When we learned that this year's Veterans World Championships will be held in Ljubljana, it was a huge news for us. And plans of assault on a medal were on! After the dates of all ultra races were published, it became clear that my preparation for the road race and time trial will not be optimal. One of the main objectives of my season, race around Switzerland / Tortour (1.009km long race with 14.000m of climbing) will end only two weeks prior to the World Championships.

Here, I have completed my sixth Tortour. Feelings are mixed. My goal was to win and the second place is anything but what I wanted. But I did come across a stronger competitor and Severin Zotterju certainly deserves all congratulations on a well deserved win. Acknowledgements go to my crew Irma, Matic Šmon and Borut Osojnik, you once again performed excellently. Thank you from my heart! Thank you also to all the sponsors who support me and my cycling endevours.

My report from the race:

Ljubljana, 13. avgust 2014 – Slovenski ultra-maratonski kolesar Marko Baloh, se po razočaranju na Dirki okoli Slovenije in nato prepričljivi zmagi na ultra-kolesarski dirki v ZDA Race across the West odpravlja nasproti novemu izzivu. Preko vikenda bo nastopil na Dirki okoli Švice bolj znani pod pomenljivim imenom Tortour. 

One month after Race around Slovenia it is time for the toughest race in the World - the Race across America. It is a race that gets into your heart and it is hard to stay away when this happens. Unfortunately it costs way too much for me to be able to pull it off every year. This year the plan was to see the race from the other side as a crew chief. Due to the circumstances the plan was postponed for a year and I was left wondering how to get close to RAAM. The answer was simple in the shape of RAAM's little "brother" called Race across the West or RAW. Just a 860 miles long race that starts simultaneously as RAAM and finishes in Durango, CO. After a quick search for a crew, we got Tanja and Chris to join Irma and me, so we were in! After one of our bags got lost on a way, we were left without our clothing, but the main items arrived - the bike and one piece of jersey&shorts, helmet and the shoes for the race, which are always in my backpack because of similar experiences in the past.

 

After two days of rest and licking my wounds it is probably time to tell you firsthand what has happened at RAS. It is always difficult to DNF the race, and it has not yet happened to me to have to DNF from leadership positions. It was difficult because of a great crew and awesome fans everywhere along the route at all possible times of the day. The hardest it was probably for me because I do not like withdrawing at all.

My feelings are perhaps best told by Ali on my FB page:
‘Marko, sometimes it takes more courage to decide to end early because the health of the athlete is at stake, rather than try to be brave and carry on with the race at all costs until the end. Hat off to people like you! The real winner for me is the one who says to himself: "I was great, I gave my best, but my health is more important than victory! " Compliments to you and the whole crew. For me, you are true winners! Get well as soon as possible.’

Thanks for your nice words Ali!

Letos se je start dirke začel že ob šesti uri, start Markota točno ob 18:44. Zadnja meritev trase je pokazala razdaljo 1205 km in dobrih 14.000 višinskih metrov.

My racing equipment is finally ready and you can see it all here. Like the last couple of years my shorts&jerseys are made by Slovenian cycling clothing company BANEM. My bike is LOOK, the wheels FFWD, shoes BONT, glasses ADIDAS and the helmet (not in the photo) is made by KALI Protectives. Top of the notch gear for top of the notch racing!

After a particularly hard and long winter it is time for the first real test of the season, the only ultra-cycling race in Slovenia and one of the best races in the World - RACE AROUND SLOVENIA 2014. The two months of forced “rest” because of the broken shoulder and the subsequent two months rehabilitation didn’t do me any favors in preparation for it, so I have mixed feelings about it. Some people have already declared me as a favorite, but little do they know what a 2 months break can mean with such a grueling event as a 1.200km cycling race. So, I try to look at it realistically.

 

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