After visiting my family for the month of May I traveled back to Europe for the summer race season. I would be running for my club Fossum IF at Jukola, a few days later racing at the Norsk O Festivalen: Norway’s largest weekend of orienteering races, and then head to Hungary to compete at the Junior World Championships (JWOC).
I arrived in Finland a few days beforehand to allow myself some time to recover from jet lag and to feel out what looked to be some really unique and technical terrain.
After two trainings I was left with mixed feelings about the terrain for Jukola. The first map we ran on ended up being so green and rocky that you had to have a nonstop push in order to maintain control of yourself and continue moving forward. The second map was open and flat and demonstrated how fast the terrain could get.
I was given anchor for our first team and that meant that I would be running against some of the world’s best orienteers. Our team brought me through in 36th and after just under two hours of racing I crossed the finish line in 46th.
As a whole my race showed a good amount of improvement from last year where I had a leg placement of 250, and in one year had improved to 90th in my leg. But inside I knew I could have done a lot better. I had several very large mistakes, losing 5 minutes on the 4th control and another 8 to the 18th, and the rest of the race was plagued with la-di-da route choices and poor execution when coming into controls.
Coming out of Jukola I was humbled. A Spring filled with strong races had made me relax a bit too much and that came back to bite. After regrouping I set my sights on to my final prep race before JWOC, the Norsk O Festivalen.
The first race of the weekend was a sprint. My class, H19-20E, had just about all of Norway’s top junior boys whom are also some of the best juniors in the world. Heading to the first control I was dropped right into a sprint type forest and then quickly transitioned into technical housing complexes, to large, oddly shaped business headquarters and finally sent in and out of more sprint type forests that had the added distraction of man made fences.
The course had a bit of it all, and so did my run. I excelled through the more technical portions (a bit to my surprise) and then ended up relaxing my navigation a bit too much when running longer legs and while popping in and out of forested areas towards the end of the race.
Overall the race went pretty well and I placed 4th, just seconds from a podium finish. This ended up being an excellent JWOC test race and was a great demonstration of how I could fair with a decent race. At JWOC I have my eyes on performing a very similar race to this, nothing special, but enough to set myself up for the possibility of good things happening.
Coming into the Long Distance the next day I focused on quicker, shorter steps to help with more frequent map reading and better running through the rugged terrain. After just under an hour of racing I tripped and my leg knee landed on a rock, taking the brunt of my fall. I laid on the ground for a good minute or so and it became clear to me that I would have to carefully finish up the race and upon finishing take good care of my knee.
The coming hours and days proved that I had hit my knee pretty well but not well enough to majorly injure anything. I took Sunday off, and have since then been working towards full recovery. Yesterday, five days after the hit, inflammation went down enough to allow me to complete a 40 minute run. I feel confident enough now to say that I will be in good enough form to run all of the JWOC races 🙂
From first glance it might look like my several weeks before JWOC should leave one thinking that my orienteering is currently all over the place. But I see an upward slope. I am following it and my races have been within it’s range. Jukola kicked me in the butt, I re-amped and produced a decent race in the sprint and then got another kick in the butt from the Long Distance. Now its time to try and plot a few points on the other side my range: and balance things out.
I would like to thank Fossum IF for such an incredible job hosting the Norsk O Festivalen and for all that they have done for me over the past year. They are a club with a fun, young group of runners, an excellent coach and tons of supportive parents whom help make just a great club possible!
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