Wednesday, 17 July 2013

O-no! last (real) WOC


A lot of things have to come together to perform well at WOC, and after 8 years I have yet to get everything right. I think I have managed to slowly make progress with my orienteering over the years, however, this time around things seemed to unravel rather than culminate - making it my worst WOC (result-wise) since Denmark in 2006. It's especially annoying to have this 'bad year' when due to the new changes by the IOF it could be the last chance I get to compete in a WOC middle or long. It's a real shame for us, when New Zealand now has a lot of talented up and coming junior runners (3 different JWOC podium results in the last 3 years) that are going to have a very hard road ahead of themselves to make it internationally in forest orienteering. The changes make it that much harder for smaller orienteering nations to get good results at a world champs. As for the development of orienteering in non-developed orienteering countries - a lot of national orienteering federations aren't well recognised by their governments and are limited financially because of this. Reducing the chance of getting WOC medals greatly reduces the chance of federations and athletes receiving the funding they need, for both high-performance and for the development of orienteering in their respective countries. It feels to me like WOC is now EOC and we have 'luckily' gained special acceptance to compete in the sprint events. Hmmm, it will be interesting to see how this all plays out...

I won't go into the boring details of why exactly my WOC went so badly, but I didn't manage to perform (physically) at anywhere near the level that I had prepared for. I ran the sprint and middle individual races and missed both finals. I also ran poorly on 1st leg in the relay. I am quite upset (and a little embarrassed) about my results, but there were also some positive things which I am choosing to focus on instead now.

A big disappointment was not to make it to the sprint final. I prepared a lot for that race and think it was very much my kind of sprint. My body wasn't working properly in the qual and I literally almost felt like dying after 3-400m into the course. The feeling was distracting and caused me to make some small mistakes which actually cost me making it to the final (I thought I would be well from the cut-off at that pace). Oddly enough though, I was a little relieved not to make the final as I wouldn't have liked to compete with that 'bad running-dream' feeling anyway. I was already thinking about this while I was trying to survive in the qual so I didn't really enjoy myself at all.

Sprint Qual ResultsGPS

Hmm.. a bit of a waste of my time!
I managed to swallow hard and go to watch the final race, which I'm really glad I did! It was an amazing atmosphere in the event centre, with Mexican waves and all! :D Our own Lizzie Ingham, despite some mistakes, managed to get another great WOC result in 14th place. It was unforgettable to witness Måre's victory on home soil, especially when I know it has been a long term goal of his which I have seen him working incredibly hard towards, especially over the last year - congrats!

The middle qual could have been a great run, but good one Ross - you totally muffed it! I had decided to take it easy - the terrain was very tricky and I knew I could qualify even if I wasn't feeling myself physically - because I knew everyone would make mistakes. I started quite well, I ran much slower than normal in the first (quite tricky) part of the course and only lost 5-10 seconds - then everything fell apart on the 6th control. I think I made a good route choice and had good attack points, but I misread the terrain quite close to the control. I thought I was running below some cliffs in the re-entrant after the track, but I was actually just above them (sometimes it's easy in this terrain to make yourself see what you want to see...). I noticed the hills that were to my left (the ones just before the control) and remember thinking that they shouldn't be there, but I was overconfident and kept running. I soon stopped when things didn't match and looked for something to relocate off, and voila! - there was a giant anthill in front of me - search the map - oh crap there aren't any marked - I was a bit annoyed to find out after my race that they had used the special symbol in the Kainuun Rastiviiko but had decided not to use it for the WOC maps - that would have totally saved me. Oh well...
Anthills on public race map, but not WOC map :(
6th control
At that point I panicked a little and ran back. I found another cliff that was on the edge of the circle but I was in too much of a hurry to notice it on the map and then ran around some more. When I finally calmed down for a few seconds I was able to realise my mistake and hurry back to the control. At this point I had a totally unnecessary train of thought. I decided to start running fast because in previous years when I had made a mistake that big I would have had no chance of qualifying without doing something special.
8th control
Unfortunately I didn't know that I was still well placed to make the final even after my 2.5min mistake. I slightly missed the 7th but it wasn't too bad. I planned to run hard at the same height to the cliffs below the control, but I somehow went downhill and was really confused and nearly at the 9th control. This mistake ended up being even bigger - 3 minutes. Even still I could have made the final from here! But by this point I was freaking out. I ran pretty fast for the rest of the course but lost small amounts of time in the circle at 9 and 10 and missed the final by 49 seconds :(

Middle Qual Results & GPS

Middle Qual - Last Control (Photo: Jan Kocbach WoO)
Relay guess - not too far off :)
The relay was the icing on the cake - although I was determined to redeem myself from my earlier poor performances - we don't always get what we want! :) I nearly missed the first control losing 10-15sec, just enough to get a little bit behind and stressed. I got distracted by other runners and numerous other controls on the way to 2 when I was trying to catch up and lost a lot of time. I also lost a bit on 3. The rest of the race I was mostly alone and it went OK but I was losing time just by being alone. I lost a minute or so on the 8th control and came back in 22nd place. Tane had some big mistakes too and Tim ran alright and we ended up in 26th place (one worse than last year).

Relay Results & GPS

The banquet was probably my best performance (or worst depending on which way you look at it), I mustn't have been very focused because I lost a lot of time there too ;)

The positive side of things was that I had glimpses of some good orienteering, I just need to make it last a bit longer! Despite the bad results, I got to run in some nice terrain and on great new maps and I had moments where I was really enjoying myself.

Positive note - Good starts
I had some similar experiences during WOC trainings too. I got to see some really nice terrain near Joensuu when I went there for Finnish WOC trials, so I wouldn't say this was all a waste of time :) See what I mean:



It's a couple of days since I got back to Jyväskylä and I'm a bit sick now - just got kicked in the nuts with a flu virus on top of everything else, but compared to the standard post-WOC feeling I'm actually much more motivated to get back into training than usual and to get some good results!

Next week I'll hopefully be well enough to run Oringen up in Boden, but if not it will make for some nice training at a super-elite level :P



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