I flew into Prague on Monday and took the train to Olomouc. Transport here seems to run really smoothly and I got all the way to the accommodation by just following my nose. Most of the team were already settled in and had been training already. The accommodation is in a student residence block with all the facilities we need and I think it will be really fun once all the other teams are here too.
I ran my first training on Tuesday which was relevant to the WUOC middle distance with very little contour detail and a patchwork of varying vegetation. Most of the green areas were as shown and the dark green had to be taken seriously. The map felt pretty old as a few of the denser areas had opened and most of the stumps had rotted away. Looking at the old version of the race area I think we will have more open forest on race day. Hopefully more like this!
I struggled to understand the map in some places, which increased the importance of holding an accurate direction with the compass. I found myself practising “If you are going to make a mistake, make it quickly” a few times when taking a bearing into almost featureless forest. The principle behind this is that if there is no more information available from the map then the compass is your only tool and you are equally likely to make a mistake if running faster or slower. The worst case is if you proceed hesitantly and still have to relocate. I used this on 7 and 12 as the vegetation changes prior to the control were difficult to identify.
Aggression is a very important attribute to perform well in this terrain as big time can be lost messing around in the undergrowth. However I was reminded early on that trying to push through a branch of blackberry only results in the thorns digging deeper – but come race day I don’t think that many shits will be given about thorns or stinging nettle.
Wednesday’s training was aimed at the WUOC long distance and the course posed some good route choice problems. Test your thinking against my GPS route – some of the routes I took were obviously not the best but for our learning it was important to know exactly how fast or slow certain options are.
We only did half of course as doing big miles in steep terrain is not in my definition of a taper. Jourdan and I ran together testing different routes to get a feel for when it is time to run on the tracks and when it is time to run straight. I suspect the WUOC long will be one massive route choice exercise.