Toby Scott and myself (Briana Steven), attended the second round of the World Cup which was held in Rakvere, Estonia and doubled as the European Champs. After a very green and bushy model event, the Estonian Orienteering President summed it up perfectly: “In the Estonia forest you should feel pain. If you don’t feel pain in the forest, then you will feel pain when you look at the results.”
This sentiment was very accurate in the middle qualification where many suffered large mistakes in the thick vegetation, including Toby who sank 7 minutes into one control. I had a surprisingly good first ever elite race, finishing 27th in my heat so the only Oceanic entry through to the A final was Aston Key. For a group who only had 60 minutes training in the forest (compared to the scandi’s who had training weeks aplenty) it was a very solid effort.
The long was very long, with the women’s winning time more than 15 minutes longer than estimated over the 12.9km. Once again there were some very thick areas of forest which slowed things down, and a somewhat controversial river crossing over an “uncrossable” body of water, where competitors who assumed the river would be too difficult to cross chose wider routes. I survived the whole race, which was my primary goal, and ended up 79th out of 107 entries and only 63 minutes down on the winner! Toby had a redemption from the middle qual to take 57th, but was hurt by the river situation so could have shaved off some minutes.
The middle final allowed the B racers to hang in the arena to see the A final play out, which was incredibly exciting, and then once the rain had cleared, and the tracking in the forest had been made the B final started. Again it was thick bush in a lot of places, but some sections were actually nice white open forest which made a lovely break in battling through the bush. I can’t speak for Toby but after just two races before this one I was completely exhausted, and feeling dead before I had even reached the start triangle. But there are no world ranking points if you don’t find all the controls so I reached the finish line in just over an hour to land at 35th, and Toby came in to 19th.
The crazy forest shook up the playing field in the elites, so there were some different faces on the podiums including an Estonia silver in the women’s middle final. It was amazing to finally reach the elite stage. It came close a few times when I was getting stuck between logs or in vines. I am excited to return next year to some more competitions. It will be amazing to see more black NZ shirts at world cups in the future as we start to venture out across the globe again, the Australians had a full 12 person squad at this event so it’s not impossible.
By Briana Steven
#EOC #wordcup2 #EOC2022