2013 was a fairly big year for me, one that will be hard to beat for sure.
For the first time in 18 years the Orienteering World Cup was back in NZ and I was part of the team. The hard training paid off and I got what is probably one of my best international results and 32nd place in the chasing start middle distance. I had all but thrown away any thoughts of achieving such a result after the first two races but I managed to put myself in a good position and use my strengths to the best of my ability and I achieved something I could be proud of. Two days later I kicked myself to the sideline by pulling a hamstring at Sprint the Bay.
In February I was support crew for Scott Cole in the Coast to Coast and which caused the seed that was planted all those years ago to sprout. I came to the conclusion that watching sucked big time, and all that was holding me back was my kayaking ability or lack there of… and there actually wasn’t anything stopping me from learning…
Having being injured throughout much of December with a pulled calf muscle I was again limited to the sidelines for a month leading up to Avalanche Peak. In 2012 I basically ran the race of a lifetime and expected to waltz in for the double in 2013… however this was not the case and I without the dark horse tag I was a marked man and there was a few out for blood, including one Chris Forne. I had it tough, with Rhys from the UK zipping ahead and getting to the top before me. Unfortunately for him he left the barn door open and the horse bolted. Chris running me down in the river bed was my biggest fear, but it was cramp that I was battling against. Luckily for me the race was just short enough to still have the speed over Chris and I managed to slip across the line just before him. Although it wasn’t my best race ever, it was a really satisfyingly hard fort win.
National champs was the next focus and on home soil this year and focus quickly shifted to that. The speedwork was taking its toll a little and I pulled up lame the weekend beforehand and wasn’t sure if I was going to make it through the weekend without doing more damage. I went in with my eyes open and focused solely on the navigation which really worked I felt. There was a podium (orienteering podium… first 6) finish each day but the Long distance which I was really aiming for didnt workout to be the Birthday present I was after….
Following on from the Nationals was the Mountain Running Nationals near Wellington, something I was keen to give a crack just to see how I stacked up next to the rest of these guys. I hadn’t given much thought to it and just turned up ready to race and did just that. I knew I wouldn’t embarrass myself, but didn’t quite expect to finish in a position where I was handed a selection form for the World Champs…. After some thought I felt I may as well give it a crack, filled out and sent the form away.
Towards the end of April I filled the time with more racing, first at Loop the Lake followed by the Otago Orienteering Champs. While down South I also got some good news on the orienteering front and the foundation laid for my overseas trip, after being selected to race at the World Champs and the World Games. A week later I checked my emails after work one day and found I was now entering the world of dual NZ representation and selected to race at the World Mountain Running champs.
May was a big month of training and racing, two 24 hour races within the month plus work was tipped upside down with some redundancies so there was a bit of stress negotiating time off for my trip, sorting out where I was headed etc….
June came around pretty quick and by the shortest day I was winging it to Finland for the World Orienteering champs. The terrain in Finland was amazing and the orienteering tough. I had my ups and downs and felt that in at least 2 of my 4 races I did as well in terms of navigating and keeping in touch with the map but pulling it altogether and doing it smoothly was just not happening. I still believe it was due to lack of race practice and it has been the same story every year… By the time World Games came around I had some practice under my belt and ran as well as I could have in the sprint and relay and for the first 30mins of the middle distance. The World games was an experience that I will never forget and given the chance to go back I would jump at it in a heat beat.
Going to the World Mountain running champs in Poland was the next race on the agenda. It again was an experience like none other and not so different from any of the World Orienteering Champs I have been to. I pushed my body to its limits and got close to my goal of a mid pack placing, but still ended the trip on a high and felt proud of what I had achieved.
Before it was time to head home there was a small stop over in San Francisco required for some yacht racing that was exciting to start with and depressingly frustrating towards the end. A side trip to Yosemite was a real highlight for me, getting out into one of the more spectacular places in the world.
Before winter was completely over I made it back to NZ. The focus quickly shifted to Adventure Racing and Multisport. A little bit of orienteering was thrown in there too but after 6 months of full on Orienteering the buzz just wasn’t there in the same way. In fact it still hasn’t come back, although I am told it does come back. Anyway I had an awesome time at the Mystery Lakes adventure race and topped it off by coming 3rd as well! I gave the big day a the office a crack and came 8th after a really bad start which set me up nicely for my next goal of the Coast to Coast closely followed by Godzone. So over Christmas and New Year, its all been training and more training! One month to go now and I’m starting to get a bit nervous, Ill be fine though, everything always seems to work out alright in the end, so we will see how I get on!