A few years ago, a bronze medal (or even a top 6) at the World Champs was a dream that taunted me throughout every training session. I could have given everything and anything to achieve such a result, and I know there are athletes out there that feel like this now. Who would sell their soul to get a podium result.
My 3rd place today was something of an emotional rollercoaster. I knew to succeed in the race I had to be calm, and minimise my nerves. The race was going to be so technically challenging, that fast biking would be all but a dream, and thus the results would be tight. Minimising mistakes was to be the key.
When I finished, I knew there was nothing wrong with my race. No big mistakes that I’d made in Sweden or Denmark, it was pretty clean. But I also knew I had been unstable early on in the course. And such a technical course made any time loss hard to re-gain through fast biking. With 29 controls in 5km, it was intense. I couldn’t really remember any place I had lost time, I was always in control, but a bit ‘rough around the edges’ at times. The first controls in the woods just felt … off.
Although I had a big lead of 35 seconds in the finish, I didn’t quite think it would be enough, as I had a nagging doubt I had been unstable somewhere. I had no time to think about that however.
There was some awesome GBR cheering going on around the course from the Masters. At the last control, a familiar voice and figure. That sounds like my Dad, I thought. No, must be someone else. At the line I turned to look and see who it was. No-one was there. Was I hallucinating? Did I imagine my Dad was standing there cheering. I went to download, and then saw my Mum!
The Cheeky Gits had come to Poland yesterday to watch me race!!!! I was so shocked. I didn’t know what to do. All the emotion I’d been holding back since the morning, and the joy of having had a good race with no major mistakes, resulted in tears. And! Cheeky Git Number 3 (aka World Champion Boyfriend) had known about the whole thing for three weeks…
I was quickly pulled off to the the Anti Doping tent, but then heard HJ finishing in 1st place. Some minutes later, announced as joint World Champion with Anton Foliforov!!! By this time I had dropped to third place behind Marika and Tatiana. It’s difficult to be happy for HJ and his first individual WOC medal, and be disappointed in myself at the same. Happy, Sad. Happy, Sad. As I said, it’s an emotional rollercoaster of a day.
It was disappointing. My race was good. But I still felt there was some time loss that I hadn’t noticed because I didn’t make a mistake. Looking at the map later, I can see I was unsteady when I entered the forest, and the effect knocked on for some controls until I got ahead of myself. The split times of the top 3 varies by some seconds throughout, but I lost 2x 15 seconds on controls 5 and 7. The error at five was going straight, and then getting confused with a shortcut that was bigger than the path I was on. The error at 7 was having no plan and taking the long way around a triangle. There were a couple of other smaller non-orienteering issues that lost me some time, unfortunately. Too many small things.
It was my best performance in a while, and the technical nature of the course evened out the physical differences in the athletes. On the longer legs I was able to bike faster, which was nice. A break from the brain and some harder work for the legs. It’s hard to be disappointed with my 6th top 3 result this year, but I wanted more from myself.
Tomorrow is a new day… More speed, more pain, and more aggression.
Maps will be uploaded to DOMA when we get a chance.