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JWOC Jaffe Files - Long Final

Monday, 17 July 2017

The team were well prepared for the long today after the traditional afternoon tea with the supporters yesterday.  They polished off all kinds of Finish pastries and the famous cinnamon buns as well as he strawberries that are on sale in many road side stalls and are terrific. We were also entertained by the Finish team who were prepping in their exclusive “sauna” but had to come through our picnic area to get to the water to cool off.  They seem slightly less intimidating wearing budgee smugglers and bikinis!

A chillier day in Finland with the odd shower blowing through the arena surrounded on two sides by forest.  At last we got to wear some of the warm clothes we had brought.  The JWOC long is the ‘classic” race of  the carnival so surprisingly had only a short run in and no spectator control. Luckily the sat tracking and split times kept us in touch with the athletes and the commentary team did a better job.

This year JWOC and the Fin 5 have run together.  The collective JWOC fan club  critique would be that at times Fin 5 has almost seemed a priority for the organisers. Today the Fin 5 starts were from 9-12 and the JWOC starts from 9 to 3.  The long race with 170 Boys and 160 girls needed that big a start window as they start three minutes apart.  Despite that, some trains still developed. The map had some great route choice legs and they were aiming for 65-70 minutes winning times for the boys and 60-65 for the girls.

The map was classic Finish terrain with plenty of light green,  many smaller rocky hills and lots of marshes.  Many of the marshes here though aren’t really obvious features well not to my untrained eye.  There are also lots of hashed felled areas that are really tough under foot and the forest floor has low level blueberry bushes, spongy moss and moss covered rocks .For a long distance there were sometimes real issues finding the control in the circle. Single boulders on the side of hills in light green aren’t easy and the boulder mapping here is ‘selective”.  It’s also harder to hang your hat on bare rock (not that I have ever tried hanging my hat on a bare rock).

Both courses had one monster long leg with a “go straight but go  green” or “go wide and go by road” option. My observation was that nearly all the top runners went the straighter route. Many of the team put their fancied runners in the last start block so early positions are a bit deceptive.  By then there must be quite a lot of elephant tracks particularly on shorter legs.  I ran late in the Fin 5 today and there were elephant tracks everywhere almost too many to be of help. With the fieldback loaded  You think someone has gone well and then they drop 30 or 40 places as the final runners come through.  Oli O and Simona A were favourites for a triple gold.

Caroline Pigerre was one of the first off and ran a very respectable 89 minutes at her first JWOC.  That got her 98th place and she was very pleased. Toby Wilson came home in 94.22, looked strong but as early leaders notched 69 minute times it was clear that sub 90 was respectable, sub 80 very good and sub 70 meant a likely top 10. Jarrah Day was next back and had a very solid run in 87.14.  By the end of the day that put him in 82nd.  He looked fit and fast on the run in with his best run of the week. Winnie O ran slightly faster than Caroline (two minutes) and Tara M was another two minutes faster again in her best forest run of the week. That got her 88th by end of day.

Simeon Burrill also finished looking strong in 91 minutes which eventually put him 101st.  I tracked Patrick most of the way.  He was in good shape at the first radio control  but said he made a two minute mistake early. On the long leg he went wide and took the road. It looked like that was slower by a minute. The trouble with sat tracking is that everything is visible. We` watched as he stood on the edge of the circle at 15 for what seemed like ages but must have cost him two minutes.  Patrick then led a pack home in 88.32 for 89th place. He wasn’t that happy as he’d hoped to have a clear run. Meanwhile Zoe Dowling backed up her middle form with a very strong run . She ran clean and strong and her time off 77 08 put her 59th.  That was her best Long performance.

Asha was next out and I tracked her. She went well till another control in greenish stuff gave her some problems before her long leg where she also took the wide option. With 5 controls to go Simona Aebersol passed her and Asha said she appeared to float along.  At one point Asha fell and ended up lying on some moss.  She said “it was so comfortable that I could have gone to sleep”.  Luckily she didn’t and did 86.26 for 91st.  Rachel Allen did incredibly well in her first JWOC with a time if 86 05 for 89th.  So we ended up with 5 girls between 88th and 98th separated by 4 minutes.  I think this is the first time for a while that the whole team has been in the top 100. Simona Aebresol looked so full of running as she finished in 56 03 for a three minute winning margin.  The Finn behind her was a further 3 minutes ahead of another swiss Sophie Backmann in third.

So that left Joseph “emerging star” Dickinson and Aston to come.  Joseph started incredibly well and was running just ahead of sprint medallist Tommy “hit man” Hayes. Joe took a quite straight route for the long leg and Tommy was almost level when they hit the tricky controls post the long leg. Joe did his own thing while Tommy missed the same control as Patrick. Another great run from Joe in 81 53 and 56th place.  Meanwhile Oli O did what everyone expected and took the lead but with top Brits, Swedes and French to come it wasn’t a done deal.  He won by 40 seconds in the end from Swede Simon Imark who led early in the race.

Then we picked up Aston and he was clearly running really well.  he took a very straight but green route on the long leg and Swede Simon hector went further south and was gaining on Aston but coming a very different way. They converged as they approached control 14. Could Aston stay with one of the top Swedes?  It turned into a pack of 3.  Safety in numbers and it helped them all along the last 6 controls.  Simon Hector ran into the bronze spot in 66. 07 but Aston’s ability to hang with the top guys helped him run 76.10 for 28th place by far and away the best Aussie and a great run by someone still 17.

It felt like a good day overall. Aston. Joe (again) and Zoe the stand outs but lots of happy and tired Aussies.  In the relay tomorrow I think it will be Joe, Aston and Patrick in one team and Zoe, Tara and Asha but we will have to see. The Swiss girls must be favourites and the Finnish men but anything can happen in relays so we are looking forward to it.

Tonight Sue and I got to stay in an old converted school house and have just enjoyed a traditional Sauna! So we are fired up for the last day tomorrow but the internet speeds here aren’t great

David Jaffe

Roving reporter

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