Had done lots of geeking with Tom the night before regarding tactics but would liked to have done more work in trying to memorize the map if I'd given myself more time. See the previous day's training. Jamie and Jonny had just saying how you had to push hard just to qualify so I treated it like all the rest of the week's races.
Did the warm up controls at race pace which was too fast as I was usually a little off in the circle so felt needed to slow down a little in the race.
Was feeling good after the jog to the start and was cool with having another couple of guys starting at the same time.
Set off well to #1 letting the others go left, crossing the stream okay and aiming for the marsh on the far side of the open which was the last attackpoint I'd chosen before the control. The marsh turned out to be more like a pond and I got stuck in it for an easy 10s.
This was about 200m before the control and from there I knew it was very vague and I was attempting to aim-off along a subtle sloping ridge. I think I climbed too high from the marsh and hit the ridge to the right of the control and may have even seen it but the main thing I was thinking was that I knew I already didn't have a clue where I was and I'd messed up the very first control. In the rush I turned right and relocated higher up on the small elongated knoll and dropped down into the control. 3.51 +1.42 (though +1.18 on the second fastest).
I think I saw my 2 minute man on the way up the hill to 2 so he must have messed it by as well but he was too far ahead to catch or gain anyting from.
#2 was a good uphill leg where my straight/map-reading technique worked well with a 4th on the leg although it didn't feel special :)
Three was a bit poor and I drifted right out of the control (not sure why) and got stuck in the middle of another marsh. Going round was too far so I had to tip-toe along log across to the other side and was just a bit pissed of really with being unlucky a second time. Got back on track okay and found it okay.
#s 4 and 5 were good solid legs and I was with one of my fellow starters but it was a surprisingly quiet otherwise. 5 was at the top of the course so I knew most of the climb was over and I should be able to catch up some of my time.
I dropped down to 6 making sure I slowed at the brow of the hill to look and see the features ahead getting first on the leg. It started to get busier as I came down the hill and there were a group of people looking for controls near seven but I focused on my orienteering and got it fine.
To #8 I played it safe going right round the all the green but got on the wrong hill near the control along with a few other people. Should have adjusted my plan more for the green. +22s.
On the way to number 8 I seemed to get in a little group but didn't have a clue whether they were in the same course as me but wasn't too bothered. #9 looked pretty simple on a bearing just clipping the bottom of the rough open. From the open to the control I kept a bit high trying to avoid some rough stuff but went onto the larger hill behind so had to drop back behind me losing some time on the other guys: don't be scared of vegetation inside the circle.
Similar to 8 I wanted to avoid the veg to 10 so looped the long way round to the right, across the path, between the hills and then curved east then south into the control. I'd lost the pack a little so was a bit unsure as I came though the open and it took me a little while to confidently attack the control. On this leg I didn't follow my plan strictly enough - I found a simple route but didn't stop at the beggining of the leg to double check - if I had I would have spotted the indistinct path through the open saving about 35s.
Out of 10 I could see the little group again. I was very pleased but surprised that at a good pace I picked off the features on the way to stay on my bearing and dipped into the control perfectly. Jamie mentioned it was really rough out of the control but I don't seem to remember :) Fastest on leg.
Knew I didn't want to have to read too much late on in the course when I was getting tired so opted for the eastern path route to #12. It did feel a long way out especially at first, but the track was good once I'd figured out how they'd mapped the open. Was definitely starting to feel tired so took it a bit more as a rest than an opportunity to read ahead. Climbing up to the control was a bit tough but was the same as from other directions. Just at the control got in a group of people I'd not seen before so I think my route must have been good even though I wasn't pushing it.
#13 was into the really vague area me and Tom had talked about last night. He was definitely going to play it safe but I was confident the few features would be just obvious enough to pay off going straight. For the first part of the leg I was a bit reckless and worked my way though the pack instead of reading my map. It worked okay though and I got back in contact by the knoll-marsh-slope feature we had identified from the night before. I crossed the re-entrant fine and went along the top of the slope under the line. I crossed the stream though a bit too fast, and not sure at what height, and then the small re-entrant after the control before slowing down to look around. There did seem to be a lot of root stocks, albeit small ones, but non had my control. I saw the path below so turned back up and saw some people running across higher up so went after them. On my way though I saw the east-west track and knew I had overshot. I didn't look at my compass properly or double check exactly where I was so when I turned back I was too high and had to drop down to finally punch the control. +90s At this point, after my second big mistake, I was pretty sure any chance of qualificationhad gone.
Thinking that 14 and 15 were steady with no problems. Heading to sixteen I thought I should put in a strong finish and jumped down the bank quite quick. The run-in was a nice one but tbh I didn't push as hard as I could have and as +5s on Jonny.
At the finish I was pretty angry with myself. This was the one race I thought I could (and should) do best in and after a disappointing Sprint and awful Long was annoyed that I'd thrown it away by recklessly running too fast. I thought I'd easily lost about 3 1/2 minutes leaving loads of room for people to slip in in front of me.
Out of a field of 60 the top 20 qualified and when I left the finish field I was 6th out of 18 - so in the top third - I just hoped luck was on my side and the probabilities would work out in my favour despite better runners probably starting later.
The two major mistakes were from running too fast and the other big one (#10) from rushing on and not double checking my route. All should be cut out by having the confidence to take a little more time over things which I did get after see where a mistake-free run would have placed me.
When Jamie told me back at the accomodation I'd jointly qualified in 19th and that if I'd been two seconds slower I'd have been out I was very very relieved and glad to get a second chance to prove myself.
Knowing how much time I thought I'd lost I was surprised to see that if I cut out only the major mistakes I would have comfortably qualified in the top 10 and with a clean run would have been competing to win the heat.
Looking at the splits later I could see I'd got a couple of fastest splits with a couple of top tens and the rest good enough (apart from the mistakes) for a good result. Overnight I decided that aiming for a top 10 would be a realistic (and pretty cool) aim for the final and maybe even a podium with a perfect run. I didn't want to add any more things to think about come the race and only told myself to slow down a little.