My main focus at this World Championship was the middle distance, even do the results of the last years has shown that my biggest chance was probably in the long distance.
This said, the 7th place in middle distance was terrible and I felt deep inside devastated. I know too well that every words I will say now will tag me right away with the sore loser label, but it is hard to talk about that race without raising the problem of map quality.
In my opinion, the map around the penultimate control was not up to the quality which is required at a WOC. I, of course, went there after my race to check the area and was not pleased with what I saw. Well, the fact is that it is not the first time it happens at our major championship, and we can´t even all agree on what is a good enough map. It is also worth mentioning that the map has always been the same for everyone and it is an important skill to manage to keep the risk as low as possible whatever the circumstances.
But the part of luck is already big in our sport (map not always showing the true nature of the terrain due to unsuitable symbols and scale for example) and I will never understand why people tend to make it even bigger on the argument of making a more challenging course.
The leg 17-18 of the middle distance is a perfect illustration of this in my opinion. It is simply impossible from the map (at least for me) to know which route will be the fastest beforehand.
Every decision in a middle distance are taken in a fraction of seconds. Example: When I came to the 17th, as always, I first checked the shortest route (A), and thought it was too risky as the mix of greens and tight hatches should be way too slow. Then I evaluated the longest route in more runnable parts (B), but seemed too long. And finally went for the third option (C), running on the edge of the greens, and with a closer distance to jump on the second option (B) in case I got stuck anyway. If, on the top of that, you put 79 starters on this type of vegetation (read: bring back qualification), it is more about gambling than orienteering.
At 17th, I felt my race was well in control, at the finish, I was devastated. With this said, we are again highlighting the inefficiency of the IOF advising/controlling. I just hope, one day, we could see a former and experienced elite orienteer helping the organizers to provide the best and fairest possible courses. But instead of talking about the map and course quality, when too much has already been said, I would like to talk about the hours following this race.
The joy was all around me (Annika winning, Lucas taking a fantastic 2nd place), and I had to wait to be alone to open the lid of the box of my darkest emotions. When I came back to our accommodation, the “rescue mission” was then starting. In my room, I sat and wrote down my thoughts on a piece of paper.
You are on your knees, but you are not dead, now it is all for Friday. It is time to show what you are made of. You will put all your frustration into your race! You will fight like you never fought before. You can end up with your head held high, so let´s go.
YOUR PREPARE FOR THE WAR!
Then, I took a sleeping pill, because I had not a single chance to sleep with all the frustration I had in mind. The next morning, I had a serious headache, but I kept reading, and reading again, the words I wrote the previous evening. It was at the same time calming me, and loading me with more anger.
The evening before the long distance race I topped my preparation with the famous Al Pacino´s speech in “Any given Sunday” and I was finally ready “to fight my way back, inch by inch”.
The race itself is history now and wasn´t probably my best in term of technical execution but, at least, I never surrendered and I “saved” my championship.