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The Croatia-Italy-Slovenia Trail Orienteering Cup

The 2016 edition of a major Trail Orienteering competition, the annual Croatia-Italy-Slovenia Trail Orienteering Cup, finished last Sunday with victory going to the Italian Remo Madella. Today we meet Krešo Keresteš to learn about the history of a competition that has played a big part in the evolution of Trail Orienteering in that part of the Old Continent.

Read an article about how to understand TrailO in five minutes 

The final competition of the 2016 CRO-ITA-SLO TrailO Cup took place in Cerkno, Slovenia. This year the Cup had 16 stages (6 in Croatia, 4 in Italy and 6 in Slovenia), attracting a total of 99 competitors from 13 different countries. Despite missing the last stage, Remo Madella was the big winner with a total of 591.98 points, finishing ahead of the Croatian Ivica Bertol, the Slovenian Krešo Keresteš, winner of the first two editions, and the Slovakian Ján Furucz, the winner in 2015.

For those less familiar with TrailO, it must be said that these names are real stars of this discipline and a regular presence on European and World podiums. If we add the names of Tomislav Varnica, Dušan Furucz, Emil Kacin, Zdenko Horjan, Ivo Tišljar, Iva Lovrec, Libor Forst, Zoltán Mihaczi, Marco Giovannini, Alessio Tenani or Damir Gobec as some of the competitors that occupied the Cup’s top-20 placings this year, we can fully see the value and the scope of this series of competitions.

How it all started
A Trail Orienteering pioneer in Slovenia, a powerful backer of the Cup and one of its current coordinators – along with the Italian Susy De Pieri and the Croatian Ivo Tišljar – Krešo Keresteš shares some of his memories, helping us to understand how it all started. “My first encounter with TrailO was in 1992 at O-Ringen, the Swedish 5-Days, in Södertälje. I tried it when my Swedish friend, Kalle Rikander from IFK Södertälje, organised it and he persuaded me to have a go,” Krešo remembers. The Swedish experience was significant, awakening in Krešo a huge curiosity: “My interest in TrailO grew when I saw TrailO competitors next to FootO competitions.”

The years passed and the seed of TrailO remained passive, until the day when … “Niko Čižek, my co-worker at that time, once asked me about my hobbies and he found that Orienteering could be interesting for a disabled person like him. He wanted to try it and, after a few training sessions, he decided that it was time for a real competition,” says Krešo. The closest event was in Sweden, O-Ringen 1999, where Niko won three stages and the competition overall in the B class. His wife Anica won the last event and Krešo finished 8th in the Elite class. Despite this positive experience, the “click” that would lead to the launch of Trail Orienteering in Slovenia was still missing.

18th September 2004: a historic day
The year 2004 had arrived and, with it, the Republic of Slovenia became part of the European Union. Winds of progress blew even stronger, affecting all sectors of society and calling attention to the need to create equal opportunities for all. It was in this year that the Sports Union of Ljubljana organised sports events focused on people with disabilities, requesting the support of several Federations. This was just the “click” that Krešo was missing, and it triggered a series of events that proved to be very successful. The first was the organisation of the first TrailO competition in Slovenia (Park Tivoli, Ljubljana, 18th September 2004). Three months later OK Trzin was formed, a club which is now a keystone in Trail Orienteering. Then in 2005 came the start of the Slovenian TrailO League.

But it was not only in Slovenia that things were starting to move. Croatia was represented at the first World Trail Orienteering Championships in Västerås, Sweden through Ivo Tišljar. When he returned to his country, Ivo not only organised a promotional event in Zagreb (Dubravkin, autumn 2004), but also the first official TrailO event in Croatia, the 1st Feud Cup (Dotrščina, in Zagreb, 7th May 2005).

Union creates strength
The 2005 Slovenian TrailO League was a bit limited in scope, with only three competitions, and in Croatia there were only two competitions in that year. So contact between Slovenia and Croatia was made, with the goal of creating a joint league to enhance each others’ organisational efforts and increase the levels of participation. Krešo remembers: “After some discussions in 2005 we founded the Croatia-Slovenia TrailO Cup at a meeting in Domžale on 6th February 2006, where members of OK Trzin (Niko Čižek and Krešo Keresteš) and OK Vihor (Jasminka Cindrić and Zdenko Horjan) were present. At the meeting the rules were written, and in 2006 the Croatia-Slovenia TrailO Cup was a reality with eight competitions, four in Slovenia and four in Croatia.”

In 2008, the year before the World Trail Orienteering Championships in Hungary, the Hungarians joined the Trophy, but their contribution didn’t last more than one year. In 2010 the Italians from the most north-easterly province, Friuli Venezia Giulia, joined the Croatians and Slovenians and the next year the whole of Italy came in. The Croatia-Italy-Slovenia Trail Orienteering Cup started in 2011and has kept the same format ever since. The rules are simple and all are welcome, scoring for the Ranking whether belonging to one of the three host countries or not. Each country (Croatia, Italy and Slovenia) can organise between three and six competitions. The best three results achieved in each country are considered for the final Ranking, but only the six best overall count. At the final competition there is a prize-giving ceremony, rewarding the best competitors in Elite Open, Elite Paralympic, Elite Juniors and A class.


Year Trophy Winner Country
2006 CRO-SLO TrailO Cup Krešo Keresteš SLO
2007 CRO-SLO TrailO Cup Krešo Keresteš SLO
2008 CRO-HUN-SLO TrailO Cup Zdenko Horjan CRO
2009 CRO-SLO TrailO Cup Zdenko Horjan CRO
2010 CRO-FVG-SLO TrailO Cup Zdenko Horjan CRO
2011 CRO-ITA-SLO TrailO Cup Krešo Keresteš SLO
2012 CRO-ITA-SLO TrailO Cup Remo Madella ITA
2013 CRO-ITA-SLO TrailO Cup Remo Madella ITA
2014 CRO-ITA-SLO TrailO Cup Remo Madella ITA
2015 CRO-ITA-SLO TrailO Cup Ján Furucz SVK
2016 CRO-ITA-SLO TrailO Cup Remo Madella ITA

The final standings in the 2016 CRO-ITA-SLO TrailO Cup can be seen here

Joaquim Margarido


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