Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The Classic!

Today was the day for the classic. The traditional distance in orienteering which is being slowly whittled away from the orienteering program due to the dominance of sprint and middle races. Hanny was our girl in the final and most team members had a restful morning waiting for the action to start. Well, everyone except Tom 'the boss' Quayle, who managed to get three punctures on his 45 minute morning ride and had to be rescued just in time to take Hanny to quarantine. 
Resting up in the morning

What better way to hear about the Long Final than from the finalist herself.....Hanny.

Hanny finishing in front of the big crowd
'9th July... a long but very exciting day for spectators and runners alike.  Today was the long distance final held ( ).  After Julian dropped Tom & I off to the quarantine, Tom & I boarded the bus for our long drive to the pre-start.  Whilst we chatted about life and the universe, we managed to circumnavigate the entire map, only to end up back near the arena.  A 60 min scenic tour of more Finnish forest, farmlands and marshes.
I felt surprisingly relaxed and tried to just take in the atmosphere of my first WOC back in 4 years.  I am amazed by how much the sport has developed and running into the arena for the start highlighted this.  There were people everywhere!  
Discussing the race...
My plan was just calm, cautious and relaxed, leaving some energy in the tank for the end of the 14km course.  I did just that, my only mistake was a large 5 min error as I tried to find a bridge across the impassable river just before the arena.  I was expecting a large, wooden bridge and sadly missed the floating pontoon hidden by the grass and long vegetation along the river's edge.  This shook my confidence for a while before I regained control.  This was my only error for the entire course and whilst the Russian girls came flying past me, I felt solid and completed the race according to plan.
With the middle and relay coming up, there is still lots more to look forward to.   However, I am already thinking forwards to next year.  What do I have to do to crack the top 6 again? I already know that in order to be competitive in the long distance race, high end running speed and maintaining this over a long period of time will be critical.  I feel excited at the thought of returning home and strategising!

As I have the honour of writing this post, I want to take this opportunity to acknowledge the amazing support of our coaches - Tom & Wendy.  They are two legends and the rocks of our team.  I have turned to them for support & confidence when I have felt in need of a boost.  The thing is, we all have and they never fail to give all their energy to our team.  I must also acknowledge the rest of the team - Simon, Bryan, Lachie, Aislinn, Jas, Fel, Sus & Ness, you are all amazing athletes, team mates and friends.  It is an honour to share WOC 2013 with you all.  And finally, big thanks to Elin our physio for keeping my legs turning, the Aussie supporters here cheering in the arenas, and to all our wonderful families, friends and followers back in Australia.  
Aussie, Aussie, Aussie... Oi, Oi, Oi!'

The crowd was huge and atmosphere electric...
With Hanny placing 22nd it was a solid result for her return to WOC competition. The rest of the afternoon was spent with the team in the hustle and bustle of the Finnish crowd with the other Aussie supporters, watching Simone Niggli and Thierry Geuorgiou reassert their dominance of international orienteering. Thierry was clearly annoyed with the 'ease' of it though. 

When Jani Lakanen came in to take silver it was going off in the arena as you can see below. 

The girls playing silly
In the evening all the athletes and spectators gather outside Vuokatti Sports Institute for the medal ceremonies which gives the event a great village-like atmosphere all day and night. Tonight this made the girls very excited....or maybe it was just that they found a new swing to play on.... was obviously endorsed by 'The Boss' Tom as he joined in!

In good news for the team, Bryan 'Breezer' Keely has been feeling good after his sprint qualification race with his seven stitches in his knee, testing it out with a run today. He is pumped for the middle and relay later in the week. 
The seven stitches

Breezer getting 'well looked after' by the caring Swedish lady Elin - gotcha! 

Stay tuned tomorrow for our rest day blog and a special look at Australia's past WOC performances here in Finland with an enthralling 'Then and Now' article on our smoking mens relay team from WOC Finland 2001...where are they now?

1 comment:

  1. Man if I was there I would have been devistated that it took so long to find the swing!!

    Good work on the run Hanny.

    And good luck with the rest of the week people.