One week after WOC…
… it’s time for me to look back. How was my preparation, what was the outcome and what's next?
After some promising performances in New Zealand’s World Cup races not everything went smoothly after coming back to Europe. Dealing with some small injuries, resting, training, resting, training,… I didn’t get a clue what the reason for my muscle/tendon problem in the hip was. However, it was not that bad that I couldn’t run at all (except of 4 weeks in March/April), but it’s not a nice feeling if you go out running and you don’t know if and when the pain will come. Once the hip was fine, the ankle made some problems. After his recovery the hip-pain celebrated a comeback with the beginning of the Nordic Tour, but at least it didn’t dare to make competing impossible. Technically it went fine there but I realized that my running shape needed some boost if I wanted to get better results at WOC.
After NORT, selection races, training camp and Jukola I came back to Sweden, where my coach Andi set up his plan to get me in a good Championship condition. As the weeks before, my body didn’t feel too comfortable, more tired, slowly, although I was not training that much, but the credo was to be patient and to focus on the orienteering-technic during the last days before WOC start.
In my 10th WOC I was back on the shorter distances, sprint, middle and relay, with the focus more on middle and relay.
Starting with the sprint, the goal was, of course, first qualify for the final and then go for it, as a tricky sprint was to be expected. With a short moment of insecurity to the 5th, I got a safe qualification.
The final offered a complex fence labyrinth, with a route choice to nearly every control, it was like a lottery, quite unlikely to get them all right. After two wrong decisions but otherwise a solid race, I found myself on the 23rd place in total, 8sec after the 15th, what showed how close the gaps were again (similar as in NORT). Well, a 23rd place is not changing someone’s world totally…
After watching the Long final, yeah Jani!!!, and a chilling rest day, the mission middle distance began. The qualification race was the real challenge, especially the first control offered potential for huge mistakes. Sent into the forest with the right mood by our coach I got a satisfying start, well, I didn’t hit each control straight forward, but I came with a more or less fluent performance through the course and with a good feeling into the finish, putting me on the 9th place in my heat. l I thought to be better ranked, but that was also fine, reaching the middle distance final is not a “self runner”.
The forest of the final was not that difficult as the one from the qualification but still far away from easy. Anyway, the plan was to start aggressively and keep the start pace as long as possible. Talking about the technic, I saw everything I wanted to see in the forest, took mostly a good direction and got good around the first part. The 10th control looked difficult, but with a strict compass running I got it smoothly. A strict compass running would have prevented me from a mistake to the 11th, adding unnecessary seconds to my running time. Starting early in the final increases the possibility to pass the finish line as a new leader,.
Yesss, indeed I got a very nice and loud welcome from the crowd. But much sooner than hoped, I was kicked from the leading position. Reaching the 15th place in the end, I got another good WOC result, which again did not lead to a sharp increase in my income ;)
Losing more than one minute on the long leg to the 7th control, although running nearly exactly the same route as Bergman, revealed that my physical condition must be better (same old story).
Relay: After some years I was back on the first leg in a WOC relay. Opening the map and making a quick scan of the course, my tactic was to fight as hard as possible to stay with the pack until the 4th control, because afterwards the most climbing and the long legs lay behind and the technical part with shorter legs ahead. Said than done. Coming closer and closer to the change over I was still among the favorite teams. Losing just a few seconds to the first legs fastest time set by M.M. I sent Heli G. on the 4th position on his leg, which increased my hopes that we might improve my best WOC relay place (12th from 2012). Heli G. did a good job and not even an injury stopped him that day (I hope it's not too bad). Robi M. kept his head cool and kept our team on the 10th place, finally, a Top-10 Relay place :)
About the relay: of course I understand that not started runners should not be able to see the screen, but hiding them totally from the scenery, is not the way it should be in my opinion. And those teams who were a few minutes more behind the leader were able to watch the screen and thus the forking anyway, so what? Here I see still room for improvement. The not started runners should get at least the possibility to watch their team mates fighting into the arena. Women’s last leg runners: “Oh, is here a relay going on? Yeah, of course, I can hear the speaker” :)
With my 10th WOC in my legs, I got more calmness. Results are not everything, but the dream of performing well and winning a WOC medal keeps my motivation alive. Why not next year…
Before the mission WOC 2014 is launched, the plane will bring our Austrian team to Columbia. There, we will experience our first World Games ever.
Hasta la proxima.
picture by Aapo Laiho