Wednesday, August 08, 2018

WOC 2018 Shorts Day 3

On the numbering of the days

The title says Day 3 but everybody (elite and not so elite) had a rest day on the Monday which would have been Day 3 if it counted, but to save confusion it doesn't. So Day 3 is the third WOC competition day and everybody knows how things work until I get to Day 5 + 1 which will be the day after the last WOC race when there is still a spectator race and trip home to report on.

Anyway,on the day that doesn't get a number but was really Monday we did a bit more looking around Riga. This took in all of the standard sites of Riga, along with a visit to the newest tourist site: the Kris Jones memorial staircase on the route between 7 and 8 from Saturday's sprint final. Look out for the the blue plaque that should have been erected there by the time people get back to Riga for the 2019 World Masters.

The Road to Sigulda

Peter finishing to the sound of bagpipes
Day 3 (Tuesday, keep up) and it is time to move from the sprint areas in Riga to the forests of Sigulda 50km to the east. Helpfully the Latvian O-Week area was on the direct line between the two, in an open-air museum on the edge of Riga and was advertised as a “forest sprint”. This turned out to be another very nice area, with lots of historic Latvian buildings spread over some well-contoured sandy forest with patches of thicker green just to make finding controls tricky. Finishers were treated to traditional Latvian music (there is no escape) from a three piece “band” consisting of a drum and bagpipes. And then it was a quick drive to the WOC Middle through what seemed like endless pine forest with gentle contours and almost no ground cover. Unfortunately this turned out not be a sign of things to come.

Being there

Team Maprunner shouting at Ralph
Why bother going to WOC when you can sit at home and watch it all on the internet with GPS tracking and live TV? Good question, and once you have got past the "running the spectator races" answer all you have left is the atmosphere in the arenas and the chance to talk to the people involved. But the attraction of GPS tracking is great, so James spent a lot of the day in the media centre watching the tracking on his PC and occasionally looking out of the window to watch runners on the arena passage. This has the added advantage that you don't get soaking wet when the thunderstorm passes over.

One of my visits to the media centre coincided with Ralph's start. We sat and watched as Ralph took a good route and then wandered off and then recovered and then veered away again and finally made it to control one having lost over a minute. "Oh well" said his father who was sitting next to us. "Oh well" said his mother who had just appeared as well. Apparently Ralph was now slightly more angry and decided to run it off. And thus from 58th at control one he improved or maintained his position at all but one of the remaining controls, including two fastest splits, and ended up in 13th place, under two minutes behind the winner Eskil Kinneberg of Norway.

On a day when a lot of people made a lot of mistakes the other Brits had a mixed day. Megan Carter-Davis kept her head best, ending up in a creditable 20th place. Cat Taylor was 25th, Charlotte Watson was 53rd and Alasdair McLeod was 52nd. Tove Alexandersson of Sweden had a true day to forget, never quite getting to control 3, despite taking over 10 minutes to get from control 4 (which she thought was control 3) back to control 4. And the value for money award went to the wonderfully determined Juan Carlos Bedoya Obando of Colombia who stuck it out to finish in 138 minutes. Highlight of his day was probably the 62 seconds it took to get to control 5: his best split of the day was good enough for 67th place on that leg.

In amongst the action

A first look at the Middle maps revealed that control 1 for Men and Women was just two hundred metres from a small group of buildings, and indeed these offered a possible attack point that may well have saved several people a lot of time. One of these buildings is now our accommodation for the rest of the week.

Flag-raising: a lost art

I am an officially qualified bronze medal position WOC flag raiser, having somehow ended up with that role at WOC 2015 in Scotland. So it was a little sad to see that my expertise is no longer required. The WOC ceremonies so far this year have dispensed with flag rising, and instead rely on three people standing at the side and just waving flags on poles.

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