Last Sundays 15th running of the fabled Zegama-Aizkorri Mendi Maratoiaren was nothing short of being spectacular. Yet again the striking Basque Country in the western Pyrenees presented one of the biggest spectacles mountain running has to offer.
Another year saw one more top-notch field that took on the renowned 42 kilometres through the Aizkorri national park. While Kilian Jornet won the race again and cemented his legend status, there were some surprises along the way. One was Swedish Ski-Mountaineer and mountain runner André Jonsson. On his first attempt he scored a 10th place in cold and unforgiving conditions. Remarkable.
Born, raised and based in a small Swedish ski resort close to the Norwegian border called Storlien (60 kilometres west of Åre), he impressed with a clever and fast run. I asked André some questions about his most recent excursion in the Basque Country.
RUNssel: A top 10 finish on your first Zegama shot is very impressive. How did the competition unfold for you? Did you had a special race tactic?
André Jonsson: I started pretty easy and then pushed harder after half way. Didn’t feel so strong uphill but had a good flow in the downhills and technical parts so I advanced there.
RUNssel: Did you train on the course before the race?
André: Just the last 5-6km the day before. I ran with Norwegian Eirik Haugsnes (Comment: By now Eirik raced this race four times) who gave me a lot of info on how the course would look like.
RUNssel: Looking back, what was the roughest part of the day?
André: Definitely the ridge half way into the race. It was really cold up there, the hands were like bricks. While you were freezing you also had to focus on the technical terrain. But apparently that suited me. I advanced several positions there.
RUNssel: How would you describe the scramble through the wild crowds at Sancti Spiritu?
André: Just unbelievable, comparable with the Tour de France when they ascent Alpe d’Huez. Now I think I know how the cyclists are feeling.
RUNssel: How did you get ready for the distinctive Zegama-Aizkorri course? Any key workouts?
André: No special training really. I just ended the ski season and still have a lot of snow at home. Just trying to find trails that are not covered with snow is a challenge these days.
RUNssel: Each year the right shoe is a point of discussion between the athletes. What shoe did you use during that murky excursion?
André: I ran the Inov-8 X-Talon 212 and they were just perfect.
RUNssel: You started your running season with a true highlight. What is next for you during the summer?
André: It will be the Ultra Skymarathon on Madeira island next weekend. Hopefully I will be recovered enough by then.
RUNssel: What is your preferred record at the moment?
André: Currently I’m listening to the Swedish band Rallypack’s album “Sod Off, God! We Believe In Our Rockband”. These days the band is called Lillasyster instead.
RUNssel: Thanks a lot a lot for taking the time to answer all the question. Best of luck for the upcoming season.