Iker Karrera Trail Runner

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The high level route between Chamonix and Zermatt was first charted in 1861 by members of the British Alpine Club, who originally completed it on foot. With the growth in popularity of skiing, it became popular as a ski tour and came to be known as the ‘Haute Route’, and later as the Chamonix-Zermatt. It is undeniably one of the most classic routes in the Alps. It is a type of crossing, uniting two of the most important nuclei in the history of mountaineering: Chamonix and Zermatt, and thus Mont Blanc and the Matterhorn. Most people attempt the ‘Haute Route’ in order to enjoy its breathtaking mountain scenery. However, over the years others have felt drawn to the ‘Route’ in order to put themselves and their limits to the test. For them, the ‘Route’ has provided not only scenery, but acted as judge and arbitrator of such challenges.
All of this was enough to capture my imagination and fuel my dreams. It was sufficient to provide me with another challenge: that of trying to complete the Haute Route Chamonix-Zermatt, the original route, running non-stop and, as far as possible, all alone and in less than 24 hours. At that time, no one had ever attempted this particular challenge.
Just to provide a few facts about the Route: it is 115 km long, involves 15,500 metres of cumulative elevation gain, and crosses 12 glaciers and two mountain passes of over 3600m.
The style in which I wanted to take on the ‘Route’ involved the maximum level of self-sufficiency possible, if that is the correct way of describing it. It involved not having any external help whatsoever which had been specifically arranged just for me. I would be able to use those aids which already existed on the route, such as the mountain shelters and any services available in the towns and villages along the way… This was a very important factor for me, because it represented the best way of doing things. In my opinion, it was the best way to tackle, feel, live through and measure my own capabilities and the real dimension of the ‘Route’. From my point of view, it was the best way of honouring the ‘Route’, and of being honest with it.
The 25th July 2012 was the day chosen to take on this challenge. At 7:30 p.m. I set off from the church car park in Chamonix, and at 4:50 p.m. on the 26th of July I arrived at the church square in Zermatt, setting a time of 21 hours and 20 minutes. I firmly believe that by completing this challenge, in addition to fulfilling one of my own dreams, I succeeded in setting a new benchmark in mountaineering. More importantly than my time, than the number of hours and minutes, the facts and figures etc., the true value of the challenge lies in imagining and believing in the capability of humans to overcome the existing limits by taking action to set a new and more challenging benchmark, a benchmark which did not previously exist. This is just one single benchmark on one of the many routes that exist in the mountain way of life.




In 2011, halfway through the racing season, I felt the need to get closer to the mountains, in a more intimate and personal way. I felt the need to escape from the rules and regulations of racing, from the ‘comfort zone’ which goes with it, from having more or less everything under control. What really appealed to me was running with only the minimum necessary, without the aid of any signposts apart from those which are already there. Running across the three highest peaks in the Pyrenees was an idea which fascinated me. Moreover, I thought that it would be a good way of training for the Mont Blanc Ultra Trail. A more or less official record time did exist for doing this, which was set by two Basque runners who did it in around 30 hours many years ago. However, back then the concept of Ultra Trails was still a long way off.
In the middle of July, with only Idoia and the judge who was responsible for officiating the event for company, I set off from the car park in Besurta, in the Benasque Valley. I successfully completed my run in 16 hours and 53 minutes, finishing in the car park at Ordesa. I still have the paper which was stamped by the shelters found along the route as a souvenir, together with many images which are etched on my find forever.




In 2006, in the middle of the racing season and in order to break a little from the routine of competing, I set myself this challenge. I wanted to do something for myself, something that I enjoy. I had heard about the record existed for running from the village of Torla to Monte Perdido (the Lost Mountain), running up and down this mountain and running back to Torla.
On the 30th of July at 6:30 a.m. I set off from the Guardia Civil barracks in Torla with a pennant that they had given me to prove that I had been there. I had to take a photo of it at the summit and then come back down. I set a new record of 4 hours and 48 minutes.





In 2004 I set myself a fresh challenge, one I had been thinking about for quite a while. It involved breaking the record for the number of times someone has run up and down Mount Txindoki in 24 hours. On more than one occasion my friends had told me that I couldn’t break this record, but actions speak louder than words. This was all about achieving something on “my” mountain, and it represented more than just a sporting challenge. This was something personal between me and the mountain. The previous record was 8 times. On the 31st July, which was a dreadfully hot day, I ran up and down Txindoki 11 times.




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Reto Pirineo Iker Karrera

Reto Monte perdido Iker karrera

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