Tuesday, August 12, 2014

WUOC 2014: Sprint Relay

Today was the WUOC Sprint Relay in the town of Kroměříž (53km from Olomouc). This is the first time that the Sprint Relay has been run at WUOC and it had a different format than at this years World Champs. We ran the four legs of the relay in the order of female - male - female - male. But all of the legs were exactly the same length and control numbers. Bit interesting but it was a lot of fun! The USA team was Tori, Jacob, Me, and Charles.

The adventure started with a bus ride to the town and straight into the Quarantine of the school. This was fine although a bit tight for space to sit down as instead of say the gym to all pile into we were in three or four different classrooms. But we settled in and started getting changed to race. There was a slight debate on what kind of shoes to wear for this race though...

Background of the area:
the map covered the area of part of the town whose history is almost 9-hundred year old, and a garden. The garden is part of the Archbishop's Chateau. Kroměříž was apparently owned by bishops and later by the Archbishops of Olomouc from the first part of the 12th century. They used the Chateau and gardens mostly as their summer residence to show their aristocratic rank. The current Chateau is apparently one that was rebuilt in the 17th century after the Swedish Army destroyed the first one. The garden is a masterpiece showing the European garden art from the 17th century. It is not just flowers though but also consists of some wooded sections, a few ponds, statues, and even a mini zoo! It has been named one of the most attractive places in the Czech Republic.

Tower of Chateau in the middle from the square
So yes the debate on shoes was because of all the park area and did was want more traction, which was made even more of a concern with the fact that is was trying very hard to rain again an hr before start. I ended up just saying meh with cobbles and grass I'm going trail shoes. I was more concerned about how small my running shorts were :/ Apparently I'm not an XS any more haha. Once attire was sorted it was time to warm up, this is where I found the hallway swarming with angry coaches. The Organizers originally weren't planning for us to be able to warm up other than the time in the prestart. We weren't having that! Eventually it was decided that Athletes could go between the Pre-start area and Quarantine no both. Whew! So off to warm up! I was so glad to find out that my shin wasn't bugging me at all while warming up and felt even better once some dynamic stretching had happened.

Gun went off at 3:30pm and Tori was off! We could just about see the spectator control and final control from the prestart. I warmed up a little bit more but kept an eye out for her. Tori managed to have a great run coming in with a group and handed off to Jacob. Jacob was one of the few people that decided to race in long socks and when I finished I was thinking he wasn't so crazy after all, many stinging nettles were out there! :/ Sadly though he also had a bit of trouble at the start of the course so was a bit later than we were expecting. I was a bit worried while in the pen to start that Ireland had come through and not Jacob :/ but thankfully Jacob wasn't too far behind and I went out just behind two girls.

Right aim for this race was to be steady and clean. Nothing big just keep us in the race. And that was mostly what I was able to do and picked up I think 2 places :)
My leg 3 course

From looking at the start and embargo we knew pretty much what to expect coming out of the start and even was able to look at the church on street view that we would see first. That was nice and I had the short gaffel for my number 1 easing my way into the race. I had a small bobble going into control 2. Came into the garden and was actually a bit confused by the out of bound streaming. I was prepared for a hedge flower patch in front of me and to go right of it, was just maybe a bit overwhelmed to see that much tape. And oddly the only place I remember seeing tape. Anyway hit control 2 just a bit backwards into it. Took a deep breath and on to control three. It was the first longer leg and a right-left routechoice. I went left and think it was the right pick, even with having to bridges to sort (I had "run" that leg almost exactly on google street view). This is where however we found out that the fields weren't as nice as at least I was expecting. They were more like cut tall grass fields but the cuttings left in rows. So slower to 3 than I thought, oh well. Then to 4 thinking back a straight route might have been better but saw all the elephant tracks going off right towards the bridge over the small stream so took that and the path almost to 4. 4-5-6 was just a follow the elephant tracks from the 2 previous legs. Now ah control 7. This is where I most definitely took the wrong route, although executed it cleanly. I should have gone right around the lake and along the path to the first bridge and across to the control. But instead I followed the Hungarian girl that caught me off to the left and across the field to the further bridge and right in. She pulled away from me but I did't actually see her punch a closer control but think she must have as it was an ok route for one of the other gaffles. Not mine sadly ops! 7-8-9 was mostly clean. Overran 9 to the end of the white patch to the corner of green as I saw a control there and was like "oh green veg change with white must be mine!" nope it wasn't turn around to find mine well tucked into the green. This is where though Ánie from Ireland had been just ahead of me into 8 so was trying to reel her in. So picked up the pace a little bit to 10 to see if I still could. Up the steps to the hedge next to the chateau. Then spectator control making sure I had picked my exit route before turning the corner for everyone to see me. I just saw Ánie at the control she was close. Punch and turn around to go back down the little alley.

So I almost tripped myself up going down the alley as the rest of the map had been so flat I wasn't expecting the tiny steps down it to be there! Anyway had a clean finish loop through the town and came into the arena just after Ánie to hand over to Charles.

Charles had a decent race keeping us in 22nd place with a nice sprint finish! So 22nd team out of 25 and 12:50 down on the winners. I was happy also to be 17th on my leg apparently. Although not really sure how much you can compare the splits with the gaffeling.

On to the long distance tomorrow!

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