22 June 2010

First foreign experiences of the season

May ended with anoher successful event for me - Baltic Championships, where I defended both of my titles from last year. To my mind this was one of the best terrains in Estonia. The variety was incredible, which made this event an orienteering-, not a running competition. Though the feeling on the long distance was not the best I could hope for, it was enough to be among the fastest on that day. I could handle the map well and no additional stops were necessary, except for the 3rd control. In fact, the map was drawn by two persons and the border of the two areas went on the narrow ride between 2nd and 3rd control. The map style difference was very well noticeable, hence the mistake. Anyway, besides that mistake, I can be satisfied with the race. Results, map.
Photo: Winners finishing

On the next day's relay, there was a totally different person running though - amateur mistakes and no running feeling. Raido opened quite well for us, but a mistake in the end gave Belarus and Latvia a two minute lead. With a rough beginning, I finally caught the leader by 8th control. His mistake gave me the chance to give Kenny a safe 4 minute gap in the start. Kenny even doubled the lead and another gold was in the pocket. Results, map.
Photo: Timo found a coin!

The trainings continued with one easy week and one camp week. It was finally time to meet the terrains awaiting at JWOC in Denmark. Even though I hadn't made any presumptions about the forests, I was rather surprised by the vegetation. It was so damn thick that I almost bounced back when I tried to enter the forest. I was unsatisfied with the quality of the maps - it seemed like they were made in a hurry or something. This was even worsened by ordinary printed maps, which were really hard to read even when sitting behind a table. But we got the taste of an offset map in one training and let me tell you, it was a whole different thing! The map finally made some sense. Considering JWOC itself, it will be really tough as it seems like the terrains aren't really favouring me. 
Some maps of the camp: long and middle trainings from Vester Torup, Bulbjerg, Blokhus; sprint from Mølleparken; relay from Rold Skov.

This years Jukola promised to be a lot of fun, and it was. After resting from the last trainings, It felt hard to get the speed up when I was exploiting the Jukola model terrain. But on the warmup, the old familiar good-shape feeling arrived. As I was getting ready for my 2nd leg, I saw that my teammate, Jaagup, was keeping his head cool in the forest and was not far from the leaders. He made just the race I was expecting from him and came out 62nd. I immediately made friends with the map and everything was crystal clear. A good feeling in the legs allowed to make fast movements too. By the first radio, I had decreased the loss to the leader from 5:09 to 3:03, not that I knew that at the time. To the 6th control, I took it carefully and didn't want to lose contact. But at one point, I couldn't connect the map and the terrain. I knew exactly where I had gone, but then just nothing made sense anymore. I kept moving and not after long, I determined my location. As I continued, it turned out, I hadn't been in the location that I had thought. After countless tries to relocate myself, I took a bearing to the west and wanted to end up on either the big road, one of the lakes or the big clearing. Not after long, I arrived at a harvester's track and found out where I was. Even then I didn't get to the control without a mistake and lost about a minute or two more. The total mistake cost about 7:30! I haven't made a mistake that big for a very long time. Trying to forget about the lost time and continue well, worked for some time, but after the long leg, I had forgotten the basic orienteering skills and hesitated with every choice I took. I arrived at 34th place, 9:26 after the leader, which meant that after my big damn mistake I was moving at about the same pace as the leaders. Could I have caught the leader without my huge mistake? I guess we'll never know. I can't really complain about my physical shape though. My brother had a real long night - his lamp was not obeying him and worked for a few seconds after turning it on. Switching it on and on and on and on and.... all the time didn't let him orienteer and he had to follow the packs he saw and use the light of others. Considering that, it was an impressive run, since he only gave away 11 places! By the last leg, we had fallen to the 102nd place, which is 2 places worse than last year. We were clearly capable of making a better result. This was a good pit-stop on the way to JWOC. Team results, map.