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Celebrating the basque language

Large-scale gatherings and festivals are frequently held to promote the Basque language; many also raise money to fund the running costs of organisations working to develop Basque, especially for teachers. They are all evidence of society's involvement in the common effort for the recovery and standardisation of the language. They have grown to become the largest collective expressions of support for Basque language and culture.

329. The Korrika is a popular run to support Basque, organised by AEK, the coordinator of adult Basque written language skills and language learning centres. The initiative, which takes the form of a marathon run, with runners passing on a baton, covers the entire territory of the Basque country over ten days and ten nights. It is a biannual initiative which attracts thousands of individuals, associations and public and private companies and institutions, all for the purpose of raising funding for the Coordinator. Participants run in one-kilometre stages which they have previously purchased. The price of a kilometre varies depending on the time and place: A stretch on Bilbao's Gran Via does not cost the same as one on an unpopulated road between two mountain villages. 330. The Korrika is organised to increase awareness among the public and to raise funds for the euskaltegis –Basque schools for adults – run by AEK. Since it was launched in 1980, there have been 17 editions. The route is different each time, but it always covers the whole of the Basque Country. In 2009, the Korrika covered 2,000 kilometres. 331. In recent years similar races —though on a smaller scale— have been held in Barcelona, Madrid, Mexico, Argentina, the US, Beijing and Hong Kong, organised by the Euskal Etxeak (Basque Centres) in support of the Basque language. 332. The 16th Korrika passes through San Sebastian. 333. The first Korrika was held in 1980. The baton set out from the University of Oñati, carried beneath the snow by Jose Maria Satrustegi, then General Secretary of the Academy of the Basque Language. Around 600,000 people took part in the 15th Korrika in 2007. 334. In each edition, the Korrika pays tribute to leading figures of social and cultural life for their contribution to the Basque language. In 2009 the run paid homage to the many families who had come to the Basque Country in search of employment and a better life and adopted Basque as their language. 335. Town by town, by day and by night, people wait in every town land and at every roadside to join the participants and run alongside them. This means that along the way, the sense of social involvement is constantly being refreshed. 336. Baton used in the Korrika, created by the sculptor Remigio Mendiburu. 337. Inspired by the concept of the Korrika, other relay runs are held elsewhere in Europe in support of various languages: In Brittany, ar Redadeg, first held in 2008, covers the five Breton departments. In Ireland, Rith, the race to support the Irish language, was first held in 2010. In Catalonia, Correllengua is a campaign for raising awareness of the Catalan language, which has been held every year since 1996. In Galicia, Correlingua (2000) is an initiative in defence of the Galician language which combines several runs. 338. Other large-scale events to support the Basque language are organised each year by the ikastolas, to help finance running costs, staff fees and facilities. The first Kilometroak was held in Beasain- Lazkao in 1977. This is a fiesta to raise funds with performances, music and activities, centring around a walking event. It is now organised each year by one of the Gipuzkoan ikastolas. The model has spread and the ikastolas of each territory organise their own celebrations. They generally attract huge crowds, and feature leading figures from the world of art, sport, politics and culture. 339. Ibilaldia is the fiesta of the Biscay ikastolas, and was first held in Getxo in 1978, organised by the Uribe ikastolas. 340. Araba Euskaraz is organised in Alava during the month of June. It was first staged in Vitoria in 1981. 341. In Navarre, the first Nafarroa Oinez was held in 1981 in Alsasua, and was attended by a crowd of 30,000. Recent editions have attracted numbers approaching a hundred thousand. 342. Herri Urrats has been held at the Senpere lake since 1984. It is organised by the ikastolas of Labourd, Lower Navarre and Soule. The money collected goes to support the 27 Centres, which are run as a cooperative, financed by the families. 343. The Basque Public Schools hold a large yearly festival to support education in Basque, organised since 1991 by EHIGE, the confederation of school parents' associations of the Basque Autonomous Community.
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