From very good performances and results in the World Cup sprints in Imatra to bad performance in Jukola. Now it's time for last 2½ weeks of prep before WOC.
I got sick in Norway and decided not to run the World Cup races there, to avoid a longer break. But travelling back to Denmark on sunday I started coughing, but otherwise I felt better and decided to travel with the sprint-team to Imatra, Finland. The coughing has continued until now, but even though it wasn't an optimal situation with my physical shape, I was still able to perform well at the sprint and sprint-relay.
The sprint qualification went well, I was in good control of my race all way and was running in a steady pace without pushing max in the end. I was very surprised it was good enough for 2.place, because the physical feeling wasn't perfect. And I even took 3 bad routechoices (control 2, 15 and 16), loosing in total around 10 seconds, but the artificial fences made it difficult to see the shortest route. All in all very good result and promising before the final and WOC.
The sprint-final was a race with a lot of different feelings. I was not feeling very good during the warm-up in my head and stomach, but right before the start I felt ready for the challenges and was expecting a difficult sprint, with a lot of extra fences. But I was still surprised how much they had chanced the town of Imatra with black lines on the map in the most non-expecting places and forbidden areas (roads).
First control I did well, but wasn't sure if I took the best route. On the way to second control I ran into a forbidden area on a road by accident, because it was not marked out there with tape as it was supposed to from the map and the bulletin. I realized it fast and ran back the same way, but the risk of a disqualification was lying in the back of my head the rest of the course. I lost 13 seconds to best split here. I did well after that, but on the long leg I had to stop for several seconds just to see a possible routechoice. I started looking right, but saw the two fences across the road and eliminated that. Then I looked left and saw a possible way even though it was around a lot of fences. I decided just to go for it, because it was anyway impossible to see what was fastest just looking at the map (it still is...). It was stressful not to be in control and I missed a little the optimal left routechoice 2 times, and lost again 13 seconds to best split. After that I did a good race, but didn't feel like I was running fast at all. Again I was surprised to hear that I was in 4th position in the finish, and 5th in the end, not more than 24 seconds behind the winner. Hopefully there won't be too many extra thick black lines on the map in Venice and Trento in 2½ week...
The sprint-relay was a big succes for the Danish Team. All the runners did their job well, following the decided tactic, and it was a pleasure to see Maja crusing the Swedish Girls on the last leg. My own race went well, even though I took 2 bad routechoices in the first part of the course. I was staying behind Lysell on the last half of the course, controlling and checking if he did what I wanted to. But he was running well, and there was no idea in trying anything, because we had the same forkings. A good experience before WOC and I'm really looking forward to race in Trento.
Jukola was as always a big event for me and not at least for my finnish club, Vaajakosken Terä. Out team was very strong and with Pasi Ikonen back in business on last leg, anything would be possible.
The team did well during the night, and even though no one on the first 5 legs had perfect races, we were still very close to the lead, when I went out on 6th leg in 3rd spot, 2½ minutes behind.
But my race was far from good enough. I struggled in the beginning finding the good routes, and often went with wrong "jukola-track". After the first 3 control the course went to an area where no one had been before. It was a tough and rocky part with a lot of cut sticks on the ground, and I was still making small mistakes, and had no sight of other runners. Half way we came back to areas where earlier legs had been running, but I didn't find the routechoices with the new tracks and lost even a minute on a routechoice, and I still can't see from the map how it was so much slower. I was caught by Kalevan Rasti and Fabian Hertner after that, still with a good chance to send out Pasi with Guergiou, but then made a crucial mistake to the next control going into wrong forking. And then he was gone. I got the back of Timo Sild, who had passed me in the same mistake, and ran with him the rest of the course. Until 3rd last control, where I again didn't find the jukola-track through the dark green and even got passed by Halden. In finish I was in 6th spot, 4 minutes behind the leaders, but lost almost 6 minutes to best split (Sild).
It was terrible to run to the finish knowing that I had most likely had fucked up our chance of winning, and it wasn't fun meeting the other guys afterwards. Because even though they were understanding and supported me, winning Jukola means everything to a every Finnish orienteer, and this year we really had a chance. But I'm sure it won't be the last chance for Terä to finally take the step on the top of the podium in Jukola. Next year, guys!
Back home in Denmark it's time for the last preparation before WOC. It means a lot of intensive training, but also focus on resting and finding the motivation to kick some ass in Italy in 2-3 weeks!