Czech Nationals

It’s been a very busy few days since my last update. Petr and I left Canada on Thursday evening, and by Friday afternoon we were training on the rollerskiing trails at the Liberec-Vesec stadium from the 2009 World Nordic Ski Championships. The first challenge of this trip was simply managing to pack everything.

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Not even half of the stuff I have with me this month.

I managed to charm my way out of some charges for overweight luggage, but was embarassed to have so much. I’m used to packing into a backpack or kayak.

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Everything I need for a week in my backpack.

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Everything I need for a month in my boat.

On Saturday I competed in the Czech National Rollerski Championships. I have been rollerskiing for barely three years, and just feel like I’m starting to get comfortable on them. I’ve done some time trials but no official races on these infernal contraptions. Due to reasons which I will never understand the wide trails at Vesec were taken over by disc-golfers for the weekend and the National Championships were moved to narrower paths at a biathlon training facility.

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Vesec Stadium

A morning rain left the trails a bit slippery which I was not at all pleased with. I was able to ski a few laps of the 2.5km course and get moderately comfortable with the turns and downhills which we had to negotiate. In order to ensure a fair race, the organisers gave everyone the same type of rollerski. Getting my skis just 15 minutes before the start gave me very little time to test them out. Fortunately they tracked well, and ran slower and were more stable than my own skis which gave me more confidence going into the race. The men also had the last start of the day, by which point the track had luckily dried out a bit. The race was a 15km freestyle race, which added up to 6 laps of the course.

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Halfway up the major climb on the course.

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Lukáš Bauer showing us how it should be done.

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A few minutes after the finish – no broken poles!

I had the first starting position with 30 second intervals separating the racers. Due to the multiple laps the course quickly filled up and I always had someone to try to chase ahead of me. My first lap went well, then I slowed down a bit, and managed to lose count of my laps. I managed to pick up the pace a bit into the 5th lap when I knew that I was getting close to the end. Overall I was pleased to have completed my first rollerski race, but I may have put too much thought into worrying about breaking myself or my equipment, and I should have put more concentration into racing harder through the middle of the race.

Sunday brought more rain and a continuation of the national championship. The day’s event was a 6.5km run with over 500m of elevation gain from the village of Pilínkov to the top of Ještěd. The peak of the mountain is easily spotted due to the futuristic hotel/antenna built there between 1966 and 1973.

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Ještěd

The run took place in misty, drizzly weather, but the temperature was actually quite ideal to avoid overheating.

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Race leaders Jiří Magal and Lukáš Bauer.

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Nice day for a run!

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Not a great view for the spectators.

Overall I wasn’t too pleased with my races this weekend. I was pretty close to the bottom of the results list on both days and felt that I had saved a bit too much energy during the races. To put a positive spin on things, I managed to race 36 hours after a long journey, avoided any injuries or equipment failure, am feeling healthy and ready for lots more training and have picked up some excellent experiences from the Czech racing scene and it’s world class athletes.

I had the chance to spend the weekend with a local team (Olfin Car Vella Trutnov) and was thoroughly impressed by their preparation, dedication, discipline and hard work from a young age –  it certainly seemed to be paying off for them in the results!

Today will be a rest day, a chance to catch up on some writing, accounting, training logs, groceries and route planning as we drive to the ski tunnel in Oberhof tomorrow!

One response to “Czech Nationals

  1. Hey man! Congrats! I think it’s good to put this stuff in perspective – these are elite races, and it’s normal to be apprehensive etc. I’m enjoying the blog! Good luck training

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