Sunday, 30 April 2017
For the first time since the very early days of our trip, we awoke to the sound of rain on the roof. We’ve been incredibly lucky with the good weather generally, so suffering through a day of rain wasn’t going to be the end of the earth. Clare, Paul and I had early starts, so we were out at the event first. The arena setup looked really good again, set in the pine forest with great vantage points of the finish chute and a fantastic atmosphere.
The terrain was incredibly cool - fast open running around soft (but not sandy) dunes, then into horrible thick stuff with low visibility. It was the thicker stuff that turned out to be my undoing, as I was having trouble with my vision anyway - with water all over the outside of my glasses and the fog on the inside of my glasses completely obscurring my view of both the map and the terrain - it was particularly bad in the thicker areas and I made mistakes that forced me to relocate off nearby tracks. It was shortly after that point that I was caught up by some runners on my course who had started a bit behind me (thus were ranked higher), so I decided that in light of my vision problems, my best bet was to try and stick with them - so I spent the next 5 or 6 controls running along behind them, keeping a vague idea of where we were. This worked well until they disappeared from view for a moment in another section of thicker vegetation and suddenly they were gone. Luckily I was still with a Swiss runner (Jeanette) I’d caught up to at about the 2nd control who had also lost the pack, so we were running together as we did the last few controls - my vision was so bad by the end I almost missed a compulsory taped road crossing (I couldn’t see it on the map OR in the terrain!) but by then we had silently established a rapport, so, breaking silent-mode, she said ‘hey! over here!’ as she ducked through it, which saved me from further lost time! The combination of early and late mistakes but with some fast running in the middle section meant that I finished a respectable 9th. Clare didn’t have the luxury of a pack to run with and also made a few of her own mistakes, so she finished in 8th, 2 seconds ahead of me.