20 July 2006

JWOC, Takas 5 Day and Kaunas part 2

So into day 3 of the TAKAS 5 day and I am lying in 2nd place overall, around 2 mins down on the leader. Watch the JWOC middle qualifier which is generally the most tense and exciting individual day, and get both really motivated and dehydrated. No need to warm up too much in this heat. I am pretty confident going in to the race, and I have a near perfect race. Technically, I am as good as all year, with one small blip at number 7 when I misread a depression as a hill (costing me around 20secs). Physically I feel great and push hard all the way round. I pick out the difficult controls well and deal with them well (16 I am down on the best split but most people lose a hell of a lot more). Finish feeling really high and full of confidence for the rest of the week. 1st place with 1min 20 to second place. Results here.

As well as my good run, my main contender manages to put himself out of the running (mispunch or retiral?) leaving me with a massive 6 minute lead overall, with two middle races to go. Almost so good that something had to go wrong?

Day 4 was back on the same area as day 3 and the JWOC middle race. Another hot day in the sun cheering on the disappointing efforts of the GB junior team. Most of the entertainment came from the fantastic girls putting up the results (see picture ;) )

Again we were running later in the afternoon, with some similar legs to the JWOC courses, although a much longer course. For the first time in the week the heat started to get to me, i was struggling on some of the climbs, and the course was the most physical and technical of the week - much more like the traditional Baltic terrain I had been expecting. I was slow off the mark, going wide to the first control and taking a detour through some bushes. Partly due to looking ahead at the 2nd control - which I played safe. Possibly not the quickest, but the easiest and the option which gave me a chance to look ahead at the rest of the course. Despite being the most difficult course of the week, I was on top of the situation and only panicked once, when on the way to 13 I became disorientated in the light green. Apart from that and a small miss at 12 it was still pretty good, and despite not feeling fantastic, another victory, extending my lead to 8 minutes. Results here.

And so to the final day. JWOC relay day. A chasing start for the conclusion to the TAKAS 5 day. An 8 minute lead and a 10.5km course. Which is a bit misleading as it was the same course as the last leg of the JWOC relay and those boys were running well under 50 minutes for the 10.5km. Obviously I wanted to show the juniors how to do it as well as winning the race which is probably not the best frame of mind to enter the race with. Anyway, with high confidence I went out into the glorious, lightning fast forest, and I did one of the most enjoyable orienteering courses that I can ever remember doing. The forest floor was clear, the contour features were distinct, the ground was slightly springy and the course was well planned - technical but not too tricky.

With little vegetation and only small height difference, it was possible to run well under 5mins per km, and at that speed it is easy to make mistakes. I had a reasonably good run, with small misses at 14 and 24, and a slightly larger one at 16 (overcompensated for going off line). Apart from that it was orienteering that I love, running straight on a compass and picking off loads of details. I ran the 10.4 in 45.53, 2 seconds slower than the fastest junior. Another victory in my class though. Results here and overall results here.

It wasn't until the prize giving that I realised that there was a cash prize for the winner, so I accepted my 500 liters. It would have been rude not to plough that money straight back into the Lithuanian economy, so I rose to the challenge and bought everyone I knew (and some I didn't) drinks at the party all night (and still came away with some spending money for the next few days).

Then it was time for stage 2 of the trip, sightseeing in Kaunas with the Warwick Uni boys and girls. The driver on the way back was disappointingly reserved and not a single part fell off the bus and we arrived all in one piece (although Matt's head was slightly sore).

Highlights of Kaunas

Driving little electric cars around the park (see picture below), playing lots of games of Worms, playing volleyball / ultimate frisbee / football wherever there was an open space and often where there wasn't, smiley sundial (see picture below), litre glasses of beer (but not too many), cheap nice food, 35 degrees every day.

Lowlights of Kaunas

Lack of nightclubs open on Sunday and Monday nights, people getting beaten up in the street right in front of us and left lying there (what do you do when you don't know the phone number for the police?), 35 degrees every day.

Want my advice? Go to the Baltics - great weather, great food, great prices and pretty good orienteering too.

Almost forgot to mention, check out StalinWorld too.

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