Run race ((orienteering)) 2:26:31  *** 18.2 km (8:03 / km) +540m 7:01 / km
WOC long trials have a well-deserved reputation for epics and this was no exception, something well-anticipated once we saw a course length that started with an 18. I haven't run a course of that length since the 2001 Victorian Championships at Whroo (now that the long-O is almost extinct in Australia; my longest course of all was a 27k long-O (250m climb) in the New Forest when I was living in Winchester in 1989, my longest non-rogaine time a 2.57 when I thought that having just turned 15 was good enough reason to step up to the longest course at the ACT long-O).
The omens were not promising before the start. I'd woken at 4.45 and been unable to get back to sleep, and the about-to-get-a-cold feeling of yesterday morning had translated into a have-got-a-cold feeling this morning. Once running, though, it wasn't too bad, at least at cruising speed which was about as much as I could manage - big hills would have been a big problem but there were only a couple of major climbs today.
I felt as if I was doing all right when Simon went through me 4 minutes at 6 at the end of a 25-minute leg (as it turned out he'd lost a couple of minutes on 1, not a possibility one normally considers when assessing the place he's likely to catch you). Didn't find the green western end of the map pleasant but neither did anyone else, and continued to feel reasonable through a section with Sebba from 12 to 16, although this included a couple of errors, drifting wide into 13 (I thought this was a 1-minuter but the splits suggest it was double that) and a wrong track out of 15 (picked up quickly). Dropped Sebba on the climb into 16 and had a reasonable stretch after that, and still felt as if I had a bit left at the run-through with about 3k to go. It went a bit pear-shaped from there; first a sharp (but fortunately not persistent) cramp on the way out of 25, then missed the tucked-away-in-green 26, twice going within 20 metres of it and dropping 3 minutes (as did Robbie, who'd caught me there). Finished off OK and in fact had my best split of the day on 27.
I was surviving rather than racing today, but it was still an improvement on Queensland despite the unpromising circumstances. It's been an annoyance not to have been 100% well on so many race weekends this year - I suspect not sleeping enough probably has a bit to do with that - but getting through this will be a help for future long-distance races. (Not that there will be too many more of those this year, given that I'm event adviser for the Australian Long Championships).
Certainly knew I'd been in a race this afternoon (and will do so more tomorrow), and the flight back was not one of the more pleasant 90 minutes I've spent in my life as I tried unsuccessfully to find a sitting position that my hamstrings were happy with.