Thursday, July 11, 2013

WOC: Half Time Report

2 distances down 2 to go; we've reached the half way point here at WOC. And as with last year I've had contrasting experiences in the Long and Sprint distances. There'll be a full debrief once I'm back home and emotions have had time to settle, but a few initial thoughts;

Long Qual:

There's no other way of putting it. This was a disaster. Anyone who's talked to me about WOC in the last 6 months will know that I was unsure (to say the least) about the wisdom of running this race. It's too easy to blame my race on lingering doubt over how wise it was to run all 3 races, and how running the long would compromise my sprint and middle. However I also didn't adjust well to the vague vegetation changes in the terrain, and how they were interpreted on the map. After a rookie mistake on the first control, doubt crept into my mind over why I was racing the long. From there, big misses on #4 and #6 shattered my confidence, leading to further mistakes on #8 and #10. I've never had my confidence destroyed so completely on a course before, and it led to me second guessing my every decision. It was literally like a recurring nightmare - navigating fine to the circle, but not having any belief that I could find the control once I got there.
In the end, even after the mistakes on #1, 4 and 6, it was my lack of self confidence that resulted in me not qualifying. A lesson for future years.

Glad to finally be in the finish chute.
Photo: British Orienteering

Sprint Qual:

It was a tough job, but somehow I had to forget about the long and get myself in a mind state ready for the sprint qual on Monday morning. The positive atleast is that sprint terrain is much the same the world over, and relies less on the mapper's interpretation of what they see in terrain. A building is a building, a path is a path - there's no other way of seeing it!
The sprint qual around Vuokatti Holiday Park was fairly fast and furious, with the dozens of identical buildings and gardens making it vital to keep your head up and an eye on where you were headed. I had a pretty average run, the legs feeling it from the long qual a bit. The nerves were definitely there on the first control when I headed in one building too early and the control wasn't sitting there waiting for me! But I managed to hold them down, and lost only a second or two in hesitation. A fairly large mistake followed at 7 however, where I missed a turn among the spectators, and misinterpreted the playground as being the paved area my control was on. Keeping it clean from there to the finish however, had me end up in 7th place and comfortably through to the final. I was disappointed with my mistake, but reassured that my speed and strength were on par with the top qualifiers.
Unfortunately though, as a team we ended up just on the wrong side of the top 15 cut offs, with me being the only kiwi through to the final. (Although the Aussies seemed to judge their quals just right - with 4/5 through to the evening's final, an awesome effort!)

Sprint Final:

The evening's sprint final was a completely different task- raced around the town of Sotkamo, which had been modified with the addition of 40+ fences to introduce more technicality and route choice to the race. Doubts from Sunday completely banished, I thoroughly enjoyed this course. Starting off and finishing inside the baseball stadium infront of 7,000 spectators, with another 2-3 thousand spectating around the course, the atmosphere was something special.  Constantly having to read ahead in the maze of the town, I didn't feel very fast, but felt smooth through the first 2/3rds of the course. On the long leg back over to the stadium, I made the snap decision to go up and over, thinking around looked too far. Deceptive though, as the flatter route, if done well, was the same distance - and on a better running surface. This was the race defining leg - at 16 I was on par with Tess, who ended up 5th after nailing the route choice. My next mistake however was just as costly - after missing the gap in the hedge to get to 19, I then proceeded to also miss the gap in the fence into the stadium to the last control! (Full cringe worthy action all caught on camera, and replayed on gps. Thank you live TV!) Not realising for a good 8-10s, the blunder cost me the lead at the finish line, and a top 10placing overall.
Packed stands for the final 
14th all up. If you'd told me just over 2 years ago that I'd be top 15 at WOC, I'd have been over the moon! Today, I'm happy with it, but also know it should have been something better. However, I'm happy atleast in the knowledge that I have the ability to be on the podium, I just have to do it on the day. The most I can do is keep working hard to give myself the best possible chance of putting it all together on the day!
Punching #19
Oh THERE'S the gap... goodbye top 10.

Awesome to see both Scott and Tessa of GB on the podium!

2nd Half

Now the focus turns to the technical challenge of the middle distance. I'm taking it one race at a time - so at the moment it's all about the middle qualifier tomorrow. The legs have had a couple of days rest which has done them a world of good. I've picked up a bit of a bug since the sprint qual, but that will just have to be dealt with and run through. Here's to the next 3 days!
...And more game face to come!
Photo: Attackpoint

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