First of all, it’s been a pleasure writing this blog this summer, and I hope you’ve enjoyed it as much as I have. I wouldn’t have kept it going if it hadn’t been for everyone out there reading it (and the encouragement of my teammates while we were training and racing together, but mostly it was because of everyone back home!), so I’m so grateful to you, my readers, for all the views, feedback, and comments! I’ve had a lot of traveling and goodbyes to say since my last days at JWOC, but I’m now at home in the U.S., and I’ve finally written and uploaded everything, so without further ado… here you are! The last few days at JWOC!
JWOC: Middle Qualification
Anna, Addison, Matt, and I drove over to the start first thing in the morning, put down all our stuff in the shade next to the finish, then stood by the finish chute and cheered on all the runners coming in. Anna and I are really loud (well I guess it’s mostly me yelling… but what can I say, I have a loud cheering voice!) and there weren’t many others cheering, so in between the finishes of our teammates, we occupied ourselves by cheering on orienteers from other countries.
As a team, I’d say we did really well, better than we have in previous years. Although none of our team made it to the podium, collectively everyone improved from last year, and from the years before. Katrina was two places out of qualifying for the women’s A-final, which is as close as anyone has gotten in a long time. And Ethan made the A-final!!! We were all so proud of him (here’s a video which shows what it was like to be in the arena, and everyone’s reaction to Ethan making the A-final)!
After everyone had finished, we warmed up and started in the Tour races. Anna ran well, I didn’t (again 😦 ). The map was really hard and technical. I started to do well in the end, although in the beginning I made a lot of mistakes. But I think my race was better than it was on the day of the Long, and I still beat people on my course.
The rest of the day was pretty straightforward. We packed up, drove off back to the cottage, showered, and ate dinner.
JWOC: Middle Final
Today was very similar to yesterday, especially because the arena, finish chute, and parking areas were the same as for yesterday (although we ran on a different map for the actual race). We drove up, set all our stuff down, and since we were a little early for our teammates, we went a little crazy with the paint. Anna painted a USA flag on Addison’s arm, and I did the OUSA logo on Will’s. I painted red, white and blue stars all up the side of my left arm. We all looked really good, especially because we were wearing our USA uniforms as well. And I noticed a lot of the spectators from other countries had face paint on (maybe they saw me, Anna, and the French girls putting it on yesterday and they took their cues from us!) which went along with the heightened feeling of patriotism and spirit in the crowd (heightened from yesterday, at least).
In terms of results, the races were a little less spectacular than yesterday. All the girls did pretty well in the B-final (I think Izzy and Elina ran particularly good races out of the bunch), but the boys were less good, although they were still better than in previous years. I think there was a lot of pressure on the A-finalists, but for many of the runners in the B and C-finals it was a less serious, more fun race. Still, I think our men’s team had a lot of potential, and could have done much better than they actually did.
For me, today’s race was… good! I actually had a clean run (well, much, much cleaner than the past two days!) I made a lot of smaller mistakes, but nothing so big that I totally blew up like in my other races. I made some good, safe route choices, and my bearings were really accurate. It felt so nice to have a good race for a change.
It doesn’t really show in the results, because I’m still near the bottom of the pack, but it was just slowness and carefulness, not an abundance of mistakes. I felt a lot better about my orienteering today than after any of the other races so far. And I’m no longer last in the tour races overall, either!
After the races… you guessed it! We went home, showered, changed, and ate dinner.
It was raining really hard on the morning of the relay, so me and Anna were less than enthused about getting out to cheer for everyone. But we got a ride most of the way up (they held the relay right in Borovets, really near the JWOC hotel, so we could actually walk to the arena from our cottage), and we were pretty warm and dry in our raincoats, so spectating wasn’t too bad. And the relay was really exciting! Although none of the USA teams did spectacularly well, it was cool seeing all the teams compete, and knowing exactly where everyone’s place was in real time. They had a spectator control, so you could see the countries crossing over to do their second loop (at least, if you could distinguish their jerseys. I had a little trouble in the beginning because of the rain, but when the sun came out I could see fine) and whether anyone had been passed or not. And then the finish was really exciting because the top three girls came across before anyone else, and they ran out from the spectator control in the exact same order that they finished. The finish for the guys was also really close—the Swedish runner came in only six seconds before the second place Czech guy, and when they were running across the field the Czech orienteer was gaining, so we thought it was going to be a photo finish!
One of the coolest things about the relay was the team aspect. When the last leg runner came in, at least for the top countries, their teammates would run in the finish chute alongside them, celebrating. David Yee took so many really great pictures of the relay (you can see them all here), but for me one of them in particular of the Swedish team finishing was just awesome!
After the relay we raced in the Tour (mine was awful. I died on the hills, and I just made way too many mistakes for such a navigationally easy course. But it’s over now, and it was fun, so I’m not thinking about it anymore!) and then we were done!! There was a last minute flurry of trading jerseys and saying goodbyes over at the arena, then everyone left to go get ready for dinner and the banquet later on in the night.
It’s been such a wonderful experience to go on this trip, but also to write about it for all of you. I don’t think I would have taken as many pictures, or even reflected on the day’s events without this blog to keep me thinking about things. I’m already itching to go back over the oldest posts and read about what we did, and how far we’ve come from there! I hope it’s been as fun for you as it’s been for me.
Thanks for reading.
P.S. In case you’re confused at all as to what I look like, here are some freebie pictures of me throughout the trip. But beware: I am a goof. You’ve been warned.
Enjoy the rest of your summer… and maybe I’ll see you next year for JWOC 2015!