Esther Ciganda

Apr 1, 2022

Korrika 101: A quick lesson about the longest relay in the world to promote one of the oldest languages in the world

Do you know where the longest relay race in the world occurs?

It occurs in the Basque Country. A small region found in the northern part of Spain and in the southern part of France. The first Korrika event took place in 1980. Today, March 31, 2022, the 22nd Korrika kicked off.

Why is this important? 

Because it brings awareness to a minority language and promotes the continued use of the language. Basque is not only a minority language but an isolate language that needs to be preserved.

In the 20th Century, the Basque language took a hit during the dictatorship and the number of Basque speakers diminished. But through the efforts of passionate Basque supporters, Korrika was created as a fundraiser for Basque language academies and to support the use of one of the oldest and most mysterious languages in the world.

Here’s a quick summary about Korrika:

WHO?  Supporters of the Basque language not only in the Basque Country but worldwide in the Basque Diaspora and Euskal Etxeak (Basque houses).

WHAT?  Korrika is a non-stop running event. It’s non-competitive and the participants run together in a festive environment including music. 

WHEN?  It takes place in the spring usually every two years and lasts 11 days without stopping.

WHERE?  It takes place in the 7 historic Basque provinces.  This year starting in Alaba and ending in Gipuzkoa. The race covers around 1500 miles or 2500 kilometers.

WHY?  The purpose of Korrika is to raise funds for the language learning centers created by AEK. But an even bigger benefit is the awareness it creates for the Basque Country, the Basque people, and the Basque language. 

What can you do?

  • If you live in the Basque Country, I recommend participating. The energy is electric with everyone running together to the beat of the music all in support of the Basque language.

  • If you live outside the Basque Country, look for Euskal Etxeak in your area and see if they’re running a Korrika.  Or look on the Korrika website:  https://www.korrika.eus/eu/korrika-munduan to see if there are events near you.

  • For beginning Basque language learners outside of the Basque Country, sign up for the Korrika Challenge.  Every day I’m adding information about Korrika and ways for you to learn more about Korrika and the Basque language.  To sign up go to:  www.estherciganda.com/22korrika

The Korrika Challenge for 2022

Do your part! Languages are part of our history, our culture. They're our heritage.

Accept the challenge:

Orain da hizkuntzen unea. Now is the time for languages.

Esther Ciganda

Multilingual + Multipassionate Veteran Teacher writing about my pivot to Edupreneur | Daughter of Basque Immigrants & Farmers | Podcaster | 🧠 tumor survivor