18 September 2010

Tyranny in the Estonian junior class

The series of Estonian Championships continued with the long distance and the youth relay. These were held in one of the most extraordinary terrains in Estonia, the same which was used earlier this year at Baltic Championships. I really like this forest and I was mentally and physically 100% ready for it. I handled the race pretty well, except for two longer legs - 8th and 12th. After crossing the marsh, I couldn't locate myself. The area was very distinct and I could imagine how it would look on the map, but I didn't see anything even similar to that. I decided just to carry on until the narrow ride, which was surprisingly difficult to notice in the forest. I got the control, but the uncertain running cost about a minute and quite a lot confidence. Pulled myself together and carried on fast, but safe, even too safe - a bad choice to the 12th. The narrow ride disappeared completely and the vegetation boundary wasn't clear at all. Should have gone a bit from the south, through the narrowest part in the green and would have been 1,5 minutes(!) faster. Everything went well until the first real mistake with a control - the 17th. The contour lines there are pretty vague and it's hard to use just bearing in this dense forest. But I didn't lose very much time comparing to the previous technical misses. I knew I was doing well and everyone would miss at least something on the course, but it was a very big surprise when the final results were out - I won with 10 minutes! Not bad, as some would say... Map, results.
The next day continued on the same ground, but probably to most difficult distance for me to get a gold medal on. Last year our team was somewhat lucky when we won. This year the exact same team was defending the title. Jüri did much better this year and came out third, only 3 minutes down to the lead, which wasn't much. The second leg runners mixed a lot of cards. Jonatan came out first and gave me a 2 minute lead. This was more than enough for a secure run and even increase the gap to 6 minutes... A joyous day! Now there was just one last medal before the end of the junior class - the ultra-long. Map, results.
Photo: Yes, I'm only using my arms
The next weekend was planned as just a training weekend at first, but then me and my brother decided to go run the Latvian Championships in middle distance and relay. I didn't change anything in the trainings though, I was still preparing for the ultra-long, which meant I was probably going to be rather tired and slow in Latvia, but that wasn't the goal anyway. It was a long drive, but the terrain was definitely worth it - the same spot was used for EOC 2008. It's one of candidates for "101 orienteering maps you should run on before you die". The first part of the elite course was the most fun part, pure enjoyment! If only the course was longer and went even more further to the north-east... With an average technical performance, I was rather just cruising between the controls and not exceeding human limits. The last part didn't go so well. Some misunderstanding on the way to the 16th cost a lot of time. I also took an alternate choice to the 18th, but the last marsh crossing ruined the chances. I don't know if it would have been a better choice if I started later and not second; I like to think that it would have. I must say that I was already afraid of the 20th control, these seemingly easy controls can still be very tricky. And guess... Yes, I missed more than a minute. No mistakes after that, but I lost time anyway. It's quite unusual for me to lose time in the last controls, but I just didn't have a good running feeling on that day (no surprise there). This meant a 4th place, 1 second behind Janis Kruminš and 10 seconds behind Kalvis Mihailovs. Oh, and yes, 3:31 behind Martinš Sirmais... Map, results.
The middle distance was a selection race between me and my brother for the OK Aluksne's first team and I made it. I was in the first leg, where I had no power whatsoever. I lost time in the same area as the previous day, before the 4th. I never got properly acquainted to that area. And no, I did not plan my route to the 5th like that, it was an occupational accident. This "brilliant" choice included almost swimming in waist-deep water and for those who were following me. These two big misses cost the contact to the leader. Eventually I started seeing the 2nd place runner Raivo Kivlenieks in the 9th control and I started closing in on him. But I was even more powerless than the previous day. I was about 5-30 meters behind him for the rest of the course, but never caught him. I even took some different choices, but they weren't that much better or not better at all. My place - 3rd, with some 2 minutes behind the leader (J. Kruminš). Our 2nd leg - Atis Dandens - did well and finished 2nd, just behind the leader. Edgars Bertuks was in control of the situation and came out as a clear winner. Now I'm a Latvian champion as well! Map, results.

Photo: Right before a false start
The last o-event for now was the ultra-long championship. I was confident and took the lead right away. The preparations had gone well and I was feeling great, so I knew I could start off with a high pace and continue til the end. I wanted to see if Kenny or Raido would meet my speed and come along, but they didn't. So I just gave the whole distance what I had, well, alone. It was a very interesting course, but a boring race. I finished first, with a very big margin - 14 minutes ahead of Kenny. Map, results.

Photo: Some are finishing, some are just going on their last loop...
This was the last of this years golden package - 5 of them, just missing the night medal, when my lamp went out... No more youth and junior championships for me, next year it will be the seniors! Looking forward to it!

Now I'm partly resting and waiting for the last important start: Baltic Junior Cup in Klaipeda, Lithuania.