Although this feels slightly delayed (My last few days in Europe were too hectic and heading straight back to NZ to work hasn’t given me the time) I think there is a lot of value in summarising some key points about this years’ trip to Europe. Again, 6 weeks was a good amount of time to knock off enough races to realise that my shape isn’t where is needs to be. The trip culminated with 3 races at WOC, the pinnacle of orienteering competition.
For me the disappointment of underperforming had been and gone before my main goal, the WOC long distance, came around. I had been struggling with sickness and injury at a crucial time in my training block and my running ability had seriously regressed after a single week of hard training in Norway. I hadn’t experienced this degree of overtraining in many years because I control my training progression so tightly now, but with the inconsistency from alternating weeks of hard and light training, my body lost the plot big time.
Still, there was much to learn from the racing I did complete on this trip. 10 races in total, (5 at O-Ringen, 2 at Nightwawk and 3 at WOC). My favourites were Nighthawk, racing the night time mass start, and the WOC Relay in front of a crowd of 8000 with an overwhelming presence of media and TV cameras.
Standing on that startline at Nighthawk, in the still of the night, shoulder to shoulder in absolute silence before the calm is broken apart by hundreds of spiked shoes stampeding on gravel was the most intense experience I have known in race. Obviously I haven’t done Jukola or 10Mila yet, but for now Nighthawk remains the biggest mass start I have done. Maps below!
WOC 2016 was the most high profile event I have competed in. The day of the relay had 8000 spectators in the event arena and 200 000 TV viewers in Sweden alone. There were TV cameras hidden all around the course and a very long spectator run-though emphasised the scale of this event as far more than just a competition for the athletes. After racing internationally for many years I am now very relaxed with the crowd and the TV cameras don’t concern me anymore. In the relay I barely noticed them and I suspect that in future years I may not notice them at all. Maps below!
So now I refocus, taking all the positives and negatives I can from my time in Europe and building these into my plan for the next 6 months before Oceania Champs in Auckland next year. I hope to be back in Europe next year and I see the next 2 WOCs in Estonia and Latvia as good opportunities to achieve tops placings.