By: Matt Setlack

This article will describe my experience at the 57th World Military Cross-Country Running Championships in Balatonakarattya, Hungary from 02 to 08 November 2017. Hopefully, this article may provide motivation to serious CAF runners who are not currently part of the CISM running program to train/race hard and become a member of the team. Being a part of the CISM running program is an amazing opportunity and one that I would highly recommend.

 Several members of the Canadian Team, L to R: Natalia, Isabelle, CJ, Lori, Vincent, Craig, Matt, Denis and Mike.

Several members of the Canadian Team, L to R: Natalia, Isabelle, CJ, Lori, Vincent, Craig, Matt, Denis and Mike.

TRAVELLING TO HUNGARY

I left Cold Lake, Alberta, Canada at 6 am on Thurs 02 Nov and did not arrive in Balatonakarattya, Hungary until 7 pm on Fri 03 Nov. The first leg of the trip was the standard 4 hour bus ride (IBBS) from Cold Lake to Edmonton Airport then a 3.6 hour flight to Toronto (Airbus A320-100/200) followed by a 7.7 hour flight to Munich (Boeing 777-300ER) and a 1.3 hour flight to Budapest (Airbus A320). Upon arriving in Budapest, we were greeted by the Hungarian Delegation and took a 1.5 hour bus ride to Balatonakarattya, Hungary. Total travel time was around 30 hours. Hungary time (GMT + 1) was 7 hours ahead of Cold Lake, Alberta, Canada time.   

 Boeing 777-300ER aircraft that we took from Toronto to Munich

Boeing 777-300ER aircraft that we took from Toronto to Munich

On the Toronto to Munich leg, I was lucky enough to be given seat 13C in the "premium economy" class. In this class, the seat configuration was 2 seats/aisle/3 seats/aisle/2 seats versus the "economy" class seat configuration of 3 seats/aisle/4 seats/aisle/3 seats. The additional room was nice and they also give us food on glass plates and bowls with metal utensils versus the plastic that the economy class gets.

TRAVEL RECOMMENDATIONS

  1. While travelling, I try not to touch my face at all and I wash my hands with soap and water often. There are a lot of germs in the airport/airplane and I don’t want to get sick.

  2. Food in Hungary – I pack my pre-race favourite foods (Vector bars, oatmeal, granola, bagels). Eating exotic/foreign foods that your body is not used to before a race that you have spent months/years training for is not advisable.

  3. Food During Travel – I like to bring my own food (celery, strawberries, carrots, bagels) while I travel. I always bring a water bottle to fill up once past security and drink loads of water.

  4. Time Change – Personally, I like to start going to bed a bit earlier and getting up a bit earlier about a week in advance before flying out. Maj Erin Smith told me that this seems to help with time change. When I get to Hungary, I plan to get on the local time asap, which usually means staying up the first day and not sleeping until it is night time there.

  5. Racing spikes/flats – I start wearing them during workouts well in advance of the CISM race.

  6. XC Terrain – I like to do a few training runs/workouts on the type of XC terrain that I can expect during the race (grass, dirt).

  7. Alcohol – I personally stay away from drinking the free alcohol (and coffee) while on the airplane ride to Hungary.

  8. Earplugs – BRING THEM! Maybe even bring a spare set. Some people like black-out eye covers as well.

PRE RACE

On Saturday 04 November morning, I ran with Denis and other team mates around the course and ran over the obstacles with spikes on. We only ran around 20-30 minutes, which I believe is the shortest run I have ever done. haha

 Mike, Denis, Craig and Matt.

Mike, Denis, Craig and Matt.

At 4 pm, we had the opening ceremonies where everyone dressed up in their military uniforms. The ceremony lasted about 45 minutes, which I found to be perfect. It seemed to take much longer to say something in Hungarian than English. There were approximately 300 people total among 25 different countries competing in this championship.

 Pre-race meeting and timing chip distribution.

Pre-race meeting and timing chip distribution.

VENUE

Accommodations

I believe that the place we stayed in Balatonakarattya, Hungary was a resort for Hungarian military personnel and their families.The location and quality of the accommodations (Hotel Aranyhid) where the Canadian team stayed was perfect. Our accommodations were literally about 100m from the start line of the race course. We walked about 300-400m to the dining hall. There were ample places to run around the race course area and there was a 2km loop around the perimeter of the resort.

 Hotel Aranyhid

Hotel Aranyhid

 My bed. My room mate was Sam.

My bed. My room mate was Sam.

 A short walk to the dining hall.

A short walk to the dining hall.

 There were at least 10 people raking.

There were at least 10 people raking.

FOOD

I found the food to be decent. The three meal times per day were good but when I am home I personally prefer to eat continuously throughout the day rather than in three large chunks. For some reason, we were only given very small plates the size of dessert plates instead of larger dinner plates. Unfortunately, I didn't eat nearly as many fruits and vegetables as I normally eat and for some reason, I had very limited protein intake.

TEAM CANADA COMPOSITION

There were a total of 19 members on the Canadian Team including Maj Michael Mueller (Team Manager), WO (ret'd) Denis Cloutier (Coach), Capt Nathalie Royer (Physio), MGen Alain Pelletier (CAF Running Patron) and 15 athletes as shown below.

 15 athletes were part of the Canadian CISM Hungary Team

15 athletes were part of the Canadian CISM Hungary Team

 Long Course Male Team, L to R: Michael Bergeron, Matt, Chris, James and Alex. Note that Sam is missing from the photo.

Long Course Male Team, L to R: Michael Bergeron, Matt, Chris, James and Alex. Note that Sam is missing from the photo.

 Short Course Female Team, L to R: Isabelle, Maria, Natalia, Lori and CJ.

Short Course Female Team, L to R: Isabelle, Maria, Natalia, Lori and CJ.

 Short Course Male Team, L to R: Mark, Logan, Vincent and Craig.

Short Course Male Team, L to R: Mark, Logan, Vincent and Craig.

RACE COURSE

The race course was a looped course. Each loop was 2.3km long. They had a jumbotron (massive screen) setup next to the start/finish area. The course was extremely friendly for spectators as you could see your team mates at numerous locations during every loop.

The Hungarian Delegation did a fantastic job of taking photos of all runners in the days and weeks leading up the race as well as during the race, during the opening and closing ceremonies and after the race. Photos and videos were posted on the Facebook page right after they were taken.

Map of Race Course. Red line is one 2.3km lap.

There was live streaming of each athlete position during the race. Unfortunately, since it was 3 am in Alberta when I was racing, I'm not sure how many people watched. There was an incredible energy surrounding the race. There was really good high energy music being played at all times during the race.

RACE DAY (Sunday 05 November)

The men's long course race started at 10 am, which I found to be the perfect time to start a race (well done, Hungarian Delegation). The short course men started 1.5 hours later at 11:30 am and the women started at 12:30 pm.

Based on our seed times, I toed the line at the front of the Canadian Team next to James. I went out quite aggressively because the course was fairly narrow and windy. If you get stuck behind 100+ other runners, you have to expend a lot of energy unnecessarily. The first obstacle was a log jump (see photo below). I found it easier than expected and hurtled the logs each lap except one. Next came a water jump; it was about 2m long and 30-40cm deep. Because you couldn`t see the bottom (muddy), it was a bit of a surprise when your feet touched the bottom of the water. After the water came about 10-15m of sand (volleyball court sand) and a sandbag embankment covered in AstroTurf about 70-80cm tall. Then more sand, another water jump and a short section of pebble gravel before finishing the 2.3km lap. There were also 2-3 road crossings (the pavement was covered in thick rubber mats), where you had to run up and down about 70cm or so. Overall, I though the course was very fast despite the obstacles. 

RACE RESULTS

Official results from the race can be found on www.evochip.hu.results.

Long Course Male (5 laps x 2.3km/lap = 11.5km)

  1. Matt Setlack, 57th, 39:18
  2. James MacLellan, 72nd, 40:52
  3. Christopher Busset, 77th, 41:27
  4. Michael Bergeron, 80th, 41:38
  5. Alexandre Boule, 83rd, 42:23
  6. Samuel Serviss, 86th, 42:40

Canadian Long Course Male Team placed 14th out of 19 teams. 108 runners started the race and 105 finished. 1st overall male ran 35:11.

Short Course Male (2 laps x 2.3km/lap = 4.6km)

  1. Craig Fettes, 36th, 15:23
  2. Logan Roots, 46th, 15:51
  3. Vincent Duguay, 53rd, 15:59
  4. Mark Brown, 54th, 16:03

Canadian Short Course Male Team placed 12th out of 16 teams. 66 runners started the race and 64 finished. 1st overall male ran 13:28.

Short Course Female (2 laps x 2.3km/lap = 4.6km)

  1. Celine Best, 33rd, 17:52
  2. Maria McGregor, 41st, 18:23
  3. Isabelle Turner, 45th, 19:03
  4. Lori Coady, 47th, 19:12
  5. Natalia Borszczow, 49th, 19:38

Canadian Short Course Female Team placed 9th out of 13 teams. 62 runners started the race and 64 finished. 1st overall female ran 15:28.

POST RACE

Cultural Day

Once the races were over, there was an awards/closing ceremony where everyone dressed up in their military uniforms. The Cultural Day was on Monday 06 November. We were bussed to a local town where we took a tour of a castle/fancy house and a walking tour of the downtown area.

In the evening on Monday, there was a banquet with all the athletes. There was food, live music (two separate bands) and a CISM Bar with Hungarian beer. 

TRAVELLING BACK TO CANADA

To travel back to Canada, I reversed the process of getting to Hungary but except going forward 7 hours, I went back 6 hours (Daylight Shifting Time in Canada occurred while I was away). While walking to my seat before the trans-Atlantic flight from Munich to Toronto, a gentleman pointed out that I was wearing a Ronhill jacket. This gentleman said that he competed against Ron Hill in the 1970 Boston Marathon and in that race, Ron Hill won the race while he placed 10th overall. 

This gentleman's name was Wayne Yetman and he competed as a marathon runner in the 1976 Olympics. His personal best time in the marathon is 2:16:32, which there are very few Canadian marathon runners today who can run that fast of a time. Wayne mentioned that Ron Hill created a new style of running shorts with slits up the sides, which made running much more comfortable. Although it may seem trivial, split shorts were a revolutionary technology at the time. Michael Bergeron (in background of photo) and I really enjoyed talking to Wayne.

Upon returning to Edmonton, the captain of the airplane said over the intercom, "welcome to winter" and he was not kidding. For comparison purposes, I took a photo of a Hungarian field (green grass, top photo) and then a photo of a Canadian field (white snow, bottom photo) on the bus ride to Cold Lake. The very next day, it was back to work and back to the run commute. Once again, Cold Lake lived up to its name with an outside temperature of -19C (-25C with the windchill) on 09 November.

For those interested, below is a really good video of Ron Hill's running streak that lasted 52 years and 39 days, the longest running streak in history.

THANK YOU

I would like to thank the Hungarian Delegation for putting on an extremely well organized, world-class event. I would like to thank the team leadership for all their hard work including the Team Manager, Maj Michael Mueller, the Team Coach, WO (ret'd) Denis Cloutier, the Team Physio, Capt Nathalie Royer and our CAF Running Patron, MGen Alain Pelletier. I would also like to thank my supporters including my family and friends, my chain of command at the Aerospace Engineering Test Establishment, the Canadian Armed Forces, city of Cold Lake, Running Room, Ronhill and Zizu Optics. I am incredibly grateful for all of your fantastic support. Thank you!

 Team Canada

Team Canada