After not making it through the qualification races to the finals I was back to spectating. It sucks spectating, I have spent too many times at WOC spectating and not taking part! I still got to race in the spectator events which was a suitable substitute. I figured that since I was all the way over in Europe I may as well get in as much orienteering in cool terrain before heading back to NZ. After 4 days straight of hard racing a 15km long with upwards of 1000m of climb was pretty tough work. I never really tried too hard during this race, but was pleasantly surprised to be sitting in first place on arrival to the finish. By the time all the later starters came through to the finish I maintained 7th place. I was pretty happy with that, knowing that I could have gone faster, and feeling quite comfortable in the Elite grade… which I should be comfortable doing anyway!
The day of the Long final became my rest day and I spent the day watching the final….exciting by would have preferred to be out there racing! The following day the final spectator race took place on the long final map. I tried to get excited about it, but by this stage the tank was a bit empty. I took it easy to begin with then after some sloppiness at the first two controls I nutted down and got into a good space. The roll continued for a while but then a couple of mistakes in vague areas caused me to lose focus and I stumbled around the last few controls to the end. With the relay to be held the next day, barring any illness or injury this was the end of my orienteering in Europe for 2012…
I watched eagerly as the relay teams left the accommodation for the relay, really wanting to be a part of it. The relay as always is was exciting in both men’s and women’s races. Unfortunately the New Zealander’s fell off the back of the packs early in both races, but still ran hard to the finish and then as quickly as it began it was all over for another year.
I headed back to NZ two days later, back to winter, back to the real world. but not before taking in some of the sights around Lausanne and Geneva.
There was plenty of time for reflection on the plane ride home. I was pretty disappointed with both my qualification races I went out hard, leaving nothing in reserve and I missed, made mistakes and ended up feeling disappointed. But to quote Bjørn Dæhlie (XC skier who I saw lose the 94 Olympic XC relay on the plane home) that’s sport, sometimes you have to lose. However in all the doom and gloom there is some positives. It was a cool trip and I enjoyed every moment of it, from racing hard to mucking about with the rest of the NZlers. Looking at my middle distance race I definitely felt I justified my place there, and could see the qualification mark sitting there for the taking. In both start boxes I was calm and ready to race which was a change from previous years. Next time around I’m sure it will be all the more easier. I flew into Switzerland not 100% confident I was excited enough about what I was doing there but I jumped on the plane and left Switzerland determined to improve, determined to get better.