22 April 2009

Swedish Eliteseries kicks off

So last week Elitserien, the premier elite series in Sweden, kicked off in Skåne. First up was a middle distance with a chasing start based on a qualification race the day before. I really like the concept, but I don't feel this race worked very well in the circumstances. There were 260 guys entered, running a straight qualification for 40 places, which meant that while qualifying should be no problem for the top guys, it was obvious that the time differences were always going to be really small. I was disappointed with my qualification race, making lots of small mistakes, and I ended up 26th, only 2.37 behind, but 40 guys finished in 3.20! That meant the chase was really manic, and around me people were started nearly every second. Unfortunately the chase developed very much into a running race. Maybe at the front runners were trying different routes to win, but around me, everybody was just running in a line on the same route choice as the man ahead, and just trying to run past people. I decided early that while this might be the best way to get a result, that any result would really be meaningless in the context of my season. Therefore as early as the first control I tried to do my own thing. I took different route choices to the pack on the 1st (bad, lost time), 5th (bad, lost time), 12th (very good, took quite a lot of places) and 19th (very bad, the 'dry white strip' turned out to be knee deep marsh, so I lost a lot of time, and maybe 10-12 places). Finishing the race I felt very frustrated, my tactics were not conducive to a good result, and while I ran a very good race technically, I did not get the result I wanted.

Qualification map
Final map
Sprint race
Later in the week was the second race of Elitserien, and after the middle distance, I was keen to get a good performance and result under my belt before Tiomila. This race was a sprint race in Helsingborg, and a quick look at the start list showed that this was more than just a normal Elitserien race - many top runners from around Europe were in town for Tiomila, and using this as a warm up. I was really pumped up for this race, more so than any other race this year I would say, and I really put a lot of effort in.
I started well, taking a good, but safe route to the first, and I took the 2nd well also. I made a poor decision not to run through the field to the 3rd, and lost a few seconds there, but the 4th and 5th were perfect. To the 6th control I never even saw the route out by the sea, and at the end I made a poor decision to run down through a really rough area rather than run a little further and through the white. I also lost around 7-8 seconds here. But most importantly I caught sight of my minute man, Mats Haldin. He was still a long way in front, but I had certainly gained a lot of time on him. I ran through the spectator control and the speaker said I was around 15-20 seconds behind Wingstedt, and I really tried to push the pace on the long flat section after that. I took a good route to the 9th, and I could see Mats a little more than a control ahead in the forest area - close enough for me to really drive, but not enough to be helpful finding the controls. The extra motivation obviously worked as I won the splits to the 10th, 11th and 12th controls. I wasn't sure about the route choice to the 14th, but I could see Mats about 200m ahead on the road, so I used that information to confirm my route choice decision. He was much to far ahead to catch, but I ran strongly through the last few controls - I knew I had run really well and gave everything to the line, and crossed in 3rd place only 12 seconds behind Wingstedt! My last loop had been really strong, taking 10 places, and after I finished only Kramov came in in a faster time, to give me a 4th place, and my best ever result in Elitserien.
I was really pleased to have only lost 18 seconds to the World Champion, and most of that on the 2 small route choice errors in the beginning. That was the feeling I wanted to get before Tiomila, a really good indicator that my training has been going as well as I thought.

1 comment:

Nixon said...

Mate, that is some belting running! Well on target to a WOC Sprint medal...