Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Switzerland - World Champs (2 out of 4)

11th in the world - that's a nice thing to be able to say. Something that even two years ago, I genuinely never believed I would be able to say.

Photo from worldofo.com
See also the athlete page
The World Orienteering Championships 2012 were always going to be a bit funny for me this year. I have been totally focussed on the sprint distance as I felt that, given my other commitments (like starting to do more mountain races and starting to work full time), I'd rather focus on one distance and do it well than split my efforts and risk doing nothing in anything. Also, my lack of holiday meant that I had to make my priorities clear. I flew to Switzerland on the Wednesday before the sprint race to have a few days relaxing in Lausanne beforehand. I then returned to Scotland on Sunday and am trying to keep up to date with the results while at work this week.

The sprint qualifier could have been quite an interesting start to the day. We had seen that there were was the possibility of a really tricky sprint as the campus had 3 levels on it and lots of stairs and entrances. However, with the assurances that it would all be obvious from the map and there would be no risk of protests, we guessed that it might be an easy course. Run hard, no risks, check the codes. That's pretty much how my race went. I raced hard but not maximally making sure I was fully in control. I was pleased to qualify in 6th position in my heat. Job done.

Photo from Martin Ward
See the rest of the photos here
The sprint final was a fantastic experience. We started in a quite corner of a university campus and it was only on my way to the 3rd control did I get a hint of what I was about to run into. It seems everyone in the town had seen the start list. I wasn't just getting cheered round every corner, I was being name checked "Allez Tessa!" by everyone - marshalls, little kids, picnicking families. I then hit the arena. Now that was some noise. The second half of the course went back into the relative quietness but I was still aware of the roar in the arena as other runners ran through. Soon I was back there myself on the finishing straight as spectators hit the advertising boards and I gave everything. Then it was all over.

Although I ran well, I wasn't very happy with my technical performance. I went out too hard at the start and lost time on a tricky number 1. I seem to have lost time on number 2 as well, I think a bad route choice made in a hurry. I got into a rhythm and picked up but then made another mistake on the way to number 10 where I missed a set of stairs.

The tricky start
So I'm looking back on the race with mixed feelings. Obviously I am over the moon with the result, but it's hard to be totally satisfied when I think about my mistakes. Being realistic, I couldn't have really done much better. I've improved my sprint orienteering a lot this season, I ran 16 of the 19 controls far faster than I could have this time last year. But I haven't got it all sorted and as is often the case, an increase in the speed also leads to more mistakes.

A great day and a great result, but hopefully just another step on the ladder.