Seeing as I myself was thrashing my way through some tough Estonian terrain in the spectator races (I took over 2 hours for my 10km course and came last but I enjoyed myself) - and therefore missed most of the day's action, I thought I'd fill my summary of the Long distance race with the thoughts of a few of the GB athletes - thanks to the team for providing us with the inside information.
First, a quick round up of the GB results: Hollie 16th, Jess 17th, Ralph 18th, Alan 25th, Charlotte 25th, Jonny 32nd. It was Jonny and Jess's first time running a WOC Long, Hollie's first result (after two disqualifications) and all six had their best ever WOC Long distance placing.
16th Place, 91:32 (+12:22)
"I came away with mixed feelings yesterday, I was very happy to be able to stand on the start line after the last few months which at times have felt like a bit of a battle. Although things have not been quite as planned the indicators in the last few training sessions were good and I was quietly excited about what the prospects might be. I love the brutality of the long distance race and the course did not disappoint, there were some good route choices and tricky green legs. However I had a few too many 'muppet' moments which outweighed a largely good race and so I missed my top 10 target but it has given me the hunger for the middle."
32nd Place, 128:32 (+23:07)
"WOC long has always been an iconic race for me. Even though the last few years I have concentrated more on sprint I was incredibly excited when I got the call that I was going to be racing it. The day came and I felt ready for it and had a plan which was quite simply to avoid green and marshes if possible and have safe routes to minimise mistakes. I guessed this would be playing to my strengths. The descriptions were amusing as I saw we had drinks controls at 2,5,and 8. We were told they were 25min apart so I knew we had some early long legs. On these I took the paths running well and sometimes my routes were quick and others I should have gone straighter. After about 90min though my body started giving up and after jumping over the 50th fallen tree the hamstring cramps set in and from then on it was shuffling in as best I could. The run through was quite an experience with the crowds even if the orienteering was a bit boring on the last loop."
25th Place, 97:51 (+18:41)
"The terrain, as expected, was very tough. I felt I was focusing well at the start but then I made a mistake coming into the 5th control. I tried to put it behind me but never really managed to regain focus fully which I am annoyed with myself for. I am encouraged by how I was running compared to others at the start of my race and my result but felt I could have done better. For me the race was about setting a benchmark to work from for the next few years and there is certainly lots to improve so I'm excited and motivated for training in the future."
Things You Might Have Missed
As mentioned, the area is very marshy, with a number of uncrossable marshes on the map - but did you know these are formed by beaver dams, which raise the water level and kill the trees? I didn't, until I ran past a beaver dam on my course today (and promptly fell in the small river it had created).
And finally, I present to you my favourite picture from the day's event - I think it perfectly sums up just how tough it was out there, especially with the double hill climb at the finish. I particularly like how it captures the various stages of recovery post-race: