Today was the WUOC long distance race. I was the last USA female to start but I wasn't really too concerned about this race anyway as the game plan was to just run it steady and clean.
The Long distance race in most international competitions is known to be long and a tough physical race, and this one was no different! The women had 8.3km long course with a grueling 460m of climb, but let me tell you it felt in places it was a lot more than that!
A bit about the area: So Nectavské Údolí is a massive valley. The map is dived in half by the major valley and has a road and railway line running through it (and much to our disappointment we didn't get to ride in an old steam train to the event like the newsletter claimed :( ) Then off the main valley are multiple deep and curved valleys leading to very steep hillsides and distinct hilltops. The forest is mostly "high, clean and very runnable" (if contouring along a steep hillside or climbing up a steep hill one defines as runnable sure!) There are also patches of dense woods and a patch network which is quite dense. Mostly major paths running along the hill sides.
|From the warm up area - Photo by James|
As soon as I turned over the map my heart sank though. Long leg to control 2 no chance of getting into the map before having to deal with my least favorite part of a long. Thankfully there was an elephant track pretty much to control 1 so had some time to plan 2. Getting to 1 though was where I first found out about how lose the ground was on these slopes. Dirt just slipped out from under your feet. There was no way I was going to be happy about taking these down hills at speed. Made it to 1 and then down to the track to head towards 2. 1-2 was where I'm not sure I picked the best route but for the whole course I'm happy in that I picked a route and executed them all pretty much totally cleanly. So 2 decided you were going to have to climb at least once, possibly twice. I picked a fairly straight/left route for the first 3/4 of the leg and then once I hit the major trail at the hight of the control I just ran around the track and dropped into the control from the top. This is the leg I would like to see what others did though because one girl came into the control from the north with me and another from the west. Looking back at it there is once very around option to the right and up the stream but I didn't see it then. anyway it was clean so just kept going.
I had three girls vaguely around me for almost up to control 5. Took the lower main trail to three and in through the white green gap to the control. Then there was an elephant track for a good portion of leg 4, but also picked the pace up a little bit to keep the girls in sight so that I had an idea of where the track was going, and then saw the last girl in the group punch 4 which was nice. They all slowed down up the hill to 5 so ended up catching back up with them to pick our way up to clearing in-between the two main tracks. They pulled away again on the main track around the hill but I just let them go knowing I needed a steady race and that this wasn't the event I was racing full out. So didn't have the advantage of seeing them punch control 5 so got into the control circle and was very confused. I was standing in the green between the clearing and where I thought the trail was and just didn't see the control. While scratching my head looked far enough behind me to actually see a dad and his daughter at the water stop and THEN saw the control. Dop! Took the energy drink and headed off up the hill. But again felt like I hit the trail odd coming out of 5 so was feeling on the edge of confusion. Slowed it down but still when I hit the multi patch junction I was just that slightly turned around or maybe nervous that I almost headed off up the wrong track. But corrected before I even left the junction so not a big deal and dropped into control 6 fine. Then leg 7 was quite nice as the first part again had an elephant track for me, well once I saw it. Crossed the stream fine and started heading up the hill and just saw the green and yellow and thought "damn I don't really want to go through that!" and out popped an elephant track that lead me all the way around the top of the and through the yellow reentrant just like I was wanting to do :) Went to the second distinct tree and contoured into the control hitting it just fine!
Controls 8 and 9 felt a bit odd but mostly were compass legs anyway so didn't really matter. I could see 8 from quite a ways up the hill but it didn't seem to be on a feature and guys were going into punch it, but it was on my line so I was going to at least check the code, and oh yes when I got there is was mine. Then took it fairly slow to control 9 because i wasn't really seeing the trails I was crossing over but really should have just gone for it as the reentrant behind the control was distinct.
Now Control 10 was the first leg I know I picked the wrong route to! I went left and over the hill on the trails that way and in through a bit of green to the field. Should have gone right and there was no climb at all. Think I must have had my map folded too small or just didn't see the loop that far away from the line. Stupid mistake and lost time and leg energy there. But came through the spectator controls at around an hour so perfect time for a gel! Or so I thought haha.
Trying to take a gel while climbing up these crumbling slopes was not my best idea, but it took longer to down the gel than I thought. So it would have been a sight to see me one handed struggle up the hill while trying to one handedly squeeze the gel in my mouth. Thankfully Colm had gotten me the lovely ISO gels that taste great and don't need water so it was better than it could have been!
Leg 12 was just mean! I'm not really sure what the best route here was, So i picked a simple one i thought and went for it. Up to the second big trail on the hill. Along to the corner with the wet ditch junction. Slowly up the wet ditch, which at the top of it was where I saw a Swiss and finish girl trudging up behind me. Then up the trail to the left past the fenced area and around on the main trail around the hill to the top of 12 and in. Again almost falling/sliding on my butt down to the control as the ground was so loose.
Leg 13 was fine just contoured around to the ride and along to the hill top, getting another glass of ISO drink there. At this point I saw Tori Owen coming up the hill and so had her just behind me the rest of the course, but was trying hard not to pick up my pace at all and ignore her. I went back out to the main track and around to the kinda paved junction of trails. It was more just a field though. Then the lower trail all the way to go right along the spur and drop into the control. Where I was surprised to see a camera man standing not that far away from the control making finding the pit even easier which was nice. Elephant track out of the control to the main trail and all the way around the hill to 15.
Going down to the last control was basically an elephant track as well but I managed to still trip up on something and did a wonderful faceplant! Was really hoping the guy behind me wouldn't trample on me and glad no one could see us yet! Then had a fun wee sprint finish with tori to the line.