Run race ((orienteering)) 57:43  *** 7.9 km (7:18 / km) +150m 6:40 / km
Venice was always likely to be a race to remember, and so it proved. I went in not totally confident about the way I was running, but thinking that, apart from being a unique orienteering experience, this was likely to suit me competitively - my record in Mediterranean town sprints (notably at WMOC 2008) suggests that the intensity of decision-making it requires is a strength, so having to do it over a longer distance had a fair chance of being a greater one.
Most of the warm-up was reasonably routine, but in the pre-start box I suddenly felt a bundle of energy - to the point that I almost failed to notice the check box and couldn't stand still on the -1 minute line for more than a couple of seconds - and this converted to an opening 15 minutes in which I was as pumped as I've been for a race, probably, since the aforementioned WMOC 2008 final, feeling like surging every time the alleyways opened up enough to allow it (this wasn't always the way in the early controls, which had the bulk of the heavy pedestrian-congestion areas).
Perhaps it was inevitable that I couldn't quite sustain that intensity, either physically or mentally. The zip was no longer there after 8 although I was still running solidly, and at 10 I made my first mistake, not noticing an uncrossable fence (it was in grey which made it a bit harder to notice) and losing 15 seconds or so. What could have been a more significant mistake happened at 12 when I missed a turnoff, potentially a mortal sin here, but it was fortunate that I had the option of going the other two sides of the diamond and probably lost little if any time. Tired a bit at the end - the 58 bridge crossings would have contributed to this - and certainly couldn't match it with the Austrian M14 who punched the last control with me, but a good solid run.
Ended up 10th in a decent M40 field (Janne Salmi won in just under 51). An early start would have been a bit of an advantage as the streets would have been clearer, but I don't think it would have been worth more than a couple of minutes (a really late start, as people went to lunch, wouldn't have been a bad slot either). Our km rates were actually competitive with the elites (Janne with the winner Jonas Gvildys, mine with first-proper-long-run-for-six-weeks Jules) so I'm assuming they had to take some wider route choices than anything we did. Gareth also ran well enough (two minutes down on Jules) to suggest he'll be a useful addition next year to whichever National League team he runs for.
And at the end of the day I finally got a taste of the dreaded Venetian acqua alta - in the changerooms of the sports centre showers.
Now on a pretty crowded train back to Geneva; I hadn't expected it to be crowded at this time of year, but then I guess the current state of the Swiss franc makes the idea of a weekend shopping expedition to Milan pretty attractive.