Who is Who
Tomas Zdrahal

Tomas Zdrahal, M55, CZE

[Tomas (left) and a team mate during their special program of "altitude training" in Dead Sea O-camp. Results are coming, he says. At least... C Final!]

Last year in Finland you ran D Final and got the 61st place. Is it a normal result for you? What happened wrong: big mistakes on qualifying races? Did you enjoy the terrain? Was it quite different from Czech terrains?
Place 61... Indeed? I remember very well the centre of WMOC 2007 Ruka and Ruka area - a range of high hills with a beautiful view to all directions as far as the Arctic Circle and Russian border , I remember the Oulanka National Park, I remember very nice o-people I had met at this fine event, but I have completely forgotten all about my results there. I don't care about my results in any race, so at least after so much long time after the race. Moreover, I don't think that results should be for masters (veterans) just the most important... "What happened wrong: big mistakes on qualifying races?" Just a moment, I'll have a look at the maps and I'll find it very well - this is ORIENTEERING - the only sport you can live through "your race" so many times you wish... The terrain? Really quite different I am used at home, but I had come to Finland just for it, so not only for it: iron curtain was too strict to travel neither west nor a bit further north nor a bit further south when I was young...

Do you believe that you, competing for the first time in M55, can rectify in Portugal your Finnish result? Are you doing some special training? Which distance is your favourite: Sprint or Long?
M55? Yes, you are right, I am already 55 this year (I checked my date of birth at my ID card and calculated 2008 - 1953.) I shall be then the Butch among skilled and older M55's competitors, i.e. I am not much sure about my results in Portugal. Perhaps Final C? Or better? I hope so, especially because I have already started with my special training at "high-elevations" terrains - it works as they say. Really, look at the picture from our this year's o-camp in Israel (Dead Sea). Sprint or Long? I enjoy both, every in different way. I think it is possible only just because it is the ORIENTEERING...

Before Finland, have you been to other WMOC events? What was your best result in a Masters? What memories do you have from those other WMOC?
I took part in many of them: in the U.S.A.., in the Czech Republic, in Denmark, in Canada, in Austria, in... I had to look at my PC - digital camera is the wonderful appliance... I don't remember my results - I can find my courses on maps, pictures from events (pictures of my o-friends, not me: why to make a picture of an old man?) and bethink myself of the beautiful experiences ), but I cannot find my results (maybe on the Internet, I'll try to make it sometimes... perhaps I'll try it...).

When did you discover orienteering? Do you remember your first races? When did you have your best season?
In 1961 - thanks to my father I discovered this best sport in the world. Yes, I remember my first races and much more than these ones from my best season. I think that was sometime during my University studies.

Did you practice other sport different from orienteering? What are the highlights of your sporting career?
If I think only about sports at which I was registered in some sport club for more than 5 years then: athletics and cross country skiing. Highlights? Perhaps two times the Czech champions and once Perm's (a big Russian area in the Ural mountain) champions in rogaining (jointly with my friend Tomas Vaclavek) - I classify rogaining as a kind of orienteering.

Have you ever been to Bohemia 5 Days?
Yes, many times. Once even as the member of the organizing team.

Have you got good results there?
Probably better results than in WMOC 2007.

What memories do you have from this 5-day event?
Many sandstones and even more beers - sometimes more than should be.

Do you know where it will be held in 2009?
Not yet - we are not used to go to Bohemia 5 Days in last years.

This year, of course, WOC (July 12th-20th) will be the most important orienteering event in Czech Republic. Are you involved in organization or will you run in spectator races?
Who is Robert Zdrahal (WOC director of organizational section)?
Robert is my younger brother (it doesn't mean he is young, however). Unfortunately (for WOC 2008 - at least some people think it, including me) he is in the lower position at the organizing team than the director as in the beginning. I am going to take part only in spectator's races.

What can you, in 5-10 lines, say about orienteering in Czech Republic? Did you have an "Emil Zatopek" of orienteering?
To compare with other "o-developed" countries Czech orienteering is somewhere in the middle. I mean as for percentage of registered competitors among other sportsmen, as for popularity, as for results of best runners etc. If we had o-Zatopek, you would know it so you know Zatopek. By the way, do you know when he left Czechoslovakia for Olympic Games in Helsinki 1952, the communists asked him to make a "socialistic obligation" to win three gold medals to demonstrate the superiority of communist regime? (He had refused it, but he really won three races - apart from their orders - just because he was the best!)

Who are your best Elite runners at the moment?
To tell the truth I don't know our best Elite runners and I am not interested in them too much. I am not an o-spectator...

How many people do a normal national race usually have?
There are about 350 competitors at a race of local level and about 1000 people at a race of some higher level.

How many races do you have in a season?
As for orienteering races I have more than 30 per season and moreover from 5 to 10 cross-country skiing events.

Making team with Tomas Vaclavek, you attended 6th World Rogaining Championships 2004 in USA. Can you remind some details?
Rogaining is a special class, the super extra class! It is all one adventure. It is not possible to describe it to somebody. One must to experience himself. Do you know what happened after 2 hours of orienteering race? You are for sure at the finish already and probably you drink your well-deserved beer. And what happened after 2 hours of rogaining? You have to work hardly another 22 hours!!! As for Tucson's event I remember the huge, very huge bear that we hit in the dark night suddenly. It was only for the very short moment and then he disappeared. Unfortunately he appeared again soon. "Unfortunately" because we found it hadn't been big bear but an ordinary cow and therefore we lost our story how we met a dangerous grizzly in Apache Mountains. And because we didn't meet even Apache chief Vinetou we left World Rogaining Championships 2004 in USA for the Czech Republic without any success...

Where else have you been competing outside your country? Do you have special memories from any orienteering travel?
Many countries. Special travel memories? To Perm in 2003. We started at the Prague airport at the noon, after 3 hours we were in Moscow, here we (me and Tomas Vaclavek) changed by watch keeping our rucksacks all night till afternoon next day. Then another three hours in the plane to Perm. We arrived at night, taxi drivers wanted to pay for the ride to the city at the beginning $ 100 (probably they thought we are "west" foreigners) after our first Russian words (we had to learn this language from the grade 4) they started to reduce: $ 90,$ 80, $..., $ 20. But we were heartless and waited until the first traffic transport bus, paid for the ride about 16 rouble (about half-dollar) and came to the centre of rogaining race one hour before the start time. We changed our clothes and started for 24 hours. And only then we went to bed. Actually, not at once. First we went to the pub to give an interview to journalists while drinking beer (beers to tell true).

What event did you enjoy the most (organization, terrain, maps, courses, atmosphere, landscape)?
I am still waiting for the event I will enjoy the most.

Why did you decide to come Portuguese WMOC? What do you expect beside the results?
Because I don't want to wait for my best event very long. I expect very nice people and lovely country.

You are coming in a group of six people. Are you all from same club? Do you use to travel together? How is the competitive level of the other five men?
We are all from the same club and we are going to travel together. Some of them are better in drinking beers, some are better in orienteering. One of them is better in both disciplines. You understand I cannot say who it is: Everybody of them thinks I mean him and it means I remain the friend of all of them.

Do you know other people coming from Czech Republic? (Zdenek Koc, Pavel Stehno and Hana Stehnová, Miroslav Sikora and Marie Sikorová, Hana Sochorova, etc...). Can you put in evidence some competitors from your country?
I know them (I mean men; I don't care about o-women at all). I think there are another Czech people thinking about Portuguese WMOC who are still missing in the preliminary start list, but I don't know it for sure.

(Interview by Manuel Dias. Questions and answers by e-mail. Received on 2008 Mar 19th.)

[2008-06-20] Carlos Monteiro, WMOC Event Director

[2008-06-20] Dieter Wolf, M55, SUI

[2008-06-19] Timo Teinila, WMOC speaker

[2008-06-19] Jorge Simões, WMOC Event Director assistant

[2008-06-18] Blair Trewin, M35, AUS

[2008-06-18] Mariett Matias, WMOC Media responsible

[2008-06-17] David May, WMOC Senior Event Advisor

[2008-06-16] Gottfried Tobler, M60, AUT

[2008-06-16] Tuulikki Salmenkylä, W45, FIN

[2008-06-16] Arvo Majoinen, M80, FIN

[2008-06-14] Fernando Costa, WMOC Marketing responsible

[2008-06-13] Sarah Dunn, W40, GBR

[2008-06-12] Santos Sousa, WMOC planner

[2008-06-11] Sigurd Daehli, M55, NOR

[2008-06-10] Alexandre Reis, WMOC mapper and planner

[2008-06-09] Nick Duca, M40, CAN

[2008-06-07] Tiago Aires, WMOC mapper and planner

[2008-06-06] Irina Stepanova, W55, RUS

[2008-06-05] Luís Sérgio, WMOC mapper

[2008-06-04] Ari Kattainen, M50, FIN

[2008-06-03] Rui Antunes, WMOC Mapping coordinator

[2008-06-02] Jon Musgrave, M45, GBR

[2008-05-31] Jacinto Eleutério, WMOC Course coordinator

[2008-05-30] Rune Carlsson, M70, SWE

[2008-05-29] Åke Jacobson, IOF President

[2008-05-29] Augusto Almeida, POF President

[2008-05-28] Jurate Uleviciene, W55, LIT

[2008-05-26] Vladimir Ioffe, M70, ISR

[2008-05-23] José Fernandes, M45, POR

[2008-05-21] Ezio Paris, M55, ITA

[2008-05-19] Gabriella Györffy, W40, HUN

[2008-05-16] Alberto Minguez, M40, ESP

[2008-05-14] Tomas Zdrahal, M55, CZE

[2008-05-12] Paulo Becker, M45, BRA

[2008-05-09] Ingrid Roll, W70, NOR

[2008-05-07] Jerzy Parzewski, M55, POL

[2008-05-05] Hugh Moore, M60, AUS

[2008-05-02] Martin Checkley, M55, GBR

[2008-04-30] Etienne Bousser, M60, FRA

[2008-04-28] Andreas Grote, M40, SUI

[2008-04-24] Liudmila Labutina, W65, RUS

[2008-04-22] Freddy Sillien, M60, BEL

[2008-04-17] Tomislav Kaniski, M35, CRO

[2008-04-14] Eero Tuuteri, M85, FIN

[2008-04-10] Lena Nordahl, W80, SWE

[2008-04-07] Albano João, M45, POR

[2008-04-03] Tom A. Karlsen, M55, NOR

[2008-03-31] Kayoko Sakai, W55, JPN

[2008-03-27] Finn Arildsen, M45, DEN

[2008-03-24] Anne Nurmi, W45, FIN

[2008-03-20] Peo Bengtsson, M75, SWE

[2008-03-17] Alida Abola, W50, LAT

[2008-03-13] Matti Railimo, M60, FIN

[2008-03-10] Cornelia Eckardt, W35, GER

[2008-03-06] Joaquim Sousa, M35, POR

[2008-03-03] Birgitta Olsson, W75, SWE

[2008-02-20] J. Salmenkylä, M75, FIN

[2008-02-18] Torid Kvaal, W65, NOR

[2008-02-15] Mykola Bozhko, M55, UKR

[2008-02-13] Pavlina Brautigam, W45, USA

[2008-02-11] Ferran Santoyo, M35, ESP

[2008-02-08] Sole Nieminen, W80, FIN

[2008-02-06] Stefano Galletti, M40, ITA

[2008-02-04] Gillian Ingham, W50, NZL

[2008-02-01] Jörgen Mårtensson, M45, SWE

[2008-01-30] Tom Hiltebrand, M50, SUI

[2008-01-28] Baiba Ozola, W40, LAT

[2008-01-25] Eddie Harwood, M55, GBR

[2008-01-23] Marje Viirmann, W45, EST

[2008-01-21] Alexander Afonyushkin, M40, RUS

[2008-01-18] Paulina Majova, W55, SVK

[2008-01-16] Björn Linnersjö, M65, SWE

[2008-01-15] Lillian Røss, W85, NOR

[2008-01-10] Tapio Peippo, M55, FIN

[2008-01-07] Elizabeth Brown, W90, GBR

[2008-01-04] Erkki Luntamo, M90, FIN

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