponsors, the Basque team, Ternua and Inov-8. I don´t want to be a professional trail runner. I´m happy if running does not cost me money.

Q: Basque names are pretty easy to spot. I recall your name in some Ironman result lists back in 2010. You placed 29th at the Ironman competition in Regensburg (Germany), secured your Hawaii slot there and then went on to finish 111th on the Big Island finishing with a 9:22:07. After that you converted to running only and mostly up and down mountains. Why?
AE: This is a question that everybody asks me. Hawaii was the main goal of my triathlete career, so once I reached it, I couldn’t find a motivational target. The feelings I had on the finish line in Hawaii were magnificent and unrepeatable. So after Hawaii I started a new triathlon season but after winning some races and some other good performances I decided to quit. It took me only one week to focus on my next goal: Zegama-Aizkorri. So this race is the main reason of being a mountain runner. I am in debt with this race and Ainhoa Txurruka (Zegama-Aizkorri race director) for giving me the opportunity of discovering this unique sport. I´m enjoying as never, I love this drug!

Picture: Aritz Gordo

Q: 39 – 10 – 10 should be a very distinct number grouping for you. Can you clarify?
AE: Oh yes! Those numbers are my ranks in Zegama the last three years (this is my third year as a trail runner). Anyway I prefer: 4:38, 4:17, 4:00, that are my times. If I follow this progression next year I will do about, 3:45! (Laughs…) Talking seriously I think that at Zegama-Aizkorri, time is more important than the position. The position depends a lot on who is coming to compete, but time is a real mirror of your performance.

Q: Personally I’m a massive fan of the Basque country. The mounts and the climate are very, very exceptional and distinctive. The people are an exceptional bread and I immediately feel like home when I’m around. As a spot-on Basque, what do you think makes this part of the world so special?
AE: In my opinion it is just down to the Basque people. We are not better or worse than anyone else, but somehow we have something special. We even have a millenary language that no one knows where it comes from! They say that at the first contact we are some kind of cold people, but once you have a Basque friend, this friendship will last forever. In addition I have to mention that our culture is very linked to the mountain, we don´t have high mountains but we have plenty of mountains around 1.000m, and usually with quite wet weather. I can affirm with no doubt that what we can feel around Zegama the day of the mountain marathon is the biggest thing for a mountain runner. No matter the weather, there will be thousands of people on the mountains.

Picture: Aritz Gordo

Q: You are looking forward to another season in the mountains. This spell you placed 11th at the Skyrunning Worlds in Limone and you finished the Skyrunning series in 6th place. What is the main goal for next season?
AE: Again the world Skyrunning series and particularly Zegama (as you can see I´m quite obsessed with this race). I will also make a longer race about 60km and maybe a race with more than one day. It could be the beginning of the jump to ultra-distance. I think 100 miles would be too much, but in 2-3 years I would like to run 80-100km races. We will see.

Q: Could you describe a normal training week?
AE: First of all I have to mention that Jokin Lizeaga is the man that guides me with my training. As I have a work and now a family to attend I don´t have too much time to train so my week training hours are between 8 and 11 hours. As an example:

Monday: Bike 1-1.5 hours (usually recover)
Tuesday: Rest day
Wednesday: “Long” intervals on the mountain: 3x8min with 6 min rest. (about 1.25hours)
Thursday: Road running, between 12-18km, usually with some 5-8min intervals. (between 1-1.3hours)
Friday: “Short” intervals on the mountain: 10x2min with 1.5min rest. (about 1.25hours)
Saturday: 2.5-3.5 hours on the mountain
Sunday: 2 hours of mountain, with 2-4 10min intervals.

Q: What is your favourite tune at the moment?
AE: I mostly listen Basque rock. Now one of my favourites is the band Berri Txarrak.
 I would just like to add that it would be a pleasure for me to run someday in Germany or Austria, you have a lot of incredible spots there!

Picture: Aritz Gordo