JWOC Sprint – David’s Blog

With journo David Jaffe at JWOC

Day 2 as we saw it.

The sprint started from 2 pm right in the heart of the old part of Kesckemet. It’s a lovely old down centre with buildings dating from the last four centuries, gardens, old shopping arcades with narrow alley ways but it also surrounded by some “cheek by jowl” older suburbs with narrow streets and blocks of irregular shapes. A sprint course setters’ dream. Somehow the organizer arranged for some streets to be closed and they taped off so many flower beds that the tape industry must be in boom times.  It was a great sprint course with so many varied urban environments, little traps, lots of route choice and cafes and ice cream bars to sit at and watch.  A huge score board, a run through, five radio controls and about 27degrees all afternoon. We spectators were allowed to wander all over the course and there were bikes and pedestrians to dodge.

There was a great atmosphere at the finish.  The Swiss, Swedes, Brits and Aussies making the most noise. The main arena had a great run through about half way and the commentators got excited when a Hungarian looked competitive and for each “new best time”.  The run through passage started under the town hall portico and there was a wonderful moment at 3 pm when all the bells in the town were going off as runners were coming through.   At this level every two seconds, roughly costs the guys a place and its roughly three seconds a place in the girls.

Alistair went off early and looked clean and controlled and ended up with the much sought after 100th place (out of 170). Rachel looked relaxed but perhaps a little sedate and clearly had a few problems. In contrast Caroline P looked fast and was very pleased with 53rd, her best yet at JWOC. Poor Joe D has had a virus for two months but he had a go but was running on no training but at least he had a go. 15 year old Zoe M looked very focused and zoomed around. She ended up best of the girls in 48th and beat her sister Tara who made an early mistake and came in 50th.  Four seconds means a lot when your little sister pips you. Zoe D had the dreaded MP by missing a control.

Meanwhile on the men’s course we heard ex coaches in residence Will and Pete (Bray) screaming at Matt Fellbaum.  They thought he was only their 4th best runner but he was on a flyer. He looked awesome in the last five controls and they screamed that he was close to the lead. He pulled out all the stops and flew in with a “new best time”.  His brother couldn’t believe it and the Brits were getting very excited.  At around the same time, our debutant Angus H was having a pretty good first up run.  Angus is a sprinter and came in 56th which was very respectable. Yeterday’s winner Fosse took the lead only to mess up.  Matthew Perrin of France did the same and Swede Isaac Van Kreusenstirna looked amazing.  He had a 30 second lead and looked unbeatable.  But the eagle eyed Brits has spotted that punching control 25 instead of 15 might be an issue.  The commentary team called him in the winner but he was a miss punch.

Pat Miller looked very steady on his run.  In his first year he was a very respectable 75th. Aston had set himself for this race and skipped the longest long of yesterday.  He wasn’t happy with his start. His account was that he overran 1, went to 4 before 3 ( they were very close) and only then got going.  By the second radio he was in third and leading Fellbaum. That was still the case at the run through and Warren and Tash were getting very excited.  He looked great but they said they could see him tiring later in the course.  His eventual 9th place was a very good run for someone who still has two years at this level. He felt his early mistakes cost him 15 seconds but it all counts at this level.

Asha also started well and was in the top 30 at early radios. She wasn’t sure why she lost time later but slipped to 69th.  She has been sick on and off for the last two weeks so that seems to have taken the edge of her running. She told me she was looking forward to the complexity of the middle. Now talking of sick, we’d left Patrick the night before unable to eat or drink and looking whiter than a polar bear in a snowstorm.  By the morning he texted us to say he felt OK and pretty normal but we had low expectations.  By the second radio he was showing in 13th place so we started getting excited.  He lost a few seconds on the last loop of controls and finished 30th, his best JWOC sprint by about 50 places. He recognised that given his state of the previous night, that was OK.

Meanwhile at the pointy end, a Finn was one second down on Fellbaum and the last Hungarian slipped away. But the German Kolbe was one of the last few starters and had a great run to lead from the third radio and win by 8 seconds.  The raining champ Susan Abersol backed up from the five-minute win in the long to win by over thirty seconds.  She just flows over the ground.

It was a very exciting day.  The Brits got a very unexpected medal and the Aussie team had a good day. Three girls in the top 60 was much better than last year. Angus and Pat M were happy with their first JWOC sprints, Patrick made the top 30 and Aston got us a very rare top 10 place.  Only Henry M has done that in recent years.

A rest day tomorrow and then the excitement of the middle qualification races.

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