Surprise, surprise, ...
After a non-promising prologue in the morning, the afternoon chasing start in yesterday's World Cup race in Rotonui brought a positive surprise for me. I finished 29th in the prologue, after some mistakes, missing 2:44min to the fastest man of the prologue, Peter Öberg. Consequently, I didn't have too high expectations for the chasing start. Having a relaxing lunch break in Napier, enjoying some pasta italiana, made by the original italian, Alessio Tenani, I looked forward to the second demanding race of the day, on the open pastures with again many fences to climb.
As the time-gaps were rather small after the prologue, I could always see some runners ahead of me. During the first downhill controls, not much happened around me, the positions were quite the same as at the start, but our group managed to get a little bit closer to some runners ahead, until we had a small mistake to the 6th control. The following controls were fine again and as the bigger group did a lost some seconds to the 10th control, I could see a long queue with many runners up to the 11th control. Risking a little bit towards the 12th one, I could get the "back tail" of this group. Till the map change - finally we got a refreshment control - I steadily improved my position.
Doing some good minor route choices, actually following Matthias Kyburz ;) I saw more and more runners with already one-digit bib numbers. Although everything in my body hurt, I tried to push as hard as possible to the very last meter, which turned out to be very important, as only a fraction of a second decided between the 6th and 7th place, putting me luckily on the 6th place.
I could hardly believe that I got the 6th place in this World Cup chasing start after my morning performance. Chasing start competitions are of course different to other races. I found a good mix between doing my own orienteering and following the right guys in the right moments. Additionally, my running shape in the second race didn't leave much to be desired.
picture by Jan Birnstock
(drawing my route, I was not 100% sure anymore where I ran exactly ;)