After a one year pause I have decided to go to the WOC again, of course just as a spectator and compete there in spectator race also. This year WOC took place in Scotland. I have never run in The United Kingdom before so I was pretty curious how the terrain will look like. Before these competitions I was traveling across Scotland and do some treks in mountains. I didn’t run so much so before the first stage I was really anger to run in the forest again.
In six stages we have discovered many different terrains.
Stage 1. After the start I entered the terrain that resembled Sweden very much but it was much faster with better surface than I am used to from Sweden. I started pretty fast for as I told before I could not wait for it. After that part we entered diametrally different terrain. The one of control points was in a shooting range with targets in shapes of different animals such as wild boars and so on. That was the control I did my biggest mistakes this day. Many paths and many people around me made a little fuss and I could not concetrate properly on my run and suddenly I found myself in place I didn’t exactly know where it was in the map. But with a bit of luck I could find the control soon a continue to first touch of real scottish terrain. A big swamp overgrown with heather and some torny plant I don’t know but now I know that it punishes you when you try to get through it. The end was in semi-open heath with pretty good visibility but limited runnability. I ended up on 24th place this day what was little bit dissapointment for me because my goal was to attack first ten in overall result. MAP
After the first stage I realized also one thing. Due to more than 6000 competitors each day and the charackter of terrains it really depends when you start. If you start in the earlier start times you have quite big disadvantage in comparsion with later runners which already have paths in the forest through heaths and high ferns and, well, everywhere else as well.
Stage 2. When I look back then this was likely the most interesting terrain at these competitions. The whole race was like an adventure for me. Everything was wet, really wet. Terrain was various. From the birch forest in the lower parts surrounded with high fern fields to the semi-open to open heaths with rocks and cliffs in higher parts. During the race you had to jump, climb, slide in the mud or cross an uncrossable heather or navigate through the dark fairytale-like forest in the end. I really enjoyed that race. And it was also my best result. 10th place was pretty satisfying. MAP
Stage 3. After the day off we jumped to the totally different terrain once again. In Darnaway, with the competition center in front of lord Mooray’s castle (rather a chateau) we ran in a surrounding forest which was much cleaner and a surface was much faster than previous days. This day it was the only middle among the six stages and I went to the forest at the very beginning. I ran pretty good with one or two smaller mistakes. And it was really fast, especially in the second part it was just running very fast and punching controls. I like that kind of orienteering very much and I can say this is what an ordinary orienteering should look like in my opinion. However my result, 21st place, doesn’t look like as good. It was mainly because, as I mentioned before, a forest was getting faster during the time and if one had trails from control to control in this forest it was really easy to just follow and run full speed. MAP
Stage 4. The competition center was same as at stage 3 but we ran in the another part of the Darnaway forest. And it was even faster than the day before. Our course was 10,1 km long and I ran it even with some mistakes and not very good feelings in my legs for 58′. But the fact that was it fast doesn’t mean it was boring. Interesting contours shapes made by a ice age glacier made need of full concentration for the whole time of a race. I was 14th. MAP
Stage 5. That stage was completely different story. We moved to Glen Affric and stage 5 took place in the southern part of the area. And from the very beginning it was literally a horror. It was almost impossible to run there. Water was everywhere, there were also plenty of areas of fallen trees where 100m took severel minutes to cross. Map also wasn’t the best I ran on. For example the first control have should been two contours above the stream at some cliff but in reality it was on the same level as the stream, on the bank what suprised me a lot when I finally found the control after few minutes running 10 m higher. I really suffered the whole race. I had a feeling that I am more on the ground than standing on my legs. And two controls before the finish I hit my thigh directly by some branch or rather a trunk so I had a problem to even finish the race. My running style after this accident must have looked very funny, like some monkey running style. I finished the race in time of 99′. If consider that the course had an exactly same lenght as the stage 4 and my time was 41 minutes slower then you can imagine how it was for me. Final 36th position was not what I expected and I fell in overall results from 11th to 14th position before the final stage. MAP
Stage 6. All other cathegories but elite had a normal course. We had a 14km long distance on the 1:15 000 map with 750 metres of climbing in the same area as WOC long took place. I felt really tired without any energy to the race and in the morning I almost couldn’t get up from the bed due the pain in the leg I hit in stage 5. However I had no choice and had to run and fight. After 3 minute mistake to the first control where I was running around the right spot but I couldn’t see the object even though it was a stone I was really down and I couldn’t imagine how I will make it hrough the next 14 kilometres. At this stage we start from the last one in the overall ranking to the first one. So I was caught by some better runners from behind and run together. At the sixth control I made another big mistake where I couldn’t read map properly and didn’t understand where I was so I found the seventh control sooner than sixth. Than I ran in some group of runners who started before and behind me. By the time the group diminished to 4 runners. We were only one who could keep the quite good pace. This first part of the race was mainly in the semi open hills with marshes and heaths and of course high fern fields but with the beautiful views to the top parts of Glenn Affric national park. Second part was in the forest where the surface was pretty fast and there were also a lot of paths made by runners in other cathegories so the navigation was much easier here. On 20th control there should have been a refreshment station for elite cathegories but when we reached this control we found only a lot of empty bottles on the ground so it was pretty tough to finish without any refreshment. However I made it. Three controls before finish I even caught my brother who started one hour before me :). It was 13th place in the stage as well as in the overall ranking. MAP
It was good experience for me to run in these interesting and funny terrains in Scotland and I am even quite satisfied with my performance.