Not sure if you received my sprint final email, but hopefully it will make its way to you eventually.
Today four athletes ran the long distance qualification; Julian, Rachel, Vanessa and myself. The qualification was held on a map about 25km from Lausanne, on an extremely flat piece of land, with just one steep-sided creek running through the middle of the map. The map was crisscrossed by a dense network of tracks, and had very variable vegetation, with patches of light green being mostly young beech trees, patches of stripey green being nettles and raspberries, and dark green being generally firs with nettles between. Clearings with striped green were to be avoided at all costs; these generally consisted of head-high nettles with fallen / cut wood between. The white, open areas were quite runnable and very visible, and control sites were mostly small clearings, depressions, thicket edges and the occasional ride. The openess of some of the forest meant that the course was more interesting than many of us expected; instead of track routes being the only viable options, it was sometimes faster to go straight.
After being quarantined in the small town of Apples, I was the first Australian starter, followed by Rachel, Vanessa and then Julian. I ran hard but took fairly conservative route choices to begin; I lost only a small amount of time on controls which I could see but not reach! Later in the course I took some straighter route choices and lost only a minute on control #13, on the end of a ride. I hit the ride and went left, into the striped clearing, while the control was to the right. I finished being irritated by my error but otherwise very happy with my run, and qualified 14th (although the winning Russian was the last starter and was given the wrong map, meaning she should not have run in my heat; this meant that there were 16 qualifiers in my heat instead of the traditional 15). My early start made for a nervous wait to see if I had qualified, but it was nice to have the run out of the way.
Rachel again came very close to qualifying, but sadly missed out. She reported feeling very tired and sluggish towards the end, a result of having been recently unwell. She was quite disappointed, and I hope she can build her confidence back in the relay on Saturday. Vanessa ran a quick race, but a fast heat and a few errors put her out of the final. She will now turn her focus to the Middle distance (which is her speciality, so I’m sure she will have a good result there!). Simone Niggli-Luder ran another great race to finish well clear of her rivals, while Minna Kauppi took top honours in her heat.
The Australian supporters then waited nervously for Julian to finish, and despite his quick splits we were still quite worried until the end! He ran a smooth race however, qualifying in an impressive 7th. The Swiss men were of course the ones to watch again, with Matthias Merz winning his heat, and the other two men easily qualifying. Olav Lundanes took out his heat, finishing right near the end.
Tomorrow should be an exciting day with the Middle Qualification races beginning from 1pm. There will be 5 Australian starters
Hope you’re all well and that it’s not too cold at home. Being up quite high for the races has meant temperatures of around 15 degrees and some rain. Hopefully tomorrow will fine up!