I was chillin at my own accommodation next to middle distance model terrain. I had decided that it would make sense to stay closer to competition venue and avoid excess traveling from team accommodation since it was good 2h drive each direction. I had it all planned out. Or so I thought…
Team bus picked me up two days before middle distance competition and we were about to move into our Airbnb place and stay there for upcoming race day. How often have you arrived to address just to discover that half of the house is missing?! Like half of the building taken down to the ground. No joke! At this stage we still had our hope. Maybe we are at the wrong address, maybe there is another house waiting for us. Neighbour from across the street solved our mystery. I shoved him name of the place we were looking for. Lad didn’t speak much english, so he gave us two words in german (or actually one): Ahhh, kaput! At this point we had to accept it - we had no place to stay with one day to go till middle distance start.
Hectic surfing through mighty booking page and Airbnb. Nothing available within driving distance. I spotted a restaurant across the road. Judging by the windows it had some hotel rooms on upper floor. Quick negotiations in a few different languages and we have preliminary booking for next night. Team bus hits the road for unplanned trip to sprint relay venue. At least I got to see a race as a spectator. We got back pretty tired, went to sleep without proper plan for next day (or in fact anything related food, training or next night arrangements).
Next day went by figuring out how to wash our clothes without washing machine, cook our food without access to kitchen and staring at the ruins of original accommodation just across the street. We did some light training too to keep panic at the bay and did our best to prepare for upcoming races.Middle distance.
I kind of knew it won’t be easy with middle distance qualification and final on the same day, but actual conditions exceeded my wildest dreams about how tough and complicated a WOC course can get.I did very stable run in qualifications. At least till 3rd last control where I started 180 degrees opposite direction 🙈 This “luxury” cost me one minute and place among 5 best athletes in my qualification heat. Lack of bath in our new accommodation forced me to discover amazing place on river Jizera just five minutes drive from our new place. I even managed to put ice bath in the already ice cold water. It recovered my legs a bit, but I had to accepted very early the fact that I won’t feel any better for final from physical perspective.
I was ready to suffer, but not to an extent that was planned by course setters. I begun my run with small hesitations and mistakes just near the controls, but that was just part of the game in this type of the terrain. Convinced my self that everyone will do small mistakes and continued to work my way through the terrain and course. Around half way through it became clear than there won’t be any variety nor there will be any easier parts in this race. Sort of a breaking point was TV control. Locating it cost me another 90 seconds and I also missed next one due to losing my nerve a bit. Did a little self talk and came to conclusion that only way to get to the finish is to put my focus into navigation once again. My 50 minute fight took me to position 32. I still take it as a success cause this time any position on the final had to be earned with some sweat, blood and maybe even tears. I had my silent goal of reaching top15. This time it was just too tough for me and even without my biggest navigation errors I would have stayed just outside my goal. Simple and plain - have to be a lot stronger to fully enjoy and master this kind of a quest.
But back to REAL adventures. Next day we were moving to our last WOC accommodation. NOT! To begin with - we didn’t get the place we had booked. Instead we were taken to newly renovated building few hundred meters down the street in Ceska Lipa. Looked decent, spacious, whole second floor for our use. The only problem were washing machines - we were allowed to use those starting from next day. Bought some household soap and refreshed my skills from 2012 when I washed all my gear in bathtub. We almost thought we got away with this one, but few hours in the owner comes and announces that we are not allowed to use any water. Apparently all the waste water has been going directly to the first floor. I didn’t see the “crime scene”, but our coach Jari confirmed that their office on first floor was literally floating with shit. At this point I am in tears from laughing. Cause what else can you do. No showering, no cooking, no peeing and don’t you even dare to think about poo poo. Solution?! We can move to the house we originally had for our booking, but there are other people sleeping already. The promise is to get the whole show fixed during next day while we are in the relay competition. I weight my options and decide to stay, go piss outside and avoid moving all my stuff twice.
We did the best we could pretending our accommodation issues didn’t exist. Our humble goal was to hit “one digit number” which was a realistic approach and we nearly made it happen. After solid 1st leg performance by Arturs Paulins we were in the fight with most of the top10 teams. I struggled with the pace during most technical parts of the course and was very happy to meet runners with head lamps to find my way through darkening forest. In order to match TV needs relay was held very late in evening and visibility was clearly an issue even starting from middle of second leg. Again something one can’t be prepared for even with 15 years of experience. Importance of TV in our sport is indisputable and simple advice from organisers to use headlamps would have solved an issue.
Rudolfs Zernis on last leg gained us one place and 10th spot on planet Earth was well earned. A decent result, but no celebration.Tired, hungry and bit disappointed we were heading “home”, but the fun part of the night was just about to start. We got message from owner that they have failed to fix our accommodation and we have to move once gain. Yes, you heard it right. It was around 11PM when we got back and everything had to be taken to other house once again. I can’t really tell you how devastating it was for athletes running long distance the next day cause I wasn’t among them, but sure enough going to sleep at 1AM didn’t help to recover for most demanding competition of this championships. I woke up felling kinda happy that I don’t have to run 100+ minutes at competition effort. Sounds silly, but have to face the truth at some stage. Or was it age?! What ever. NEVERMIND!