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Monday, 6 June 2011

Aus WOC Trials

A couple of weekends ago I headed down to Tassie for the Australian WOC trials. A bit late writing up you might say, well since then I’ve relocated myself across the world and am now in Rome up for a couple of months! So I’d say that’s a fair enough excuse! :) If you’re lucky I’ll put up some of my Roman running adventures here too.

(Warning you in advance, this is a long post, so just scroll down for maps if you want!)

Anyway, as I’m uncertain how much orienteering I’ll get here in Rome, I made the late decision to head down to Tassie and get some quality competition in the form of the Aus WOC trials. $400 of flights and a spacious, song filled drive up from Hobart later, I found myself lining up for the sprint race as the University of Tasmania in Launceston. Now in the past I’ve found I struggle to race well the same day as I travel, so expectations weren’t too high for this race, although I did enjoy the lack of pressure compared to the WOC trialees!

I won’t bore you with too many details, however shoe choice was critical for this race (interesting aye!). No but really, the ground was ultra slippery following the morning’s dew. So out went my initial choice of racing flats and in came the inov8s. Discussions post race made me very happy I made this choice, at no point in my race did I find myself unexpectedly on the ground (which given my proneness to faceplants is saying something)!

Anywho, map is below. Technical sprint racing seems to be a forte of mine, so this course was right up my alley and I had an incredibly clean run. The only real time losses came exiting 11, where I misread the white edging around the number 11 as a gap in the wall. A couple of others made the same mistake and was pretty annoyed with the number placement. Cost me 15s. And I took a sub-optimal route choice to 16. Infact, it was only the 3rd time I looked at the course post race that I even saw the path in the middle! In the end I won by 51s in a time of about 15minutes. Joint 2nd were Mace and Shannon, so a good start to the weekend for the Cockies!

A quick fuel up at the supermarket and another short drive later and we were back at it again, this time for the middle distance, held at Benbullen. Now I’m not going to lie, I see absolutely no relevance of this map to France, I think the only reason it was used was because it lies on the road between Launceston and St Helens, were the long the next day was. Anyway, you deal with what you’re served, and a fair few people commented that the map should suit me, being a kiwi. Well whatever was said prerace, I have run on very few maps this muddy and boggy in NZ!

For some reason the start triangle was in the middle of a stream and by the time I’d run through it, my map was covered in mud and illegible. It didn’t get too much better after that either! Now my track record for middle distances isn’t exactly impressive. I’ve made a mess of the last 4 NZ champs, including my spectacular mistake a month ago in HB (not sure I’ll put that up here!). I’ve made 3 A finals at JWOC, only to make a 20min mistake in one, mp in another, and throw away the race on the 1st control on the other. So my confidence isn’t exactly high when I line up for a middle, I just don’t seem to be able to hold my concentration together for 25-30mins. (15min for a sprint is fine though!)

Unfortunately this race continued my trend, although it wasn’t quite on Easter’s scale. Number one was very shaky, especially after getting stuck in a bog, only to see Jimbo happily jogging past on a track 10m away. However everyone, even Vanessa had trouble here. Things went smoothly through to 10 then, where I couldn’t fit the map to the ground, losing maybe 30s. Again things went fast through to 17 where I got a bit stuck in the marsh and veered left, not too fussed with that though. But the last control, oh the last control. Seriously?! Spotting a knoll across the marsh I shot off, up the re-entrant, and…nothing. What?! Oh no. It has to be here. Nope. Eventually I twig that the finish is too far away, I must be short. A classic parallel error which cost me a clear 2nd place and dropped me back to 3rd behind Vanessa and Kathryn. There’s no way I was going to beat Vanessa though, she seems to have middle distances sussed. Maybe I should ask for tips? :) (sorry for the blood all over the map, managed to slice my hand open somewhere, just thought it was mud for a while, then realised it was red not brown…)

And finally, after a well needed nights rest, we had the long distance trial, held on everyone’s favourite; Lively’s Bog. Personally I’d only run here once before, Aus champs 2005. And all I remember was getting pretty horribly lost. More than once. So on reading the planners notes in the programme (along the lines of ‘I have made these courses as hard as the possibly could be, I got lost putting controls out’), I decided it would be optimal to take things carefully and stay in touch with the map at all times. Not a bad plan and will definitely be needed at WOC.

I won’t bore you with details, but I just had the most average run. No big mistakes apart from 8, where I lost a few minutes after becoming disoriented in the ultra green strip in the bog (there’s an unmapped rock in there, just incase anyone wants to know). A couple of dodgy route choices, and a lot of hesitating. But I was simply running too slow and had little motivation to ramp it up. Unfortunately I was first starter and had no one close behind who was going to push me. However that’s no excuse, someone always has to start first, so a bit disappointed with myself on this one, but atleast I didn’t get horribly lost like last time I guess! Finished up a good 9 mins behind the leaders, and what’s more the place getters in the long won compasses. I’d have rested up in the sprint and middle and gone hard on the long if I’d known that! ;)