Saturday, 20 November 2010

Sprinting around Italy

looking over Italy from San Marino above cloud level
Last weekend I went on a crazy Italian sprint race tour. With a Park World Tour event around the streets of San Marino followed by the annual Venice race, I wasn’t too upset about missing the GB squad planning weekend in the North York moors!
with route
without route

We started off in San Marino running a fairly standard easy course around a steep forest park just outside the main city. I was really pleased with how this race went – probably because I got a minute to look at the map in the start lane, so I had good plans for all controls! The terrain was a bit rough at times both underfoot and bushes, but in other places it was pretty clear. I was a bit lucky finding the tree at number 9 as it was very hidden and the map was a vague resemblance of the ground (I went back afterwards to check it was as mad as first thought!). I was second, about half a minute behind Czech international Sarka Svobodna. I was dead pleased with that.

the castle area around 4-5
After a teaser night event around the lower streets of San Marino city we had the real race on the Saturday. It turned out not to be a Park World Tour race, but that didn’t affect my enjoyment. The views from the warm up area were brilliant and I was buzzing before I even started. Again I got a minute in the start lane to look at the map. I got a bit stuck by number 1 as I didn’t understand the control description. I realised it was on the underpass bit, but the description made it seem like the outside – especially when I saw how number 3 was described. So I wasted about 45 seconds there and in hindsight I should have realised that if it was on the outside then the description would have been building. But after that I really got going. Sarka caught me by a minute by number 5, though she got most of that on the first control and then just reeled me in. We had a great head to head race for most of the course as there were a lot of route choice options – or at least it took ages to find a route, let alone the best one. I finished nicely ahead of her but she still got the win by about 30 seconds.

The grand finale of the weekend was the Venice street race. This had been on the list of “must-do” events for quite a while and it certainly lived up to expectations. 74 minutes of concentration, tourist dodging, bridge jumping, head on collisions...fantastic. I was very nearly late to the start and when I picked up the map I just went “wow”. I stopped for a bit at the start to get a good route and then jogged off, slowly winding up the speed. I still took a wrong alley in my first decision of the race! I definitely got into things more and overall I was pleased with my performance. I ran down the very occasional dead end, but not wasting too much time. I thought my routes were good, but once I had chosen I didn’t look for others, so I could well have lost time there. I ended up about 5 minutes down. I think 2 could be accounted for by my slow start as I felt I really got going by the end.  Maybe there were a few missed route choices or maybe my speed wasn’t fast enough.  My GPS said I ran 14.7km for the 8.7km course. I definitely felt it in the legs the next day - it was a full workout as always changing direction, going up stairs over bridges and jumping down the other side. It totally lived up to expectations, as did the whole weekend.

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