|James escaping from the Estonian forest|
This was still a bit tight, so we managed to get James's start moved 30 minutes earlier. The Estonians are sticking to the standard European method of running age classes as blocks if they share a course, so all the M20s were at the end of the start window today. They also insisted on a three minute start interval, despite two minutes being good enough for WOC.
Out in the forest it was just as rough and tough as expected. Control 1 turned up OK, but control 2 was a warning of things to come, requiring a small loop around a vague hillside before finding myself in the river that told me I had dropped too far. Control 3 was going fine until the marsh I was following turned out not to be the marsh I thought I was following. At this point the beavers came to the rescue, and I relocated on a beaver dam holding back a huge area of uncrossable marsh full of dead birch trees. The expected long leg turned up and I took the brave route between two uncrossable marshes. This turned out OK, but mainly because of the elephant track from WOC runners the day before and earlier starters in the spectator race. I ran this section with a Czech M21, and his use of the word "swamp" to describe what we were trying to get through certainly showed an excellent grasp of English. There was then a long mainly downhill section through white forest, where I managed to speed up to 8 minutes/km, before a final hack through light green to the control on a hill. I got within 50 metres before deciding I was too low and having a quick look over the spur above me. That was 19.38 for a 1.8km leg.
After that it was a stumble down to the river, a slog through a marsh, a painful climb back to the top of the hill and 5 minutes wasted by forgetting to find an attack point before trying to find a depression amongst scattered depressions in a light green area. Eventually the finish turned up, and 7.1km had taken 94 minutes. James managed to keep going, and was almost sprinting along the edge of the marsh at the end as he tried to break 2 hours. He failed by 23 seconds.
The bus back was packed and set off at 3.00 exactly, leaving at least one Australian somewhere in the depths of the Estonian jungle. It turned out later that he had met his target of breaking three hours, and found some alternative way of getting back to Tartu. Just to complete the day of rest there was then time for a quick shower and a chance to fill the washing machine with mud as we tried to remove the marsh from our O kit, before heading off to get photos at the prize giving, and updating the website in time for the next day's Middle race.