After a disrupted spring season with too much illness and not enough competition, I decided quite late to go to the Karst Cup in Slovakia - partly as it is a little relevant for World Champs, and partly just to do some good races in some cool terrain. It was a really fun competition, really fantastic (hot) weather, and some good other runners to race. We were staying in the same hotel as some Norwegian WOC runners, and there were also runners from Hungary, Finland, Slovakia and Czech racing. Not all the best runners were running every day, and some were just taking the competition as training. I was trying to get a good feeling after a long period without racing, and my goal was to push each day a little harder than the last. That plan lasted about 15 minutes! Just after the 4th control on day 1 I twisted my ankle quite badly - enough so that every step was hurting, but not enough to stop. I continued, but really carefully - especially on the downhill and stony parts. I lost around 6 minutes on this day, maybe 1-2 minutes from mistakes with 72 minutes. In the evening Pippa and I did a sprint training. Day 2 was probably my best day technically. I ran well with maybe 1 mistake of 30 seconds, and then 1 bad route choice on a long leg, and I was 2 minutes behind Krepsta after 72 minutes.
Days 3 and 4 were away from the Karst terrain, and hour north in 'Slovakian Paradise' which was really steep and rocky - very technical and physical terrain, and a little Norwegian. Day 3 was a middle distance, and for the first time I was trying to push really hard. I made a couple of small mistakes, but the big problem was looking after my ankle in the rough terrain, and I was a little under 2 minutes behind Weltzein. In the evening, Pippa and I did a training in an open/green karst terrain which was really different to anything I have done before - awesome!
Day 4 was a chasing start, and I was 2nd off after Krepsta (who actually went home and didn't start) and chasing me was Weltzein. Unfortunately Audun had problems with his ankle tape and quit! So I ran alone and took the trophy :). I was satisfied with my race. I ran around 66 minutes and was 3.30 behind Carl Waaler Kaas. I missed maybe 1-2 minutes.
Overall a really nice training camp - good terrain, good maps, good courses. Swam in some lakes, saw some nice mountains and ate lots of nice food. Won some good prizes too!
Maps and photos below.