At WOC 2018 in Latvia I finally got my debut on an individual forest competition, and I am satisfied with the resulting 9th place in the middle distance. My race was technically good, with only some minor mistakes and some non-optimal route choices, and I am happy that I was able to pull out such a good performance on day X. My performance in the sprint final (and qualification), however, was not as good as I expected from myself, and with the 23rd place I am far from satisfied. Therefore, I was very eager to show that I can run well in sprint when I got the chance to run the 1st leg as a reserve the day after, and I am very happy with how I could turn the disappointment in the sprint to a good performance in the sprint relay. I changed over to Øystein Kvaal Østerbø (2nd) with the lead in 3rd position, and with good performances also from him, Håkon Jarvis Westergård (3rd) and Andrine Benjaminsen (4th) we were in the fight for the medals all the way to the finish line, and got a good 4th position in the end!
To start from the end: I finally got my chance to run an individual forest race at WOC with the middle distance on Tuesday 7th of August. My preparations were good, and felt I knew how I wanted to attack the green, partly diffuse Latvian forest: solid plans for each leg, accurate compass usage, and thereby having confidence in my direction and that the details I want to see will come. This tactic worked out well, and I came through the middle distance without any control mistakes. However, it felt very controlled, and when I came to the finish I was not sure if I had taken too little risk and if I maybe could have attacked more. Anyway I was very happy with my clean race, and I also got the chance to sit in the leader chair for about 5.5minutes before my time was beaten. Because I started very first in the second last starting group (consisting of 15people, and the last group has 10people), I had to wait quite some time before I knew what my race was good for, but I hoped a top 10 which was my goal would be possible. And it was! In the end I got a good 9th position, only 2:42 min behind the winner Natalia Gemperle (RUS), 48s from bronze, and 27s from the podium (top 6). The other Norwegian girls also performed well getting all into top 10 with Marianne Andersen 8th, and Andrine Benjaminsen (10th). Also very fun to watch Eskil Kinneberg winning gold among the men!
Middle distance. Photo: Janis Ligats.
Two days earlier I got the chance to jump in as a reserve on the sprint relay when Sigrid Alexandersen had to drop out due to an injury. I was put on the first leg, and used the hours after the individual sprint and before the relay to get a more detailed look on the competition area (old maps/google street view), the competition instructions as well as talking to my teammates including Sigrid to know what to expect. During warm-up I went from extremely nervous, to feeling ready and calm, and back to being nervous, but in the end I felt ready and I knew how I wanted to run this first leg. At the start signal I knew I needed to use the time well to get into the map before the start point which was very close after the start. I wanted to go left, and looked if someone else wanted to join, and was happy when some teams including Sweden headed left. From there on I run a race in which I always had my race under control, I knew which route I wanted to run, and executed it well. This way I was able to keep in touch with the leading pack all the way, despite some of the runners being physically stronger. I made one small mistake in the 2nd half when I did not check the control position good enough (10s), but the rest of the race was good, and it was nice to run in towards the chance over as 3rd, and changing over only 5s behind the lead. My strong teammates, Øystein, Håkon and Andrine, also performed well, and it was exciting following the relay and the fight for the medals. We were in this fight all the way, and even though we ended up without a medal, we were satisfied with the 4th place!
Sprint relay. Photo: Ivar Haugen
Sprint relay. Photo: Janis Ligats
Sprint relay. Photo: Janis Ligats
My WOC started with the sprint qualification on Saturday morning in the city of Riga. I got my first control well, but out of it I rounded a house which I did not plan, and was lost for some seconds until I could relocate (some 10s lost). After that I found well into the race again, and found my controls as I planned. But on the long leg to control 13 I did not see that my route had a forbidden/impassable wall and first realized when I saw it on the path in front of me. I had to turn around and run around the building, and I thereby lost a lot of time on this leg (30s). Irritated, but I was still able to refocus and run well the rest of the course. In the end I was nr 8 in my heat, ca 1min behind Maja Alm (Denmark).
Sprint qualification. Photo: Mareks Galinovskis.
WOC sprint final was held in the UNESCO Old Town of Riga, as expected there was a lot of tourists in the streets, and a bit difficult stone bricks on the ground. I felt ready, even though I was nervous, and looked forward to get my map. I found my route to the first control fast, but out of the start triangle I had to fight through rows of spectators who blocked the street. I had thought the organizers would help us, but at least I knew this could happen and did not lose my focus. A lot of things happening with cars and tourist on the way to the first control (why did the organizers not block all traffic?), but I found it without problems. To the 4th control I chose the slower route choice (lost about 10s), but executed it well. At the 5th control I stood a little while to decide where to run on the long leg, but apparently not enough since I again chose the longer and slower route, and did not see the fastest route at all (lost almost 20s). The route to the 7th was complex, but here I was able to pick the shortest. However, the passage through the house was unclear in the terrain with a stair that was confusing (should all have been marked to make it clear), but I found my way. Into the 8th control there was so much happening in the street that it was impossible to understand what was meant to be the purple square my control was supposed to be behind (purple areas are non-permanent constructions such as restaurants). I therefore lost some seconds into this control. After the arena passage I tried to keep the focus, and take control by control. I ran well many legs, but to the 12th I again picked the wrong route and lost about 10s. Out of control 14th my first mistake (excluding route choices) of the race happened: I managed to think that I stood in the parallel street and therefore thought running out to the right was the best option. But unfortunately, I was not in the parallel street, and my street had a fence blocking it, which I should have remembered from the leg before. I had to turn around and when I ran past control 14 again I had already lost 15s. This stressed me, and irritated me, and I increased the pace to push out the last energy before the approaching finish. But after just some houses I lost track on how fare I was and ran to the left too early. Realized fast but probably lost another 10s on rounding on building too much. I kept pushing hard, and just before the 15th control I manage to start reading to the 16th control, and went right too early. I realized fairly fast, but again I lost 10-15s on this mistake. So after three (!) mistakes on one leg and about 35s lost, I finally came to the 15th control. Came to the finish very unhappy with how I screwed up a decent run on the last long leg, I got even more disappointed to see how far behind I was even without this three-in-one mistake. I had thought during the race that everything was kind of good until the 14th control, and my first thought was that I was just not fast enough for a good position. But after I saw the gps-analyzes I realized that I had lost a lot of time on many of the long legs, and that my pace had not been so bad after all. Anyway, a 23rd place was far from what I aimed for, but I guess this is sprint, with a short way between a good race and a bad race. Even though I am not happy with my performance it was once again nice to experience the WOC sprint final, getting the map in my hands, and giving it my best.
Sprint finale. Photo: Mareks Galinovskis.
Sprint finale. Photo: Janis Ligats.
As a remark to the organizers, and the international orienteering federation I have to say that even though I was not very as badly influenced by supporters and tourist, and even cars as, many other runners were, and there was a lot runners who had troubles with the starting point and the last control being just next to each other. I think there has to be much more organizers keeping the street open for the runners, and that the city must be car free during the competition to ensure a fair competition. If this is not possible the city center of a capital city cannot be used for a World Championships. All of us runners prepare ourselves as well as we can, and put a lot of effort and money in being ready at the start line. Therefore, I think we deserve to get competitions that are professional organized, and are as fair as possible.
Coming home with a lot of positive feedback I still needed a week more or less off. To see that I have improved at middle distance this year, and giving my best ever sprint relay first leg, was nice, and is motivating for the rest of the season, but also for the next! Now I have had 2 weeks at home in Switzerland, and in one week the next World Cup round will be held in Norway. I am excited and look forward to compete at home ground. The World Cup races of next Saturday and Sunday will be shown live on NRK, so tune in if you are interested!