Thursday 7/5/2012: Today was an exciting day for us Americans. we got to train with the Kiwis (New Zealanders)! Apparently we were invited too, which makes it much more awesome. The training was a mass start course with forkings. Pretty tough... those kiwis are fast too, and it was hard to take it easy when the guys you want to beat in a few days are going as hard as they can. Eventually I was on my own and was able to really start focusing. Towards the end I was able to pick it up and finish hard. I was in before a couple of kiwis, but I don't know how far back I was from the rest.
The afternoon long training was next on the agenda, and after the longest kilometer of walking ever, we got to the map and split into groups of two. I was with Zac and we did most of the controls, but didn't turn them into loops. I definitely feel much more confident in the terrain, though, and am looking forward to the long.
Thursday we raced Aussies and Kiwis today in a mock Relay start at Bankov. The course was open and fast. While running fast I had to focus and pay attention in this technical area. We came back to the dorm for lunch. Then we headed out to towards Raznava (80 km) to practice a Long course. We had to park about 4k from our start area. On the walk to start, we got a close look at the features of the area. The largest feature by far was the deep, conical depressions. For the open areas, the grass could either be short (fast) or tall (not so fast). After we got to the start we found the course was set up to practice butterfly loops (3 loops). We went out in groups of two. Andrew and I decided to split at each leg and then wait at the control for the other and then head out to the next leg. The terrain had small patches of white woods, the open areas were mainly tall grasses and the medium green was terrible. Of course we had a long walk back. After dinner at the dorm, we all headed downtown for pizza.
Friday: On the way to our Middle course training we drove by a huge sunflower field. As we got close to our destination we found all the roads had the same name, Lemesany. We got to the start and immediately began the course on a map called Bizany made in 2011. The terrain was very white with many more water features. After lunch we went to a small lake to swim and relax. I swam to the middle of the lake and swam back. The water was cool and had lots of algae. After dinner we went downtown and had pizza and shopped for the other half of our banquet outfit. Later we played cards and I was “Dictator” twice.