The struggle of the Welsh language is a world-wide with many other languages and nations facing similar challenges. It’s important that we are open to learn from the experience of other Celtic and ‘small’ nations.
Ras yr Iaith is based on other very successful runs – it’s now out time. Our run, like theirs, will be held ever second year. However, unlike the Basque and Breton runs we will not run throughout the night, but rather, like the Irish ‘rith’ will run during mostly daylight hours. Korrika, Redadeg and Rith mean ‘a run’. There are many clips and more information on their websites and YouTube.
1980: Basque Country – Korrika
1997: Catalonia – Correllengua
2000: Galicia – Correlingua
2008: Brittany – Ar Redadeg
2010: Ireland – An Rith
Korrika (Basque Country)
Established in 1980. The run is administrated by AEKG, the independent body which teaches Basque to adults. This is the ‘grandfather’ of all language races and is huge! The Basques run 24 hours non-stop for about 10 days across the whole of Euskal Herria, the Basque Country including the French side and Navarre. About 600,000 people take part, including this year Welsh rugby international, Mike Davies who plays rugby for Bayonne where the 2013 Korrika finished. The Korrika raises some €3.5m and is held every second year.
Established in 2008 intially under the umbrella of Diwan, the private Breton-medium school network (the French state won’t fund Breton language schools!). It is now an independent race. The Redadeg has grown with every event. The first run in 2008 covered 800km, the last one, in 2012 was 1,200km. Like the Basque the Bretons are tough! They also run 24 hours non-stop across the five departements of Brittany. The money they’ve raised in the past have gone to such things as a Breton radio bro (local radio) and Breton medium theatre for young people. Those who speak Welsh will recognise the similarity between the Breton ‘redadeg’ and the Welsh word ‘rhedeg’ (to run). In a nod of appreciation to the Bretons, the company set up to administer Ras yr Iaith is called Rhedadeg – a Cambricised version of the Breton word.
An Rith (Ireland)
Established in 2010, the Rith is supported by the main Irish language bodies. It is held has part of the historic Seachtain na Gaeilge (Irish language week) which is held in the week running up to St Patrick’s Day. In 2012 the runners ran 700km passing through villages and towns including cities such as Dulin, Belfast and Derry. The Rith does not run 24 hours a day.