It's now close to a month since I left Denmark for the 2009 World Games in Kaohsiung, Taiwan. I have no idea what happened to these last 3 weeks. I am in the middle of packing my bags for WOC in Hungary and I realised I better smack something down on my blog about WG before my short memory gets the best of me!
I met the rest of the NZ team (Darren Ashmore, Tania Larsen (ex. Tania Robinson) and Lizzie Ingham) in Hong Kong a few days early. The idea was to get used to the heat and the humidity and do a few technical trainings on the local parks.
It was my first time in any Asian country so it was quite a culture shock for me. The population density was crazy. Families packed into the tiniest of apartments. I really enjoyed my self though. Just the task of finding our way to training each day was an exiting adventure. Even when Tania was mucking around and caused us to get separated from the others in the subway, I still couldn't find anything to complain about :P
Next we moved onto Taiwan. I could write forever on the next few days, but I'll try and keep it brief. We all managed to get accredited without any hiccups, then shunted off to our hotel. We had to take buses for a minimum of 20min each way to get our dinner and lunches. I must say however, it was definitely worth the trip. A nice big buffet of anything an athlete could want. Plus a chance to gawk at the body builders and some of the other sports teams.
The model event, for sprint, middle and relay, was on a very small central park. We were able to jog there from the hotel. It seemed a little cooler than in Hong Kong, but still like running in a sauna. The map seemed to be pretty good. Darren and I jogged around most of the controls to have a chat about it, but mostly just to look cool and psych out all the other teams.
That night was probably the best part of the trip. The opening ceremony! Having to leave the hotel at 4.30pm and be mostly on our feet until 11pm the day before the sprint was a compromise worth making. We didn't get to see all of the acts in the beginning of the ceremony, but walking into the stadium with 40000 screaming people was something I might only have the chance of doing once in this life. We even managed to get on TV just after Hayley Westernra finished singing Pokarekare Ana. We were also privileged to inhale the smoke from a pretty impressive fireworks display.
The next morning it was time to put our serious hats on. I have a lot of problems with the heat in the past. So instead of trying to sneak a peak at all the girls running their sprint I chose to sit in the airconditioned tent and feed ice to my scrotum. My race went pretty well. I wasn't quite as in control as I would have like to have been. I lost 5 seconds or so on the 2nd, 7th and 8th controls, and about 20 seconds on the 5th. After about the 13th control I could feel myself starting to slow up. The heat was killing me. It was a real battle, but I really pushed myself to try and keep a reasonable tempo until the finish. This paid off big time. I was in the lead at the time I finished. I could see all the top guys were also feeling the burn coming through the spectator control. I only had to watch 9 guys come in to beat my time. I ended up in 10th place. My best placing (so far) in a world level event. That combined with having a nice cold coke in one hand is one of the best feelings :) I have to say though, I think I can fully attribute my new performance level to all the new Dirty D O-gear we got. By far the most comfortable and cool looking o-gear around at the moment! xox
Next morning was the middle distance. The event was on a 1:5000 sprint map, but with middle distance rules. That meant we could go through everything except olive green. My race wasn't as good as the day before. I made mistakes on #'s 3,7,9,10,11 and 13. So after a bad start I made up a few places to end up in 18th place. Still a great result for me!
The relay was without a doubt my best run. I ran the first leg and started out hard. Unfortunately I had the longer forkings throughout the course. I finished in 9th place but only 1min 29sec behind the Russian leaders. With only one mistake (nearly going the wrong way around the last loop - I realised at the radio control) I was very satisfied with my run and was able to sit down, relax, enjoy a big fat Taiwanese beer and watch the rest of the relay. Our team did really well, despite having 2 old fogies. We finished in 11th place only 11mins down on the winners. A great result for NZ!!!
The closing ceremony wasn't as spectacular as the opening one. It was a delightful evening spent partying in a secluded bar with the Brits and the Aussies whilst hustling drinks off a chubby little Taiwanese lady named 'big mama'.
On the way home I stopped by oringen to see my little sister Kate. I managed a couple of jet lagged races on the open 9 course. It was nice to run in a real forest again :)
Now I guess I better get back to packing!