Zegama Winner: Yngvild Kaspersen Interview

While Ultra168 is mainly focused on the Australia and New Zealand racing scene, we like to spread our wings and cover some of the major international races too. Zegama is about as good as it gets for pure raw mountain running over in Spain, and we’re delighted to have Pol Puig from the dedicated mountain running website, corredordemontana.com contributing for us occasionally.

Pol is no stranger to life down under having spent some time in Queenstown in 2015, racing up a number of races to his list of events in New Zealand.

If you followed the recent race at Zegama, you’ll know there was a pretty big upset in the ladies race with marathon debut runner, Yngvild Kaspersen from Norway taking out the line honours. In this article, Pol speak with Yngvild to get a little more insight into her win.

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If winning in your marathon debut is already difficult, imagine doing it in the mythical Zegama’s marathon. The young Norwegian Yngvild Kaspersen won the most wanted “Txapela” (traditional Basque-style beret) in front of more experienced female runners like Megan Kimmel and Oihana Kortazar. In this interview, she tells us how was her experience in Zegama.

You got the most wanted Txapela! Congratulations for winning Zegama! Few runners can say that. How would you describe your victory in Zegama? How do you feel about it?

Thank you so much!

I didn’t expect this victory, so I am surprised but very very happy! It is a big dream coming true. It is hard to put words on it, but it means so much to me!

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Zegama is Zegama! Most runners would like to run Zegama for its atmosphere. Even with Sunday’s weather, runners found people cheering them all the way along during the whole marathon. What were the sensations you had during the race?

I love the cheering and the atmosphere of Zegama! It gives so much energy and motivation, and I just want to give my all! I never take the cheering for granted, but appreciate everyone who took the time to cheer me on!

It was an amazing feeling to run through all the people in Zegama! I was running with goosebumps, and there so much cheering I couldn’t even hear my own breath!

Runners are saying that this was one of the hardest editions of Zegama due to the weather. Especially at Aratz summit and the mountain ridge after Aizkorri summit. A lot of runners couldn’t finish the race because of these conditions.  Still, you said you actually enjoyed running in these conditions, right? Did you have any problems with the weather?

Haha yes I enjoyed the conditions! Maybe it’s because it’s  similar to the conditions I am used to at home, up in the north of Norway. At Aratz, my hands were freezing and I remember I thought that I wished I had gloves, but except for that I didn’t have any problems.

Female runners such as Oihana Kortazar, Azahara, Maite Maiora and Megan are really strong. What was your strategy during the race? Did you run trying to follow them or did you just run following your own sensations?

I didn’t have a strategy, I was just running on a good feeling! This was important to me; to make my first marathon as a good experience as possible and to just enjoy the race. I knew these runners were strong and that they had more experience than me in long distance races. So I just ran and listened to my body, setting my own pace as I didn’t want to push too hard in the beginning of the race.02.06.16_Yngvild_402.06.16_Yngvild_3

If I’m right, this was the first marathon you’ve done. Did you feel comfortable with this distance?

Yes, it was my first marathon and I felt good! The race was a really good experience for me, so for sure I want to do more distances like this!

Zegama was just the starting point of your season. In which races will we see you competing in this season?

Next race is the 23K in Mont Blanc Marathon. Then I will do some more races in the Skyrunning World Series, like Dolomites, The Rut, Limone. And there will be other races too!

Do you think that coming from Norway is an advantage for trail runners?  How do people feel about practising this sport where you live?

For sure Norway is a nice place for trail running, but I think it’s more about how you use the terrain around where you live. After travelling I think that most places have somewhere to practice trail running, it’s just about getting yourselves out there. The sport is not very big here in Norway, but it is growing and that is good!

Finally, any advice for girls who are starting out for the first time?

Don’t put too much pressure on yourself, find your motivation and make it simple. Just go out there and explore the trails!

 

Pol Puig
Pol Puig is a writer from Barcelona and a member of the Corredor de Montaña’s website. ( www.corredordemontana.com), one of the top mountain running websites in Spain.

As a writer from Corredor de Montaña’s team, Pol writes on the Spanish mountain running scene, but knows life down under well having lived in Queenstown during the 2015. He's the Ultra Easy, the Routeburn and the Shotover Marathon in Queenstown.

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