A rather better crowd turned up than for the opening ceremony, and it felt like something was really happening. The GB sprint relay team managed to make it onto the stage to receive their certificates for 6th place, and the resulting tweet is our most popular yet, even if the picture does show up as four pairs of legs on most phones. I was slightly surprised by the choice of prizes for a World Championships when Per announced that the buckets would be presented by some local dignitary, but these disappointingly turned out to be bouquets. So that was the rest day done: now for some real exertion.
Tuesday and it’s the Long race day, which is always a long race day if you see what I mean. Up at 6.45, left the apartment slightly too late at 7.10 and ended up running to catch the bus. The WOC bus left 10 minutes late today. The journey to the Long race area was filled with an Estonian orienteer providing running commentary of things we passed (Tartu airport, storks, NATO convoy, more storks, ex-Soviet ballistic missile site, nice runnable area of pine forest nothing like we would be running in today) and 75 minutes later we arrived in a field with a large stork’s nest in it, or at least a 30 metre high observation tower designed to look like a stork’s nest.
Of course the first thing to do was climb the tower to get a view of the area. Forests and lakes as far as you can see. We then made for the press tent just in time for the press briefing and map hand-out. The map is huge, and the courses have several very long legs with significant route choice. They also have an arena run-through followed by two orange standard controls before the finish. Not what I would have planned.
But before the OC runners start coming it is our turn to see what the forest is like. The spectator race is in an area that adjoins the WOC map. The most noticeable thing walking to the start is the paths that they have had to cut through the open areas (!) to get the children’s courses through. I set off and take brave straight route to control 1. Thick and bushy with low visibility, muddy, lots of marshes which look more like lakes, lots of fallen trees, open areas full of thick vegetation, felled areas filled with raspberry bushes: pretty much just as expected. Control 1 goes OK, control 2 is a disaster caused by forgetting what a compass is, control 3 includes a small detour to the wrong corner of an open area, but after that things improve. 75 minutes for 6.5 km isn’t great but it could be worse. James struggles a bit, and is just over 2 hours for 9.3 km.
Then it’s a solid four hours of photography, trying desperately to get shots of all the GB athletes. This just about goes OK, even if nearly every photo shows them looking exhausted, since they’ve just run up a 25m hill to get to the arena for the run-through, or up the same 25m hill to get to the finish. British results are as they so often are: not bad but difficult to get excited about. Ralph loses time on the long leg to control 2 but then has a good run from there to end up 18th. Holly seems unhappy at the finish but ends up 16th. Jess is much happier with her run to be 17th. Tove Alexandersson and Olav Lundanes retain their titles. The long day ends with a long bus journey home, and we get back 12 hours after leaving. All that remains is to sort and post the pictures, write the BOF report and even have something to eat. And so to bed, but not for long because we’re going back to the same place tomorrow to run on the WOC map itself.