The European Championships (EOC) in Ticino in Switzerland is history, and since then time has flown by. In the slopes of Monte S. Giorgio I achieved my best individual forest result with an 8th place in the Middle Distance, and I ran good through the whole week with 4th place in the relay and a 15th place in long (as a reserve, and short up to top 10). Additionally, I ran well in both qualification races with 1st place in the Sprint heat and a 3rd place in the Middle heat. Except for my performance in the Sprint Finale which was fare behind what I aimed for (33rd place), I am happy with the overall performance!
So let's start with the beginning: the EOC week started with Sprint Qualification in Bellinzona, and we had prepared well. I was unsure where I stood physically, and wanted to do a good qualifcation to set my sprint routine and did not slow down to save energy. The start was on top of the castle as expected, and I was careful to get the right stairs down to the city. I found a good rhythm and took the necessary time for map reading, and ran a good sprint race. Towards the end I made one mistake were I did not see that my control was behind a wall, and I had to run around it loosing maybe 10s. The rest was good and I was 1st in the finnish. In the end I won my heat, and since my heat was the last heat, I got the last start position in the final. I was suprised with my performance, it was better than expected, and at the same time I knew that it was just a qualification which does not really mean anything. Anyway, it was the first time I win a qualification in a championship and therefore a new experience.
In the Sprint Final it was almost 10 degrees warmer, and during warm-up we all tried to not overheat. I was nervous, but it felt ok untill just before the start. Somehow my legs felt heavy and empty, and it made me unsure. I tried to focus on that everyone feel the heat and the morning qualification, but when I finally got the map I struggled to fine the start point, and got a stressed start into the race. The first control was quite easy, so I got into the map, but small errors and insecurity towards the next controls made me unsure again, and I was a little bit stressed in my decision making. This led to some small errors several places, and at the long leg to control 5, I tried to avoid some height, but my routechoice was too difficult and too long, and I lost a lot of time, as several others. I kept on fighting, but I was not fully focused because I was tired and I kept doing smaller mistakes, and picked a lot of wrong routechoices, or missing some short cuts. Some controls before the arena passage I was busy reading the next leg, and ran the wrong street without realizing it loosing a total of 40s. After that I knew for sure my race was ruined, but I foughted until the finnish line, actually running my best splits for the rest of the race. Looking back on the race, my speed was ok eventhough I felt tired, but I am disappointed that I was not able to focus on the task, and that I ran my worst ever technical performance in a Championship Sprint Final.
The rest day was used to think through what really happend in the sprint final, and to run throught the model event for the middle distance. With some hours distance to the sprint final, I was able to move on, and learn from my mistakes, and I was looking forward to new chances in the forest. I think the Sprint Finale even helped me to understand what to focus on and how to run the rest of the week. In the Middle Distance Qualification I started out carefully, and got my first controls safely. In the steep slopes without almost any details which followed I knew how to run, and used the few details possible, or just made the control longer by making sure I hit a bit above so I could just run straight downwards to find it, or pure compass running. I avoided big mistakes, except of landing a bit too fare down the slope to the 3rd last control, and ended 3rd in my heat. A good performance, and I was satisfied with my race.
In the Middle Distance Finale I started again quite late due to my good qualifier, but this time I knew what I wanted to do, and I managed to focus on that. The 1st control went well, but to the 2nd I wanted to go a bit left in the beginning to avoid some reentrances, but I ended up running straight, and it got a lot of short sharp up and downhills before I could start the climb to the control. Into the control I additionally hesitated because I did not see the control as expected, and I had to re-check my surrounding, which was correct, and a few meter further I found it (I lost about 1:30min to this control, at least 45s was due to bad route and hesitation). I tried to be careful to the 3rd, but got confused by the big waterfilled depression halfways, but I was careful with the compass, and lost only around 20s on hesitation. The 4th went well, and the camera followed me. Out of the 4th I saw Tove Alexandersson catching up with me (started 2min behind), and she past me into control 5. She was fast out of the control, but I took my time to make my own decision. I catched up with her again crossing the stream, and I saw her infront of me approaching the 6th. To the 7th I went the safe route around, and she ran away, and to the 8th, I was not careful enough with my compass after the stream, and came to fare left on the path, loosing some seconds. The 9th went well, and to the 10th I had to stop several times to be sure where to leave the path, and I decided to go in earlier. At the arena passage I was suprised that I was still in the fight for a top 10, because I knew that I was already about 3 minutes behind Tove, but this lifted away my insecurity, and helped me out on the last loop. I did a good last loop, and into the 2nd last control I was careful not to miss it, and when I found it Tove came flying in from the left. I did not follow her, because she went more right than I wanted, and I was careful with my direction down the slope (maybe too carefull). I pushed what I had to last meters towards the last control and the finish. In the end my race was good enough for the 8th position (2:28min behind Marika Teini who won), which is my best result ever in the forest in international compititions (worldcup and championships). Happy and satisfied that I kept it together technically, even if I did not run mistake free I avoided big mistakes!
Photo: International Orienteering Federation.
After the Middle Distance I had two days of rest, celebrating my 30th birthday and watching my team mates running into bronze medals at the Sprint Relay! Due to my good Middle Distance I got selected to run in Team 1 at the Forest Relay, and after these two days I was ready. Sigrid (Aleksandersen) ran a perfect 1st leg, sending me out in the 3rd position just a few seconds behind Switzerland 1 and Russia 1. I could almost catch up wit Elena Roos for Switzerland 1 at the 1st control, but towards the 2nd I felt she ran a bit too much to the left. When we came up the slope I saw the ruin, and understood that it was me that was too fare to the right, I corrected, but not enough, and lost some 30-45s to this control. Therefore I was alone into control 3 and 4, but out of control 5 I saw some teams again. I did not manage to fine the path in the slope, but just kept on running using the counters untill the bigger path before the control, and used the crossing to approach the control. Here I was first in a bigger group some seconds behind both the swiss teams. I saw the swiss girls running out of each control I approach, but they kept the distance. Out of control 13, I was not sure if the road around was too long towards the arena, or if the extra climb on the path right was too much, but I felt I should take the shorter one, and went right. The teams behind me took the path, and I was alone, and after the hill I was not able to follow the path which was not so clear in the forest, and after some hesitation I decided to just run straight until the roads. At the arena I was 4th, and had lost 30-40s on my route and mistake. Out on the last loop I saw that control 16 looked tricky and I wanted to be safe using the distinct three on top of the hill before approaching it. I did, but felt the yellow area was too close, and could not see the expected green wall below the control. I barely missed the control, and found myself stuck inside the green. I decided to fight out of it to get to the edge where my control was supposed to me. Irritated I found my control where I almost was before, and I got catched by some new teams because I almost lost 1min. I ran well the rest of the loop, and could send out Andrine (Benjaminsen) in 5th position with 2x Switzerland, Finland and Russia ahead. Andrine did a good last leg, and we were in the fight for the medals until the finish line, and in the end we were good 4th (5th in total with two swiss teams before us)! We were quite satisfied with our team performance, and it was exciting being part of the medal fight the whole way!
Photo: Sven Alexanderson.
After the relay my EOC week was supposed to be over, but due to sickness I got the chance to run the Long Distance. My legs were not fresh anymore, and I took a shorter warm-up than usual to save my energy for the race, but I looked forward to a hopefully nice and tough race. I started out calm and focused, and just used my time to orienteer and make routechoices, and found a good running pace. On the long leg towards control 10, I suddenly started to read to control 13, and did not realize before I was too fare down the slope. Here I loose quite some time (1.5min). On the tricky short controls I take my time and run well, but on the long leg to 16, I am too fast to go straight, not seeing how much climb it really has. I realize it, but it is too late to change my plan, and I at least run my route well, but still lose at least 1 minute. Control 18 is tricky and hidden and I dont see it when passing close by, and find myself close to the stream. Run back up from where I came from and find it (about 1min lost). Towards control 20 I get confused in a big road crossing and think for some seconds that I have run passed my control, but I have not. The road was drawn as a path, and I realize and continue to my control (20s lost). Passing the arena I am tired, but I keep it together technically, and run into the finnish in a good position, just 3.5 min behind current leader Maija Sianoja who ended 6th in the end. I got a good 15th place, with only about 1:30min up to the top 10. Satisfied with another solid performance!
The week in Ticino was my best Championships in years (with only WOC 2012 topping it), and it was nice to see that my shape finally is better again, and that I can fight for the top 10 positions in all distances! This week made me motivated to do a good training job towards the World Championships, and thereby hopefully get the chance to run in Latvia in August!