A dream came true
Today, I can look back on two unforgettable days in Brasil. So far, my best position at Military World Championships was a 8th place on the long distance in 2008. As every year, I tried to improve my best performance.
On Tuesday, the short distance (4,3km; 120 climbing meters) was scheduled. I felt quite comfortable this day and was very motivated (as usually). I had a good start, picking one control after another, and got a good feeling for the terrain (wrong route choice to control 4). Unfortunately, I was unsecure to control 8 in the butterfly, which direction to go, decided for right, instead of left and did an extra loop. However, I continued to fight hard and surprisingly, I had the fastest time of the day until then. Exciting minutes were ahead, as still many excellent runners were out in the forest, but one after another was slower. Except of one, Simonas Krepsta, who took a relative clear lead (25 seconds) which he shouldn’t lose any more. Anyway, I won a medal, that was excellent and the first Austrian medal in orienteering at Military World Championships. Thanks to a good team performance, we took the fifth intermediate place, close to silver and bronze.
Yesterday, on the long distance, I wanted to make another good race, knowing that I would need an excellent run to get a similar position at all. Similar to the middle distance, I got a good feeling for the terrain from the beginning. I think, there were no challenging or decisive route choices, except to control 13, where the route straight under line over the yellow, green stripped area was not the best, as the runability was poor. I stayed longer on the path and passed the valley, where the runability was excellent. In general, it was not always easy to say with the information from the map, if the runability at a certain place is good or not. “White” forest was not always “white forest. Until the spectators control, I had a mistake-free race and still good feeling legs. Controls 19, 20, 21 were fine. I did what I did the whole course, focusing on one control after another. But to control 22, something went wrong. I thought to be already in the valley which should guide me down to the control. But there was no control, I continued along the culture border, but after some seconds I had the feeling to be already to be too far. So I turned and ran back along the green border until a specific knoll, which I knew, should be on the map. Then, I realized where I was, that I obviously turned just a few meters before the control. I headed forward to the valley and down to the control. It would have been so easy. At that moment, I could have started to cry… I gathered my last energy, took control 23 and headed down to the final open area, trying to pull out everything of my legs. My team colleagues were really loud, so it seemed to be a good race again. And it was, again, best time so far.
As some strong runners were still out in the forest, I was very unsecure if it was enough for a medal again. And then, someone told me that Kowalski was already faster at the spectators control and I did a two minutes mistake on the last loop. Taivainen was with him, thus third place maximum possible. As I was selected for the doping control, I already could have gone to the toilet during the race, I decided to wait not any longer and disappeared with my coach Max in the doping control “labs”. Some minutes later, everything was done, and we lefte the “labs”, seeing coach and runner Stephan waiting with the camera in his hand, ready to make some pictures. And there were the team colleagues, smiling, but saying no word about the final outcome. They just tried to throw me into the air and then they told me, I became World Champion – wow! Unbelievable, still unbelievable….
Also the team showed a good performance again and we could improve, but we missed bronze by only 24 seconds.
I still have to realize what happened, but I know, that at WMOC it also depends on the starting field and that I took this chance this time. It was good to see countries in the starting field who were never seen before at such orienteering championships, as Jamaica, Indonesia, North Korea, to name a few. That’s why the courses seemed to be slightly easier, but still offering enough controls to lose valuable time.
Tomorrow, the relay will conclude the orienteering competitions. We will see what’s possible…