The JWOC week is well underway. We've had a few tough moments but overall it has been a phenomenal experience so far.
Our first goal is to make it the start line with everything that we need (there is a long checklist of things to remember) and so far we have succeeded (touch wood). We were all a bit nervous about having to wear GPS trackers. The thought of having people back home follow your dot around a screen is rather daunting and there was lots of moaning from the boys about having to wear GPS vests. Getting to see exactly where we went after the race is pretty cool though so we've come to appreciate the little black box that they put into our back pockets at the pre-start.
The Middle Qualification race was a challenging one. The terrain is tricky and we all had one pretty big mistake. The rest of the legs were executed fairly well and so there were lots of positives to take from our races. We all qualified for the C finals. In the afternoon, Coach Sarah got to run a course in the Fin5 which she was really excited about. She also found the terrain very tricky and slow going and was able to appreciate what the team was up against in the morning.
The Middle Final sent competitors straight into a really detailed area. This caused some problems for us but there were still some decent results. We then hung around to watch the A-final in the afternoon. We had a great spot on a gentle grassy slope overlooking the arena passage and Reece provided us with amazing snacks. Watching the best juniors in the world cruise past is very exciting! The vibe was pretty epic, especially when home favourite Olli Ojanaho came running in to claim gold.
Next up was the sprint - the race that we were all looking forward to the most. It rained most of Tuesday night and it was pretty miserable when we woke up. This meant that there were some seriously slippery sections out there. If you don't believe us, check out some great photos of people landing on their bums here. Both Christie and Andries had nasty falls but despite this they both produced fantastic results. Christie had one of the best performances by a South African lady ever and is only the 3rd SA lady to dip below 130% of the winners time in a sprint at JWOC. Andries also managed to join the 130% of the winners time club. Carl had a very solid run and kept fighting all the way into the finish. Once again we stuck around to see who would take the medals home. We were very excited when Tommy Hayes from New Zealand claimed silver in the competitive men's class. It's always great when our fellow Southern Hemisphere orienteers do so well!
We were all grateful for the rest day We had a good night's rest then went exploring. Another trip to the Orienteering shop was non-negotiable and then we went for Pizza followed by a trip to the Pyynikki Observation tower and where we had big ice-creams. The moment of the day was when Andries almost dropped his whole ice-cream on the floor but used his mad cricket fielding skills to save it inches from the floor. We laughed for a good 5 minutes :-) The fail of the day was Coach Sarah and Manager Andries missing the first part of the team leaders meeting (it was at a different time than it usually is). Luckily they were there for the most important part - the info about the party. And the Canadian coach was kind enough to fill Sarah in on the rest.
The Long is certainly not our favourite race, but we had good plans and had no major mistakes. The boys were a bit disappointing to miss their goals but both were pretty close to achieving them and improved massively from last year! Christie wasn't too happy with her race but her result was fantastic. Still waiting for stats from the team statistician (Tania).
Tomorrow is the relay! We have entered a men's team with Andries running first, Christie second and Carl will be bringing us home. Be sure to check out the GPS tracking