Next Sunday, Aldeia das Açoteias, in Albufeira (Portugal), will receive the 51st edition of the European Champion Clubs Cup Cross Country, an event that brings to Portugal almost half a thousand athletes seeking for the best result. Number 3 in the IOF's World Ranking, Matthias Kyburz is one of the athletes who will be present at the starting line. Once again, Portugal and the major competitions on the route of the great Swiss orienteer are a pretext for a brief but pleasant conversation, where orienteering joins cross country.
While Thierry Gueorgiou, Daniel Hubmann and some other major orienteering names competed last weekend in Portugal, you were the winner in Bern with your mind in... Portugal. But not for an orienteering event. Can you explain what happened?
Matthias Kyburz (M. K.) - Next sunday I will run the European Champion Clubs Cup Cross Country, in Albufeira, and that’s why I was running a Cross Country race in Bern, last weekend, for preparing myself. I'll be in Portugal to run because my team, LG Regio Basel, was the Swiss Champion in Cross Country last year, in the team competition. The race in Bern was just a regional Cross Country race, with the participation of some good triathlon guys.
What do you know about Albufeira and the other competitors?
M. K. - Not a lot. I just know that it's in the south of Portugal... I haven't seen the Start List yet, so I have no idea about the other competitors.
What specific training have you done for the competition?
M. K. - I didn't train specifically for the event, despite the race last weekend. My winter training, in general, is going quite well so far, and this is, in my point of view, the most valuable preparation. If you train for orienteering, you also train for cross running. There is no big difference, I think. For me, cross country is a way to be physically ready for the international season.
At the moment I'm sure that your thoughts are in Albufeira. After the 17th position last year, in Castellon (Spain), how is it going to be with the LG Regio Basel this year? What kind of race do you expect?
M. K. - Last year I didn't participate. So, this is my first time running a big international Cross Country race. But I've heard that we will have no chance to fight for the top positions. Our team will be much stronger than last year, that's for sure. I expect to be in the middle of the field. Thankfully, I have good legs and I can fight all the way to the finish.
How do you feel seeing in the start line so many familiar names, such as Tue Lassen, Jani Lakanen, Gabriel Lombriser and your brother Andreas, for example? Why do we see the big names of orienteering getting important results in other sports so often and we don't see the opposite?
M. K. - To have the names you mentioned with me at the Start means that, at least, I see the possibility to beat some guys... (laughs). About the other question, it's quite simple: As orienteers, we have to run fast and therefore we can compete against the best runners. But it is much more difficult for a non-orienteer to be at the same level in map reading as us.
Just one last question: After Albufeira, you'll return to Portugal for the European Championships. Is that your main goal, to win in Portugal the first European individual title?
M. K. - After Albufeira, I will stay two weeks in Portugal to prepare for the European Championships. Of course, I'll try to prepare myself the best way to be ready at the European Championships and win a gold medal.