This was the second time I’ve run in the European Champs (the last time in 2008), unfortunately now I’m in the worst shape I’ve been in for some years, but I decided to race anyway and chance getting some World Cup points in the sprint so I could race in the Post Finance sprint next month – but alas, things did not go according to plan 😛
My first race was the middle distance qualification. This was perhaps my best race, I didn’t make any big mistakes but just lacked the physical condition and leg speed to push hard throughout the race on what was admittedly quite an easy course (Click on the thumbnail to see the full map with route choice and results).
The sprint qual was very disappointing for me. I thought that I might be able to have a good enough run to make the final if I really pushed myself, but I had a bad start to the race. I lost time on the 4th control where the map was a bit poor – there was a canopy I hoped to pass through right before control but it was some kind of bus stop type thing with a solid back-side which confused me. I only lost a few seconds there, but lost my flow as well. I hastily raced off to the 5th control and fell into (queue dramatic music) THE TRAP, after this I stressed and ran really hard along the street and up the hill to the control. I didn’t lose too much time on that leg,
but my body couldn’t handle the sudden physical exertion that I can usually withstand and I suffered through the rest of the course losing huge chunks of time just on running speed.
After failing to make the cut for 2 A finals I decided to whip out my head cam and get some footage of the cool terrain in the B-finals. The middle final was really tough and steeper than I expected, I tried to save something for the sprint so this water-logged video is not as exciting as it could have been:
The sprint final, much like the qual, was a true runners course – which doesn’t suit me at all at the moment! It was quite fun in the beginning – it was something new and I had fun rolling down the hill (with great momentum 😉 ), but the choice of terrain was rather poor for such an important event and it seemed that they had to force areas that would normally be passable to be impassable just to make the course more interesting. The course was (in my opinion) very boring after the map change, but still probably the best it could have been in that terrain. I didn’t like the use of the motor-park with all the purple stripe, I think it was a bit desperate to use that area – it was unfairly mapped: as you can see from the video, my route choice should have been very fast to the 11th control where I planned to run more directly through the yellow part, but I had to weave through the unmarked motor-homes that were actually mapped as purple stripe on the other side of the drive-way – weird. There was no tape around the purple striped area like there should be, you can see an unused roll of tape on the ground just after the 10th control – if it was rolled up before the B-finalists even finished then that’s really rude! – especially when the B-final was a WRE! There were other small things that annoyed me such as the last control being placed much too close to the feature (less than 5cm by the looks of it!), but I think I’ve complained enough – if you want to hear more about the sprint, read Anne Margrethe Hausken Nordberg’s blog post about her disqualification. Sorry for all the negativity, but coming from NZ we have to pay top dollar out of our own pockets to run in these competitions, and I don’t think it’s unfair to expect something better! – perhaps I wouldn’t be so bitter and would have enjoyed it a bit more if I could have run a bit faster, and it would have been nice if the B-Final was before the A-Final so there could have been some spectators.
In the end, I didn’t go into EOC with any huge expectations – I just wanted some top-level racing experience without re-aggravating any of my injuries this early in the season. Although it was a little depressing to bum out in the quals, I didn’t hurt myself much and sitting here a week later I can say I feel a lot stronger already, so mission accomplished! Now that I can run again without pain I seem to be getting faster and faster all the time. Even at 6kg over my normal weight, I’m already nearly able to handle a flat urban sprint, it’s quite exciting really! Perhaps I’ll even surpass my form from WOC last year! – hopefully in time for NORT, but at least in time for the World Cup races and Sprint the Bay in NZ in January!