I was fortunate enough to keep my Achilles (plural) away from the cold this European winter (until now), which I think went a long way towards me staying relatively injury free. The never-ending torrent of problems that I experienced after France plagued me until only a couple of months before WOC in Switzerland. I learnt to ski over the winter in Finland, it was great to do something that my body could handle (other than aqua-jogging). This provided me with enough base fitness to squeeze in some speed-work close to the World Champs, but even still my physical shape was the worst it had been in years. A bit of experience paid off and I was able to qualify for both the Sprint and Middle finals. My final results were pretty average, but I was pretty happy just to be racing semi-well again :)
|Finish chute at WOC Sprint Final - fastest split - my only claim to fame in 2012 ;)|
Before the icy-rain started to rear its ugly head again, in the end of October I migrated back south to New Zealand. The main reasons to go back so early were to continue mapping for Sprint The Bay and to train and trial for the World Cup races in NZ. This proved to be quite an unstable dynamic, and due to the condition that failure in one of my commitments wasn't optional, the scales were rather lopsided at times :) I did however manage to improve my general fitness and speed quite significantly in the short time before the world cup races. Ultimately I could have stood to be about 5kg lighter, but Mum's cooking in her new kitchen was well worth the burden!
In preparation I managed to drag my ass to a few NZ competitions such as Auckland Champs in Whangarei (which were awesome) & South Island Champs (Didn't go so well, but awesome terrain!). Check out the video below that I made from the gold-mining terrain in Naseby, see if you can spot my 10min mistake - Clue: It's hard to miss :P
The first World Cup race was in a new area of mostly open sand-dunes near Levin. My race was pretty bad technically, but in saying that, it did seem to catch quite a few other people out as well! I made a lot of small mistakes, already by the 2nd control, and a few big ones in the second half of the course. I ended up in a pretty good 26th place.
|Great to see my Auntie Ruth out to cheer us on at the first World Cup race :) (my sister Amber to the left)|
I was a little overwhelmed with the sprint final. I wasn't mentally (or physically) prepared for such a difficult and extreme course, and after making a really bad route choice to the first control it was hard to get my head straight. Like a lot of people I lost most of my time on the big route choice to the 7th control (see maps):
|Through the spectator area on the way to the 6th control in the Sprint Final|
The prologue race at 'The Slump' went poorly. I made some retarded mistakes on my first loop and then pushed too hard and got really tired in the end of the course. I ended up in 37th place, quite far from the leaders (even further after you count their bonus seconds). In between the races I attempted to stay cool, a mango smoothie, McCafe air-conditioning and a swim in the river did the trick :)
|#24 in the chasing start, cliff changed?|
Overall I think the World Cup/Oceania Carnival went very well. It's a huge task for such a small orienteering country with limited resources, and the work put in (mostly by volunteers) often goes unrecognized - so that's a big THANKS! from me to everyone that made it possible for us kiwis to experience World Cup races in our own country :)
Time to relax??? nooooooo, it was time for Sprint The Bay! The event this year went very well from our perspective. Somehow Duncan and I managed to step things up again from previous years (Magazine Bulletin, Model Event, WRE, After-Party, Points competition for all grades etc.), and we still pulled it off without any major screw-ups :) From what we've heard, most people had a good time too! The Yellow Singlet winner in the Elite Men's competition was Matthias Müller (SUI) with rising sprint star Tim Robertson (NZL) in 2nd overall (Pink Singlet Winner for best junior in the elite grade), and Tue Lassen (DEN) in 3rd. The Finns dominated in the Elite Women's competition, with Venla Niemi (FIN) taking out the Yellow Singlet, the gorgeous Hanna Raitanen (FIN) in 2nd and super-sibling of Tim - Laura Robertson (NZL) taking out 3rd place overall, also winning the Pink Singlet in the girls comp. Due to an unfortunate family encounter in 2012 we decided to raise money for breast cancer awareness at STB. We managed to raise $1943.10 NZD (so far) for the New Zealand Breast Cancer Foundation - a big thank you to everyone who contributed! (If you wish to support the cause it's still possible to donate here).
For the STB aftermath, see the following:
STB tribute video by Hawkes Bay Junior Devon Beckman:
Head-cam run-through of Julian Dent (AUS) at STB 2013 Stage 2 at Splash Planet:
Before our daunting flight back to Europe, Hanna and I managed to squeeze in a bit of a 'sprint-holiday' (not sprint orienteering, more of a quick excursion). We went to visit friends in Wellington for a few days and also squeezed in a bit of training. A summer highlight had to be stopping at Otaki Forks on the way back to Hawkes Bay for an epic run on a nice day just to savor the little time we had left in NZ:
I'm back in Finland now, and the long summer is over. Trainings at the moment are a choice between running and skiing. Spring is a bit shy, the snow melts one day and freezes again the next leaving surfaces excitingly icy. Training here seems to hurt my muscles a lot at the moment. I'm not sure if it's from the cold, the slipperiness, the contrast to the temperatures in NZ or a combination of everything, but I feel like I've been beaten up after even the easiest training. We're looking forward to going to Portugal in a few weeks for the training camp I won from Orivents in the worldofo.com 'Course of the Year' competition, then we'll stop by Sweden on the way home for a club 10mila training camp. For now I'll just have to put up with the cold and orienteering trainings at -17°.