The map was about a hour’s drive away, so in the morning we just packed up all our clothes, our racing uniforms, and our lunches, and spent the whole day camped out in the arena. We mostly hung out at the finish, because it was the most exciting place to spectate, but whenever we caught a glimpse of someone running up the hill to the spectator control we would run over to the other side to cheer them on and get pictures. It was a tiring day for me—and I can’t even imagine how hard it was for the people racing. The courses were really long, and the winning time for the girls’ race was about 15 minutes longer than the predicted winning time, so I think it was much harder than the organizers expected as well. Most people who came in collapsed for a few minutes right after they punched the finish, and they all were covered in mud and dirt and sweat—like they had fought a battle.
[note: again, Dave has taken excellent photos of the long runners on the course and near the finish. Photos of most of the US, Canadian, and top finishers can be found here, while a more complete set of photos including those same runners and most of the other countries can be found here.]
After everyone had finished, cooled down, and driven off, the Tour racers got ready to go. We put on our shoes and changed into our racing uniforms, and got our compasses, e-punches, and control description holders (first time digging that thing out of my bag!). Anna and I had just started our warm up by running up the hill to the start when it started to rain. We were soaked even before we started. It was too bad, because the rain had held off all day for the long races…
I finished warming up and realized I was actually late for my start, so I had to skip two minutes in the call up line. I started my course feeling flustered and distracted, and that feeling definitely affected my course. My worst mistake was probably on the first control. It was because I went out of the start triangle without a plan, and just kind of ran on a rough bearing. I ended up hitting the river that borders the map on the eastern side, way past the control, but since I thought for some reason that I was too far north of the control, I climbed into the green kind of diagonally until I hit the road above the control. Then I finally pinpointed exactly where I was. I attacked from the road and hit it straight on. I should have just climbed to the road from the beginning, or at least actually read the map and made a plan before leaving the start. Looking back on the course, there were definitely distinct features I could have used as attackpoints on the way… I just wasn’t thinking.
Two was okay, but then I made another 15-minute mistake on three… and the rest of the course proceeded in a similar way. I’d have a couple okay controls, and then completely blow up on the next one. It was a really poor race. To complicate matters, towards the end of the course it got a lot colder, and with the cold and wet my hands became really numb. So besides having trouble actually reading the map, my hands didn’t work, and I couldn’t hold it properly. At one point I had to fold the map with my teeth.
Reflecting back on the course as I look at the map, I find that I liked the course, and the mapping, and the terrain. But I appreciated none of that right after I finished—I just felt really demoralized and like a complete failure! I had warmed up with such high expectations for myself, and it was a real blow to have such a terrible race.
I finished last out of our group, so right after I got back and changed, we left. I came back home to a nice warm bowl of soup and more chili (that I had made yesterday afternoon), which made me feel a little better. But I still felt sucky.