In 1943, a small group of athletics fans, then involved in the Elgoibar Sports Club, helped set up the Juan Muguerza Cross Country Memorial, in honour of the outstanding middle, long and cross country athlete who gained international status together with another distinguished athlete from Elgoibar, Ignacio Izaguirre.
Juan Muguerza Sasieta was born in Elgoibar (Gipuzkoa) on 6 May 1900 and died during the bombing near Mungia in 1937. At the age of 17, he was proclaimed Spanish champion in the 1500 and 5000 metres and retained both titles until 1922, when he was sent to fight in the North Africa war. He also won the Spanish Championship in 800 and 110 metres hurdles and was a member of the Gipuzkoa relay team which was Spanish champion. In 1921, he won 4 titles in the Spanish Championships held in Galicia and, in that same year, another athlete from Elgoibar, Ignacio Izaguirre, won another 4 Spanish titles (standing long jump, weight, disc and javelin).
For the first few years, the event was of a regional nature and the first 7 editions were held during the local festivities of Saint Bartholomew, in August. The course, a foot trail, ran on paths linking farmhouses in the nearby mountains. At the beginning of the nineteen fifties, the event was moved to the month of January and was held in the Lerun football pitch and vicinity until 1992. Gripping cross-country history was made in this terribly difficult, often criticized, though unforgettable, circuit.
In 1963, its organisation was taken over by the Egotoki Athletic Club, and it was from then on that it began to gain international status with participants like Wolde, Stewart, Haro, Kuha, Batty, Fowler, Mc.Leod, Lopes, Jones, Ngugi, etc. The Egotoki Club was the meeting point on the eve of the event. It opened its corporate premises in 1958 and it is here that the association’s pet, Anbolo the parrot, has been living for its over 35 years entertaining the company with its cheek. In 1981, all participants having already arrived in Elgoibar, the race had to be suspended because of heavy snow. Olympic, world and European champions have strolled down the town’s narrow, damp streets signing autographs.
Since 1993 the cross country event has been held in the Mintxeta sports district, so far, 58 editions. The club was awarded a commendation by the Basque Government on the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of the cross country event.
The 58th edition was the last organized by the EGOTOKI Athletic Club, which passed the baton to the MINTXETA ATLETISMO TALDEA, together with the Sports Board and Elgoibar Town Council.
Having handed over to MINTXETA ATLETISMO TALDEA, we were honoured to receive the Rufino Gorrotxategi award from the Regional Government of Gipuzkoa in 2003 for organizing the Juan Muguerza cross country championship as the best sports event of the year.
In the 2012 edition, our event was included in the EAA category of the European Athletics Association, which meant that it was considered the 4th best cross country event in the calendar of the Royal Spanish Athletics Federation.
At the 2015 edition and for the first time in history, our cross country event will be included in the official calendar of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), the highest category open to cross country championships around the world.