After an exhilarating day at Darnaway for the relay followed by a team and supporters dinner in Inverness to help celebrate Tim’s birthday, apologies for the late report on goings on in Scotland! But, yes, amazing performances by all in both the men’s and women’s relays with the men improving from 23rd last year to 16th – finishing only just behind Denmark and ahead of Russia – and the women moving from 18th to 14 th ahead of both Ukraine and Russia.
The courses in the moraine of northern Darnaway were very fast and had an intricate forking system with a pivot control visited twice, and a map flip half way through. There were 6 different legs leading off from the pivot, and Lizzie on leg 1 from the women suddenly found the entire field in front of her heading right while her control was straight on. Running the rest of the leg practically alone she warned Renee, as they changed over, to run her own race. Despite seeing Ida Bobach of Denmark, the runaway leader, at the pivot, Renee did just that handing over to Laura in 18th position. Laura then proceeded to run the race of her life picking up 4 places and almost chasing down Spain in the long finish chute to finish 14th. The gap to Denmark at the front was large, but it was for nearly everyone as Maja Alm and Ida Bobach gave Emma Klingenberg a big lead which even a mistake on leg 3 could not unduly trouble. Norway and Sweden filled the medal places.
So, the men. Having run in the Scottish 6-day races for the last 2 days, Gene could have been thought to be over (or under) prepared – but, wow, what a first leg! Seen at the back of the pack early on, he gradually put on the pace, moving through the field, to come in in 12th position well in touch with the teams in front. Shamus, cool as, had a good start, made a mistake at the pivot, but climbed steadily back through the field to regain 14th place for Matt on the last leg. Matt admitted afterwards that, with the middle in the much rougher part of Darnaway and the rugged Glen Affric for the long in mind, he hadn’t trained for the kind of speed evident in this race, nevertheless he hung on for 16th and, importantly, finished 5 placed ahead of Belgium to move the men to touching distance of promotion to Group 2! Switzerland, like Denmark in the women, were runaway winners, notwithstanding Belarus coming 1st on leg 1. Norway came from nowhere at the start of the last leg to take silver, while France pipped GBR for bronze.
So a great day celebrated with a visit, joined by Robertson and Ingham clans, Rob, Marquita and Al Landels to Bella Italia for a post-race pasta meal and birthday cake for Tim, who re-emerged from Elgin, arm in a sling but in high spirits. However, again a downside, with Al C-W ending in Inverness hospital overnight after a thorn he picked up on Monday has developed into cellulitis. We all wish him well.
Now the long….
Men:1. Switzerland 101-40, 2. Norway 103-30, 3. France 103-52, 16. New Zealand 111-04 (Gene 35-06, Shamus 37-51, Matt 38-07)
1. Denmark 109-6, 2. Norway 112-08, 3. Sweden 112-17, 14. New Zealand 132-41 (Lizzie 44-06, Renee 45-59, Laura 42-36)