JWOC Day Five – Relays

The map for day five was close to the Long area used on day 1.  It was 60-70% open with wind-blown sand dune shapes dotted with small parts of woodland and some green bits of juniper that stood out in the open landscape. It was predicted to be 4.5m/K stuff for the boys or very fast.   It was the hottest day with temperatures between 28-30 degrees.  Prior to the relay, the JWOC tour had a mass start race on the adjacent terrain and it sure was quick. I’d rate it the easiest navigation of the week.

For the relay, the first and second legs were of equal length but leg 3 was further for both courses.  There was a run through and great spectator control and a 1k loop after the run through. The girls had 5.6k or 6.2 for leg 3 and the guys had 7.1 and 8.1 for last leg.

As a spectator it was a well-planned arena and the commentary kept up well with the 5 radio controls.   There was a sand dune we could climb on to see  the spectator and control before it. The girls went off first and the boys started just as the girls leg 3 reached its climax. The girls went Tara, Zoe D and Asha in team 1 and Zoe M, Rachel and Caroline in team two. This had the Melhuish sisters went head to head on leg 1.  The boys went Aston, Pat M and Pat J in team 1, with Angus, Joe and Alistair.

The mass start is always great to watch and Tara flew out of the blocks.  She told me she had a careful run  but said the pace was hot. She came back 31st but within four minutes of the leaders. Zoe M was 40th with a great first up relay effort.  Zoe Dowling built on Tara’s effort and lifted the team seven places with a time only a couple of minutes behind Tara’s. Rachel lifted her team three places so another good run.  This set up Asha for her last JWOC run and she had a great leg.  She lifted the team seven more places and she was 18th on her leg which was her best run of the week.  That put the girls as 17th finishers and 15th country, one better than last year. Caroline lifted the second team another seven places to a very respectable 30th .  No less than 9 teams mis-punched including the kiwis who picked up the wrong map and these were some big scalps including Hungary 1, Finland 1 and Sweden 1 who were leading at the time.

The front of the race was dramatic. France led leg 1 with a Danish team and amazingly Turkey came back 3rd .  The Swedes pulled away to lead the Russians after leg two with Switzerland looking favourites in third with Simona A on last leg. On last leg, first the Swedes mis-punched and then Simona took the lead for Switzerland with Russia slipping to fourth. Then Simona lost a minute at one control and 90 seconds at the next and the Russians re-took the lead as Norway also made a mistake.  Russian Veronika Kalinina held her nerve but the run of the day came from Teresa Janosikova who made up 13 places from 15th to second on the last leg by running it 2.5 minutes faster than anyone else. An inspired run for Silver and Norway hung on for bronze with the Brits a great fourth place.

The boys had started and it seemed like Aston had started well, up there with first the leading pack and then later running with a second pack. He was sat tracked but Angus wasn’t so we were delighted to hear Angus called out in the top ten. Angus went through the run through in 10th place and flying. He kept it up and handed over to Joe D in 10th .  That was by far his best run of the week and showed his running ability. Aston made a one minute mistake part way round and came in 31st .  Joe Dickinson had been running on almost no training but ran mistake free to hand to Alistair George but in 22nd place.  That team was well clear of the other. Pat M told me he had just lost touch slightly at the end of the first long leg and unfortunately he fell to 44th  before he handed over to Patrick.  Alistair George also had problems with the first control but brought the second team home in 31st.  We still beat NZ as they mis-punched.

Patrick J had had a long wait and went out 44th and 20 minutes down. It was his last JWOC run and he pulled the team up 7 places and only Angus had a better position on their leg.  He gained ten minutes on Alistair George and looked very strong at the finish and even had a fastest split. Many teams had surprises from their second teams.  GB2 were well ahead of GB1 until the last leg.  Sweden 2 were second after leg two with the younger Svensk brother beating his gold medal winning sibling. Switzerland 2 were in third after leg 2 and also led their first team.  Many teams clearly weren’t sure of their best combinations and had surprises on the day.

At the head of the field, the French led early only to fall away to sixth. Norway took the lead on leg 2 and Kasper Fosser ran the fastest long leg to bring them home well clear. Sweden 1 were 12th on leg 1 and Simon Imark pulled then to 6th .  Isaac Von Kreusenstierna pulled out his best run of the week to take them into second. Vandas of the Czech republic hung onto third for their second medal of the day. Five teams were within a minute battling for the podium with Finland, Poland and France just pipping a fast finishing GB.

In summary, it was a fascinating and quite successful week. The girls relay team ran very well today with Asha running a great anchor. Tara had the best “long” by an Aussie girl for some years and then ran a great B final in the middle.  Angus showed huge potential in the relay today and Joe D showed great courage coming off very limited training.  The younger team members all had good first up JWOCs and we have much to look forward to in coming years. Patrick had his best long distance race, a top 30 sprint and then a gutsy anchor today. Aston’s 9th in the sprint was spectacular and his middle qualification was another great run.

It feels like the end of an era for me after four years of this but it’s been a lot of fun and a roller coaster of emotions. A number of this team are running in World Uni games and Aston and Tash head for WOC with Brodie and Krystal so there is much to watch in coming weeks! Talking of Brodie and Krystal, they have done a great job as coach and manager so a big thanks to them both.

Thanks for all your supportive messages. See you back in Aus!

David Jaffe
Retiring travelling journo

"The Jaffe clan". Thank you to David for his great JWOC blogs and Sue for the accompanying photos.

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