27 August 2010

Four starts in 48 hours

When finally getting back to Estonia, it was only a few hours before the first start on home soil. It was time for Estonian championships again, this time sprint and night.
The sprint course can be divided into two halves - the first part in the Tallinn Botanic Garden and second part in bushes next to it. The first part fit into the sprint criteria really well - the main characterizing words were fast running and quick map reading. I was doing quite well, even the speed wasn't anything to complain about. The only thing that could have gone better is the routechoice to the 9th control - it was faster from the left. When I passed the arena, I heard that I was doing well. When I entered the deciduous near-city "forest", I had no idea how the landforms drawn on the map would look like in the terrain. 17th was easy and so was 18th, or at least it should have been. II didn't understand much and the mistake was easy to come. I guess I should have taken the situation a bit more rationally and slow down more, but it's too late being smart now. Quite a few other runners missed this one too. With the next ones I was lucky, though I did not make much of the map and terrain. Then my luck ran out again. I was moving in the wrong direction and as I'm no sprint runner, it was hard to sense the scale and understand how far I had gone. I came out at a small wet clearing (not on the map) and understood instantly where I was, as I had been there. It was a very bumpy second half, even the last controls. I thought all my chances of winning were gone, but guess again! By some miracle I won! Not many runners had a clean race that day...

Photo: Which control is this?

The night champs was something I was waiting for. The map and the forest promised to be interesting and suitable for a difficult night-forest-fight event. The warm-up felt especially good, it's been a long time since I felt this good at an important start. I mean, the feet were basically running by themselves and they were as light as feathers. Now I was expecting a really good race. On the way to the first control, I even held myself back, just to get the rhythm going and be more aggressive later. Things were going smoothly, I was very confident and so I ran as straight as I could and avoid long routes around. At least this was my plan until... Until I was about to reach the big track before the second control. All of a sudden, it was dark as night. I thought that I had accidentally hit the switch of my lamp and so turned it on again. I could continue to the track and then the light went out again. At that point it was clear that the game was over. I tried to switch it on again for a few times just to be sure, bit it was hopeless. I couldn't run the whole course by switching the light on for a few seconds all the time. I thought that the battery wasn't charged correctly or charged at all, since it was sent to me from my home, where I hadn't been for two months. But I found out that it had been charged as I had asked it to be done. Turns out there is some technical failure either with the charger or the battery. I hope it's not the lamp itself. Too bad that a decent night competition in Estonia went to waste for me.
Map, results

Already on the next day (after 300 km and a few hours of sleep) I was participating at Malienas Kauss (Maliena Cup) with my brother and a few friends. Great two days in a beautiful pine forest - fast forest. No surprise that I was very tired on the first day's middle distance and so I made small mistakes with almost every control. I came out 2nd, a minute behind my brother. Map, results.
As the second day was a chasing start long distance, the hunt for the Maliena Cup began. The last time the Cup was in our family, was in 2003 when my father won. What's also interesting, is that the Cup has been won by different persons for the past nine years. Who wouldn't want their name to be engraved on it? I caught Timo in the 6th control and stayed with him until the 9th. I took the lead and tried to make a gap, which of course was very difficult. It seemed that I had a good lead before entering the forest again before the 14th, so that we'd lose eye contact. Timo took a faster way to 14th though and got closer again. I pushed as hard as I could and the last time I saw him was before the 17th. The Cup was mine! Map, results, total results.

Photo: Maliena Cup claimer and runner-up

Also worth mentioning that Timo lost the best finish split competition we had with our friends and has to buy me ice cream now.

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