Monday, February 25, 2013

Marek Pospisek: "You have to experience MTBO, that's where its strenght is"

Marek Pospisek is one of the biggest names of the MTBO international scene. In our minds is still the duel fight against the Austrian Tobias Breitschädel for the world title in the Sprint race, that he lost for two single seconds. But this is just one of the topics of a long talk, where we can also have his opinions about the Athletes' Commission, the present moment of MTB Orienteering and the future. A future that can mean a historical gold medal for the Czech team or, later in the autumn, a victory in the World Cup... in Portugal.

I start by asking you who is Marek Pospisek?

Marek Pospisek (M. P.) - I was born in 1989, 8th of April. I live in Brno (2nd biggest city in Czech Republic). I studied economics. Now I am an entrepreneur and co-founder of WeLoveMail (, focusing on marketing and business development. I like innovations and hi-tech technologies. I’m always trying to get to know people who can think 'out of the box'. I really love good food, beer, wine and coffee.

When did you find out that your future would be as a MTB orienteer?

M. P. - At first I was purely a foot orienteer. Then I heard about MTBO as a punk orienteering discipline. In 2003 I rode my first MTBO event and I really enjoyed it. And of course I won in my class :-D

What do you see in this discipline that makes it so special?

M. P. - People, speed, fast decisions, real connection with nature, punk/free taste of the discipline (at least in orienteering sports family), parties (at Czech Cup).

Will you tell me something about your daily routine?

M. P. - Daily routine? I don't have anything like that. I am a really lazy person :-D. In winter, I seek xc skiing, running, gyms and spinning. I also ski down the slopes and next winter I want to try alpine skiing. Recently I've taken a liking to long runs by classic technique. I've just run the Tartu Marathon in Estonia. In summer, I ride at least a half of my training time on a road bike. I ride it either to train my technique or map orientation. In the final stage I'm training for speed improvements.

What does it mean to be a MTB orienteer in the Czech Republic?

M. P. - Czechia is probably the best place for MTBO. I would like to explain why, shortly: Approximately 300 competitors are attended in each one of Czech MTBO Cups. The cup counts 18 individual races in a season. We have, of course, relays' and teams' race. It’s about 10 MTBO weekends in a year. Participants of different long distance score races are counted to thousands. Terrains are various in Czechia - from flat to hilly roads, from relatively thin to thick road networks. I think there are also a lot of mapped terrains for Foot-O that just haven't been used for MTBO. There is no professional MTBO biker in Czechia. Everyone's doing some other job for a living or they are studying. You can get a sponsor only if you're racing road bicycle races also. But it's always a material support only. It's a little bit different with the national team. They're getting money from the Union which is getting it mostly from various government resources. So the representation luckily has enough resources for us to ride the whole World Cup and Championship without the need of paying it on our own.

Looking at the special moments you’ve been through in MTB orienteering until now, could you mention the most thrilling one or two?

M. P. - The first moment was in Denmark on Junior World Championship where I had diarrhea and fever the whole night before middle, which was my main goal of the season. I felt terrible in the morning. But I said to myself I have to bring my A game. Luckily I haven’t had my legs fully ruined and I managed to concentrate on the race just fine. Even though it wasn’t my fastest day, that flawless effort was enough for reaching the first position. And the second moment was probably two months later on the Championship in Israel. On the contrary I was totally over-motivated on the middle and I was doing silly things from the start. On the way to the 4th control I didn’t notice a rock about meter and a half tall and jumped over it – well, felt over it. That have damaged my frame, but we didn’t noticed that till the day before relay race. And just during the relay race it happened. I was riding my last segment and two controls ahead of the spectators area I was in the lead. Sadly in one abrupt turn the frame broke. Luckily right behind me was Lubos Tomecek from the second Czech relay team that made it on the 2nd place in the end. I finished the race by running on the 8th position.

Going back to August 21st, 2012, in Hungary, what did you feel when you realized that for two single seconds you lost the opportunity to win the first gold medal of the Czech Republic's history in a WOC?

M. P. - Shit happens :-D I lost the gold medal but I got my first individual medal in senior category. That was my goal. Luckily no other Czech in Hungary did manage to get that gold, so I can still be first :-D

You have just been appointed to the IOF Mountain Bike Orienteering Athletes’ Commission. How did you see the invitation and what were the reasons that led you to accept the position?

M. P. - When Michi offered me this chance, she said she’d be glad if there was someone from Czechia in the commission. I refused that offer at first, but then I thought about it and realized it’s a great opportunity to affect and form something.

Is being so young an advantage or a disadvantage for such a task?

M. P. - I think it’s an advantage. Respectively it’s a big advantage for the whole commission, because no one else has been through the system of youth and junior contests. I can have a different point of view and that’s important for the work in the commission.

If you had the power to decide, what would you change in the MTB orienteering?

M. P. - I don't like the effort to get MTBO or the orienteering in general onto TV. We simply are not an attractive sport to watch. You have to experience MTBO, that's where its strength is. That's why I'd like to insist on getting orienteering to be offered in the most various forms as an activity. Not through media. Media will find orienteering when its time comes. And if the necessary condition for getting it onto Olympic sports list should be the devaluation of this discipline, I am against to see some orienteering sport in the Olympic Games.

At the beginning of the season, which are your main competitive goals? It will be this year that we are going to see Marek in the podium's highest place?

M. P. - As I said earlier, the first gold medal for Czech Republic can still be mine :-) We’ll see how much I’m going to be able to combine training with work, that is probably going to change a lot during March. So we will see.

You will return to Portugal in October, I'm sure, for the final round of the World Cup. What do you expect to happen? Winning the World Cup here?

M. P. - I would definitely like to come for the final round of the World Cup. Perhaps even to win it. Memories of WOC 2010 are positive. Races were really well arranged. Hard terrains, good maps and track construction. I really liked Portugal as a country and for its culture. Unfortunately the injury that happened to Hanka Dolezalova is another memory that is strongly settled in my mind. Sadly it’s a thing that can happen anywhere in the world. Thumbs up for organizers for their work and I hope that autumn races are going to be as good as the World Championship 2010.

Eight years after Nove Mesto na Morave, the Czech Republic will receive the WOC 2015. Although we are still at a huge distance from the event, I ask you to give us a preview of what we can expect.

M. P. - We can expect really nice and interesting terrains nearby the Liberec city. Also the courses will be hard and tricky and everything will be going perfectly smoothly on the organizers’ side. And finally we can be looking forward to the best beer in the world :-)

Joaquim Margarido

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