WOC Long 59th
. The link text is absolutely horrific.
I was in a great place mentally and really ready for this race. After IOC and selection races I wasn't sure that I would be up for it physically but after working with coach Jonny I felt I had made good progress and was in a position where I could race most of this.
Started ok, knew there would be a long leg to 2 from the descriptions and tried to look at it going to the start kite once I saw 1 was easy enough. Think I picked a good route, very similar to Olav but it wasn't the safest and I was a bit wobbly into the control, losing some time (maybe 1 min?) going via 3. I caught my 2 and 4 min men at 2 though and took my first gel so that was a nice confidence boost. Had been to 3 so had no problems but I was caught 4 mins by an Australian at 3 too. My 2 min man hung with him and I stayed for a bit but by the road they were gone. Chinese guy sprinted past me up a hill on this track.
Wasn't that sure what to do for the last bit and picked straight. Top guys did this again which is nice to know. Straight to 5 then and took my second gel at whichever of these controls had drinks. The short controls were grand, just straight compass while I picked left and around to 8. When I did get to this road my legs didn't really want to pick up the pace. I tried and moved ok for bits but as I got into the forest I started to feel a bit weird in my stomach. Put it aside while I focused on getting 8, which I did quite well. Decided another gel was not a good idea but went for a sip of water. As soon as I swallowed I got a fierce stomach cramp and bent over in agony. It went away after about 10s but signs were bad. Little but unfocused to 9 but got it ok. Missed the safer path around to 10 as a result though and lost my line in some green, dropping 45s looking for it. My speed was dropping now and while I got 11 fine, had two guys come past me to 12, one of them started 2 mins behind me so he seemed like he could be close to my ability. I stayed with them a bit on the down but in the marsh I stood on a tree that broke, tore my trousers, destroyed my shoe and left me draped over another log with my head and feet submerged in marsh.
Then the next phase began; survive. The hill to 12 was brutal but upon receiving my new map I got a burst of energy seeing there wasn't actually that much left and went straight for 13 which was a good choice. Straight for 14 and I was going ok until the big climb to 14. My shoe was being annoying with the sole flapping but I ignored it, thinking the first aid at 14 would have tape. They didn't so I just tore it off. Caught the South African Michael Crone, then in the forking. I was not confident this time round, with some wobbles and hesitation and probably lost another minute. Having company brought me some energy though and moved ok to 18 and 19. Was still ahead until the big hill to 20 where he ran away. Could still see him in the fields then. Little bit left on 20 but fine. 21 was scary with the green but I made it easy and caught the Crone again. We had a great conversation at 21 which just consisted of the f word said with varying degrees of intonation and stress. It lasted shorter this time as he ran away once we had made the choice to go left.
Having already been in survival this run through was the end. Ruth offered a gel and I took it as I felt I needed something. Was nearly stopped going up the hill and had no idea what was happening really. Reached a downhill flight of stairs in the forest once out of sight and just couldn't do them. Had to stop for a second. After I got going and was nearly to 23 I started cramping with my left hamstring not playing ball. This loop was just horrible. I made it though and got up the hill a second time to collapse over the line.
Orienteering was good. I have to be pleased with that I think. My routes were a lot of the time the best ones or close to it for the top guys. Maybe for me going around would be better but I'm not sure. I was silly with the gels. I assumed that the drinks would be every 25 mins for the leaders, thus about 30 mins for me. At 5 I was after having two gels in 50 mins which was too much for me and I kinda paid for it later on. The shoe was annoying but there wasn't anything I could do about that. The fall would have wrecked a brand new pair I think. The aftermath was rough, very rough. Stopping twice on the drive home, 1st to get sick and second for an emergency toilet stop. Eventually I managed to eat dinner and start preparing for the relay.
There is work to do, but I can take a lot of positives. I had confidence in me and was not hugely nervous before the start. Another winter of training in Sweden, this time being a bit more sensible with a coach and I should be in a very strong position. Now the relay!