A strange day - another green Estonian forest, loads of people making plenty of mistakes, most of the British guys through and most of the girls out.
Before the race, we had a fair idea it was going to be tricky, green and slow at times, but we had no idea that it would be almost impossible to be clean and to run quickly.
Started well, spiked the first two. Number 3 got really confused - the marsh was really dry and got nervous so went out to path, hit control cleanly from there (lost 1 min 45 secs ish). Hit 4 fine. 5 was a tricky route choice - which path the take? Go right and nice route out to the path but more difficult to hit control, or left - a bit further but nice line in. I chose the nice line in and got a really good split. 6 was ok, but found another gaffles control in a little re-entrant just west of my control. Slight hesitation but relocated quickly (lost 30secs). 7 was fine. 8 was scary looking - no easy way in or attack point or features to relocate - and so it proved. Easy to the edge of the field, then plunging into the unknown. Headed slightly too far left, relocated on the big reentrant and lost roughly 2 mins - and I was nowhere near the worst. Some people lost 10 - 20 minutes on that or a similar leg alone. By this stage Carsten Jorgenson had caught me 4 mins and was running a slightly different line to number 9. Punch 9 about the same time and lead him and Novikov (who had caught me up 6 mins) into 10. We run together to 11 but I am in the lead, I make a small parallel error into 12 and lose 20 secs by diving off the spur the wrong way. With Carsten and Novikov disappearing into the distance I put my foot down for number 13 and proceed to banana the control proper style. Slightly off on my direction and end up hitting the path. Not a disaster and lose about 15 seconds, but they are away. 14 I put my head down, and follow my compass north ignoring all the contour detail. The plan is to leg it to the field and relocate there. As I come out into the field I see C and N again in the distance. Spike the control with a nice line in, and as I leave 14 (I havent really finalised a route choice for 15) I see them not too far ahead running towards the lake. That swings it for me and I leg it to catch up with them. Have picked up Rob Baker by this point too and we catch C and N and a Finn on a different gaffle. Control is easy. 16 is slightly messy with paths all over the place and people running everywhere. Am slightly wobbly but no real time loss. Run hard into the finish in a line of people. 4 of the last 5 legs I have top 5 splits for my gaffle.
Have to admit that after I was caught 6 mins I thought my chances of qualifying were slim, but I ran a good race after that and when I finished I was 3rd or 4th on my heat. I ended up in 11th. Not a great race, lost maybe 5 minutes which in retrospect was just about ok. Was running at good pace and orienteering well for most of it - better than in the races so far this week maybe. I certainly wasn't rushing so much and my mistakes were genuine misunderstandings of the map or running slightly off my line rather than rushing things.