The culmination of the World Champs this year was the long distance. 17.5km with 750 metres of climbing, and some big route choices. This was the race I was really aiming for this year, and after my great qualification race I was relatively confident that at least my fitness was good enough for a top result. It also meant that I was starting 3rd from last, with only Thierry and Baptiste after me. Realistically, I was always expecting to see one or both of them, and I managed to stay in front for more than 50 minutes. To be honest, when Thierry catches you and you have the same butterflies, it would be more than a little stupid to ignore him - my speed definitely increased after then. I had no problem to run at the same speed as him though, and passing through the spectator control with 2.5km to go, I understood that I had a chance for top 10. I could not stay with Thierry after that though, and he was out of sight on the steep rocky slope to number 30. I really gave everything I had, and I don't really know how I found the last couple of controls! The tough climbs were a killer, but it seems like others had even more problems than I did, and I actually took some places on the last loop, despite feeling like I was going backwards.... As I sprinted into the finish, I heard that I was running to 9th place!
Before the championships, my goal had been top 20. After the qualification, I had small dreams for a top 10, but it was still unbelievable to actually do it. I had a good race technically, losing some time to the 5th (lost focus while taking a gel), and then a couple of little wobbles towards the end (24, 26 and 31).
This was a really nice end to WOC week, after a mediocre sprint race, and a decent run in the relay. I am really happy for Thierry that he took his first medal in the long - he really deserved it after both the problems in the relay last year, and also his selfless act in the relay this year. I will be cheering for France in the relay in Trondheim (after GB of course!).
My route is shown here - although it is not exactly right in some places!
Will scan some maps in soon with my routes
Photo Richard Baxter