Sunday, 28 August 2011
First WOC Experience and Definitely Not My Last
I was fortunate enough to get the opportunity to race in my first World Orienteering Championships in Savoie, France. Although the Long was not the race I particularly wanted a start in, I made the most out of it. Of course I would have preferred to have a start in the Sprint or even the Middle before the Long but it just didn’t work out for me. I did not know what to expect but I knew it would be really tough to qualify or even crack the top 20. Saturday August 13th came and my first WOC race the Long Distance Qualifier dawned on me. The first start was at 13:10 and I started at 13:28, so I knew it was going to be hot, hot, hot even though the start was around 1400m above sea level. I knew that there was going to be a fair bit of open meadow running based on the course notes and in order for the winning times to be accurate which made me feel better about the race knowing that there would be some less technical parts with faster running. One of the things coach Magnus was stressing was compass, compass, compass, always look at your compass. It probably was the best advice he could have given myself and the team. Before my start I was constantly telling myself compass, compass, compass and to take it easy and safe to the first control which I did. I nailed the first control and got into a nice rhythm early on and kept it going until the course got into the more tricky terrain just over half way through. By this time I was getting tired after the huge climb going to control #7 which turned out not to be the best route choice. This is when the small mistakes started to happen and my concentration was fading. I was having trouble judging the distance in the forest and I consistently was not going far enough. On my way to control eight I was stung by 3 to 4 wasps or bees which was irritating but my adrenalin was so high that I did not notice it much at all. Immediately after it happened the first thing besides some profanity was I hope Thierry is not coming on this exact route haha. Later in the course Olle Boström the young Swedish star came blowing by me heading into control #10 only to stop shortly after and ask me if I was looking for code 72. This stunned me because someone of that calibre asking me where I am going is unusual. I could maybe see someone else asking me but a Swede, no way. Anyways I told him I was looking for 72 and we both continued on to the same control and he soon left me in his dust. By the time I reached the finish chute I was physically and mentally wrecked but somehow managed to find some more energy since there were so many people cheering. Nothing can compare to the feeling of running down that finish chute despite how exhausted I was. I managed to make it back with no major mistakes which was one of my big goals. I felt like I had a pretty good race but it did not show in the results like I thought it would. I think I got stuck with one of the hardest heats (Heat B) because if you compare my time to the other heats it should have slotted me into about 26th or 28th place not 30th which I ended up in my heat. I guess it does not really matter because I would not have made the final either way. Thierry Gueorgiou crushed everyone in my heat winning by over six minutes. I guess you could say I was 34 minutes behind the World Champion that is about the only claim to fame I have. Besides taking a bad route on the long leg and losing some time here and there I think the race went as well as it could have for me considering my training and running speed. Of course I could have had a faster race with some better route choices and fewer mistakes but can’t we all say that. I will remember my first World Orienteering Championships in Savoir, France, 2011 for the rest of my life.