Maite Maiora

Maite Maiora. No surrender.

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This season has been one of the best in my life not only at a title or race position level, but emotionally. It has been a great year with fantastic trips. As I always say, it seems that all the stars have aligned. But not all years have been like this. My sporting life has been very bittersweet. It has been like a wave. One day I’m up, one day I´m down. Indeed, I have been very depressed too.

Of all the injuries I´ve suffered, the worst was the stress fracture in the femur. It coincided with a shoulder operation. It was horrible because at first we didn´t know what it was. The pain I felt in the race was attributed to my shoulder posture. I started to think I would never be able to run again in my life. I also thought that if that happened, I would do it by bike or whatever, that I would continue in the sport, but the truth is that I started to forget about running”.

When we chatted with Maite in March of 2016, in a cafeteria in Elgoibar [Basque Country], about her serious stress fracture injury of the femur, she could only think about putting on the race bib of her most treasured race: Zegama Aizkorri. She had been out for several months and there were still a few weeks left. I knew she was about to leave that nightmare behind, in which she told us that the worst part had been the uncertainty of not knowing the cause of those terrible pains, and especially, not knowing if she would ever be able to run again. Just over a year and a half later, Maite can look back at a season in which she was proclaimed Extreme World Cup champion (ISF World Series), Overall World Cup champion (ISF World Series), winner of Zegama Aizkorri Maratoia, Ultra Pirineu, Tromso SkyRace, Royal Ultra SkyMarathon Gran Paradiso, Livigno SkyMarathon, KV Fuente Dé, KV Arredondo (Spanish Championship); runner-up in the CCC (UTMB), in the Ibiza Trail Marathon, and in the KV of Zegama; and third in Red Bull K3. Really spectacular.

“From the injuries I´ve learned to look at things differently. Before, when I was injured, I took it really badly and thought those things only happened to me. Nowadays I realize that´s not true, and when they tell me I have to stop because of an injury, I start thinking about how I can resolve it and look forward”.

I would dare to say that Maite´s words are a result of that injury we discussed in Elgoibar. She had no other choice. She went through a really rough time. “I missed a bus because I was unable to run. I was left staring at it. The bus was there at the stop and… I don´t know, if you run a little he´ll see you and stop, but I couldn´t. So long!” She told us this anecdote with a smile on her face. But it wasn´t one of happiness, rather one of those smirks after having gone through something really bad and when you can see the end is almost there. Maite had no choice but to mature, sportingly speaking, based on huge ups and downs. This process of accepting an injury and immediately looking for solutions is undoubtedly one that people go through with great strength and courage, as we titled that article of April 2016.

“On a mental level I need a lot of positive energy and someone by my side like Iosu. On my own, it would be very difficult. I don´t think I have that strength”.

 

Maite refers to her partner. Iosu Juaristi is an optimistic. Or at least tries to give that impression. This year at Ultra Pirineu, sitting next to him at the finish line waiting for Maite, he looked nervous. Extremely. Everyone commented that the gap between Maite and Nuria Picas was increasing, but he was not going to relax until she appeared with a big smile, breaking the tape and pointing her finger at him to let everyone know that this victory was also his. Maite gets a lot of support from Iosu. I remember that before going to Elgoibar in 2016, he posted a photo on social media where Maite, tagged, was going out to train on the bike. Iosu, tried to use his humor so that his girl would laugh despite being unable to run.

“The fact of having had these injuries, on a sporting level, makes me feel calmer and have more peace. I know that just being on the starting line is quite a triumph and that from there, whatever happens will be welcome”.

 

Whoever knows a bit about Maite, knows that these are not empty words. She seems to take things little by little. She enjoys each and every success because she knows that luck, or better said bad luck, can come at any time in the form of an injury. In May 2016 I went to Zegama. Maite was able to put on the bib as she predicted in that cafe. She ran the vertical and won it. At the finishing line, when she saw me, she said: “You see Juanmi! Little by little. I told you I´d run the vertical and here I am.” To top it off, she had won.

“After everything I’ve been through, a friend gave me some bracelets where it says “no surrender”. This year, when I´ve had weak moments or when I´ve been close to injuring myself, I´ve looked at them and taken those words as my own. That is my motto forever”.

 

You don´t need to promise us anything, Maite. Stay strong. And take courage, World champion.

 

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