Tuesday, 4 October 2011

4th World Cup Final

The 2011 season ended with two weekends of world cup races sandwiching a training camp to prepare for next years world champs. I thought I'd write about it in reverse order - or in order of excitement.

Fast start in Chauz-les-Fonds. 
So, the last race, the World Cup Final sprint around La Chaux-des-Fonds. I was pleased to be running as only the top 40 in the overall world cup qualify so that in itself was quite an achievement for me. If I'm totally honest, I didn't feel particularly ready for the race, I was very tired mentally and physically and I felt like the season should have ended a good few months ago. But I may never get the chance to run in this amazing race with so many spectators and crazy atmosphere so I thought I better give it everything.

I had no special tactics - I just started hard out of the blocks and thought I would keep that going until I died. I surprised myself and I held on till around the 13th control before my legs were screaming at me. I probably had less than 1km to go so short enough that I could make it. I can't think of any time loss - there are some different routes I could have taken, but nothing of major consequence. I was in such a state of oxygen debt that I nearly missed the street to the penultimate control, but just rescued myself in time.

Drollins feeling my pain on the run in

So there I was sat on the red sofa, grinning from ear to ear, checking my map to see which control I must have missed out as the GB team were shouting up to me "guaranteed top 15 ... top 10 ... podium!" It was a fantastic feeling to be up on the stage with such big stars, it more than pays back the hours training this year. I know it will be very hard to repeat this result ever let alone soon but it gives me a huge amount of confidence that one day it might be possible. And the ultimate dream of it being in Scotland at WOC2015...

Seriously excited to be up there

A few links: Event websiteIOF Website, BOF Website
Anyway, working backwards, the day before was a middle distance race in the Swiss Jura. To keep it short, I was awful. Middle distances always seem to get the better of me and I never manage to get any sort of flow going aside from all my major mistakes. I felt quite down after my result here as it was very near the bottom of the list. It feels like there is a mountain to climb for me in terms of my orienteering technique.

Reversing further, the week before was spent near Neuchatel training for WOC 2012. I was taking it easy, trying to save myself for the weekend's races but going out enough to get a feel for the forests and what I need to do before next year. I'm in two minds about the whole experience. Part of me felt like the forests were quite boring in comparison with what Switzerland could offer, however, I still managed to get lost a lot and there is quite a bit of similar terrain in Britain, so maybe that could be to our advantage.

The iconic tower over Liberec
Photo from official event website. Hair cut needed.

And now to where the whole trip started - in Liberec, Czech Republic. A middle distance race followed by a chasing start long distance. I really enjoyed the forest as it was very fast but also a bit challenging with massive rocks and tricky vegetation. My middle distance was true to form with around 5 minutes of time loss but there were sections of it where I felt like a different orienteer to what I had been earlier in the season. Things flowed better and I was able to hit higher speeds than usual. The Long distance was epic with a 2km route choice to the first control. I went for the aggressive line, taking in a bit more climb but less distance as I think I'm a good hill runner. This seemed to work and I caught a few girls who started ahead. We kind of bumbled around together but making mistakes at different controls before we were split at the butterfly. The overall performance was a bit hit and miss - some things good, some not. What I was most proud of was turning the pace up during the last butterfly to narrowly win a race with two Czech girls.

What a week. Nice to be home now, ready to get into winter training and start the whole process again. 2011 has been a massive leap for me.

Thanks to Heather Gardner for all the photos apart from the last one.