Aztiriko Mendi Lasterketa Trail Race 2017

10 Things I Think About the Aztiriko Mendi Lasterketa Trail Race

1. Facebook

I think Facebook has made finding races on holidays so easy, all you need is a date, some idea of the location and the willingness to send random messages to people you don't know with the hope that they'll reply. If they reply you're sorted. It's great really. If only it was this easy for everything else.

2. 93 puntos Guia Penin 2017

I think that drinking wine the night before a race is very bad. I normally don't drink wine as in Ireland it's too dear and tastes of metal. In Spain it's different. We went to a restaurant called Ikatiz last night where the waitress recommended a Tempranillo, apparently it got 93 points in the Guia Penin 2017 which is extraordinary. It was very nice and very cheap. I think I'll drink more wine. I don't think it will affect my running.

3. Euskara

I think the google maps lady can't speak euskara. She was pronouncing all those places from Donostia to Aztiria with Xs and Zs all wrong. I'm pretty much fluent in euskara after learning it from Oliver on the walking tour yesterday. I have been tormenting every shopkeeper with "kaixo" and "eskerrik asko" ever since. It's a great language, it feels natural to me. Perhaps I'm actually Basque. Tiocfaidh ár lá and all that.

4. Parking

I think we upset the Basque man with our first attempt at parking. I just drove right up to the start. When he saw us he directed us towards a barricade. I didn't think that was a good idea having already scratched the rental car so I didn't move. Then he walked up to the window and started speaking Spanish to me, I only understand euskara so I didn't understand. I think he wanted us to go away. Eventually a nice lady showed up and got one of the locals to move his van so we could park. They are very nice people in Aztiria.

5. Favourite

I think the locals thought I was actually good at trail running. I did my warm up with two local guys who I impressed with my euskara, "nire izena Donal da, I'm not from England, Irlandakoa naiz". It's very important not to be English in Spain. They said that I was the favourite for the race. It must have been because of my haircut. I wasn't very confident.

6. I'm from Navarre

I think they secretly knew I wasn't a trail runner. I treated the start like I do any other race and just tore off like it was a 5k, this was fine as the first 200m were flat on a gravel road. After 200m a guy came up beside me kind of half laughing at me and asked where I was from, I said Cork, he understood, I asked where he was from he said Navarre, then the downhills started. That was the end of my leading as the Basques proceeded to fearlessly fall downhill with reckless abandon. I was terrified.

7. Donal Coffey

I think Donal Coffey would have beaten me today. He does IMRA races the whole time. I felt pathetic on some of the technical downhill sections, with auld Basques flying by me left and right. I was much better on the uphill and road sections, but these didn't make up for my walking down the hills like an old man with a dodgy ankle.

8. ánimo

I think ánimo is my new favourite word. I love the way crowds cheer for you in foreign countries. You'd get tired of "well done boi" or "go on lad" back home. The "allez allez" in France is fantastic as is the "venga, venga" in Spain. The crowd today had a new one "ánimo, ánimo". I think it means keep going or animate yourself. It sounds particularly good in a female voice.

9. Kilian Jornet

I think I'm not made for trail running. I ended up finishing about 10th from the 58 starters. This was the biggest number ever for the race, I probably helped. I asked the guy from Navarre how he got on, he won, this didn't surprise me. He said the course wasn't that technical, this amazed me. I'd hate to see a technical course. Then we talked about Kilian Jornet and agreed that he's mad and brilliant.

10. Best Spread Ever

I think the spread after the race was the best ever. They had beautiful fresh bread, gorgeous jamon iberico, olives, water, cider and wine. No rubbish. I don't think this would work in Ireland, people would complain.

Eskerrik asko Miren and Ioritz. What a great race.