|Peter Hodkinson finishing in 13th place|
The Spectator Race was based at the Tartu Song Festival Grounds, with the start and finish in an enormous concrete amphitheatre. The area was a mixture of ornamental parks, lakes, buildings, scattered woodland, a BMX track, a frisbee golf course and what felt like a skating rink to run on, but was in fact just the walkways around the main stadium. My 2.8km course had 26 controls which meant things happened quite fast. This was enough to cause a few map reading problems, especially given the amount of mapped detail that was less than obvious on the ground. But after 18 minutes and 56 seconds I had skated my way to the end of the run-in and added Estonia to the list of countries that I have orienteered in.
It was then a 20 minute walk back into the centre of town to arrive just in time for the start of the Women's sprint race. Ed Nicholas made a brief appearance, said hello and then dashed off to do important stuff. A lap of the Town Square finally located the Media Centre, and we managed to grab a start list and maps before heading out to try to get photos of all the British runners. This went OK for Alice and Jo (did these the easy way, as they left the start) but we then decided to head out into the area to get some action photos. We found a suitable control, and I worked out the best camera angle. Runner 36 came past: Megan is 38 so will be here in about two minutes. Three minutes passed and runner 39 arrived. It turns out that runners 37 and the camera-shy 38 had taken a different route choice. We quickly headed down the hill to get her on the second loop. As we set up in front of the TV control by the main University building we saw runner 36 followed by 37. And then my camera battery decided to die just as Megan came into view. I just managed to get back to the Media Centre, find my spare battery and rush out onto the balcony overlooking the run-in as she appeared round the corner to punch the last control. The photo made it to the BOF website, even if it is a bit of an awkward angle, but very few people will know the tension involved in getting it.
So then it was the men's turn. I thought I had learnt my lesson, so I got Peter as he started. Just need a photo of Chris now. Let's go for a shot of him running up the hill. Oh look, there's a good camera angle from behind the fountain and flags. Indeed there is, but if you get there 10 seconds after the runner has gone through then the resulting photo lacks a little something. I decided I couldn't muck around any longer, so stationed myself by the last control. This turned out to be a good spot, and I got some great photos of Peter finishing. Oh, and one of Chris as well.
Then it was another quick lap around the hill to see a few of the later runners on the last loop, and finally back to the Town Square to get a picture of a Finnish flag with Daniel Hubmann's legs coming out the bottom of it as he sprinted down the run-in to victory. This press thing is not turning out to be as easy as I'd hoped. But things improved when we finally tracked down some British team members, and I spent fifteen minutes interviewing Peter, Chris and Megan. They had all clearly had a fantastic time and were more than happy to tell people about it. Spirits are high in the GB camp, and tomorrow could be a good day. Mind you, it's almost tomorrow already, given how long it has taken to write various articles for various websites and sort through nearly 300 photos, some of which even show GB runners. And I even managed to set up Routegadget for the HH Saturday series that was taking place in Highfield Park at the same time that we were running in the Spectator Race.
That list in full for those desperate to know, in order of appearance: England, Wales, Scotland, Switzerland, Austria, Ireland, South Africa, Swaziland, Sweden, Belgium, Norway, Denmark, New Zealand, Netherlands, France, Northern Ireland, Canada, USA, Czechoslovakia, Germany, Russia, Finland, China, Hong Kong, Australia, Spain, Italy, Ukraine, Czech Republic, Iceland, Estonia
I also get half a point for Portugal, where I did the IOF Event Advisor Course, but never managed to run an event.