The only and I really mean THE ONLY reason Robert and I wanted to go to the Czech Republic was because we thought we could win the Vet Mens title. So to go, do it right and get 2nd was a very satisfying result.
Strengths/Weaknesses – All teams have pro’s and cons. It’s well noted that we’re better runners than navigators. So a forest based course is potentially intimidating, but so is a flat fast European style course. We felt that 130km would be our limit. I don’t say that just to tie in with the story below, it’s what we truly believed.
Wednesday – arrived in Rudne (pronounced Ruud Nah) and prolific sledging from the juniors Tim Farrant and JJ Wilson began. To be fair they (especially Tim) had a superior record over us. In fact I have only ever beaten Tim once. The 2010 worlds. So we copped it, gave plenty back and went out to the practice course at Horni Blatna. We gained the upper hand them collecting more controls, although they sat laughing at the last one as we flailed in the forest 50m away on the wrong stream junction. Temperatures were terrifyingly high.
Thursday – rest, shopping, food prep, banter and then it pissed down with rain.
Friday – 9:30am map handout and it was game face. The map is 300sq/km approximately 22km long and 13km wide and had 69 controls. Several teams were laughed at when asking about the ability of the scoring chips to hold only 64 controls. Robert drew a quick loop collecting everything, it was 160km. I geeked out and did some tallies and things then drew a straight line course of 110km and collecting all 10 90 pointers and all 80 pointers. Robert drew a more accurate 130km collecting almost all the same points in a similar order. So we refined his loop. Everyone knows you’re going to drop points. We got so close to getting it right. Planned route was 51 controls? and 3350 of a maximum 4400? points
Midday – It's cold for most people and tehy're wrapped up in jackets, pants gloves and beanies. Robert and I are shirt sleeves and shorts. The weather is as good as we could ever hope for. 10-15 degrees, overcast and damp. It really couldn't have been more suited to us.
Gun goes and 234 of the 333 teams set off NW towards #80, we arrive to find only 1 punch, a queue and we were near the front with Tim/JJ (33/34th). We punched in 16 minutes, the last team punched in 40!!!!!! We then took an alternative line out to 66 to get away from everyone and were on our way proper cleanly picking up controls on a regular basis.
The course itself was a mixture of some steep climbs, forestry and numerous connecting roads, tracks and rides which we'd probably refer to as fire breaks. Most were marked, some weren't. Some were clear and distinct, others invisible. There were a lot of very long road/track running sections with no skill required followed by short direct navigation. This was to suit us perfectly in the end.
We started out conservatively wanting to make sure that we had plenty at night and for a strong push in the morning. Other teams went out hard, fast and crashed while others went hard, fast and hung on. The first plot below shows the placings of the final 5 vet mens teams as they picked up controls throughout the day. You can see clearly that our relative position improved markedly as the sun went down and we kept going.
I haven’t gone into the result to far to find out what happened to the many teams placed between 3rd and 15th early in the day to see what happened to them. Nor am I concerned. Their strategy was wrong. What’s interesting in the plot is that for the last 4 hours 3 of us were battling, control by control in separate parts of the course for the lead.
In terms of the points scored, we lost a lot of ground early. We didn’t know that, know one does, we were just happy with how the controls were ticking along. Our goal was to make no mistakes. If we were successful with that we knew we’d have a good score. So that’s what we did.
Of course there were minor errors along the way but we collected every control we attacked and only lost small amounts of time at 2 or 3 of them. Unfortunately one of those small errors came at what ended up being our last control, #81, a small stream, ditch junction that I messed up the entry to. I got pushed too low by scrub and we couldn’t find the correct junction for 15 minutes. This cost us a chance to have an attempt at 76. Looking at the splits of other teams it may have been worth an attempt but would have been touch an go to finish.
Physically – we went out at a consistant pace, but as the day wore on I fatigued a bit and felt I was pushing harder than I’d like which upset my guts a bit. I’d also had a sore arse and the odd show issue, nothing major but it chewed a minute here and a minute there. I kept eating, kept reminding Rob to ease up a bit, put on a jacket and came right again. About this time, maybe 1am or midnight. Rob started having real foot problems. By the end of the day all I can say is that he must be one hell of a hard bastard because there was no complaining and his feet were trashed.
Add to that his shin kept stopping him from running and needed attention every so often. Again, looking at the individual section splits we lost no more time than anyone else. With all that was going on we kept ticking off the controls faster than most teams.
So what does that mean. The slope of the Blue Line is Us is the rate at which we slowed down which is less than the Green Line, Makinen and Oja. I think some form of smoothing curve or spline would look better, but can’t be bothered coding it. Our two biggies were just the way the course was. the First from 79 to 69 involved a longish, steep decent and then climb to the highest point on the map, 1018m of the Auersburg in Germany. It seemed epically long and that we may have made an error. We didn’t we were 5th of 39 teams to go in that direction, 5 teams took over two hours. 16 teams did it in the other direction where, with a longer decent and shorter climb it was 10 minutes faster.
For those that like to know about food and fluids. I had something solid like a piece of Salami and Camembert Roll, or Apple Strudel or Custard Donut every hour on the hour. I had a couple of jelly lollies on every 1/2 hour. Fluids, I had a 1.5L bladder, Robert a 3L, we filled at ~5:30pm, ~1am and 8:30am each time both of us had 2-500ml remaining. So I had around 4-5L for the 24 hours and Robert around 10-11L. Tim Farrant on the other hand had closer to 18L !!!!!
In the end the only numbers that count were 8th and 2nd. We’re happy except both of us picked up a spewing and pooing bug and everyone at work reckons I could do with a few pies. They’re correct.
Cheers and Thanks
Matt (and Robert)
We had a massive shouting match and argument around 9pm. It cleared the air, helped us focus and made for a very successful night.
Chris Fornes' only weakness is his team-mate. He would almost certainly have required a 2nd sport ident card and would have won.
White Lycra is awesome, but only if you finish on the podium.
Nathan Fa'avae said I'd get lost. He's wrong. He should stick to things he's could at which is pretty much everything.
Greig Hamilton would have been pissed off with the lack of navigation and amount of genuine road running required on the course. It certainly didn't fit well for Tim and JJ.
I still hate Prague