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maandag, augustus 10, 2009

Euromeeting: Belgian team lives up to the expectations

Belgian Euromeeting results were top-notch with a 15th and 11th place in the relay competition for men and women. Individual results saw Joost Talloen as the best male runner, taking a 36th and 35th place in the Middle and Long competition. In the women's class Kim Geypen became 24th in the middle distance and Miek Fabré finished 29th after the long distance.

Before an international event, it is common to review the start list and check the competition, in order to set realistic goals. A glance at the line-up showed exactly zero chance for us to be faster than someone else. Our only hope was that there would be a weaker Czech or Italian runner. Alas, a weak Czech runner is an oxymoron and to beat an Italian runner in the most un-Flemish terrain possible was just another dream.

According to the organisers, the middle distance map had a dense path network. Our idea of a dense path network is slightly different. We do have the same idea of a rough terrain though. Which is not surprising, when the only stones in our home forests are bricks placed in the forest by the mapper because there was no other object to be found within 100m. In orienteering terms, this type of course is known as a "tough and demanding race".

The Belgian team was one of the only teams to run the complete Swiss O-Week. Our view of orienteering was slightly skewed by the previous wonderful races in the open Alpine terrains. They turned out to be not particularly good as a model event and the middle distance was a disaster waiting to happen. Only Kim Geypen and Joost Talloen were more or less OK with their performances. The only good point was not clear at the time, but when we finished our races, we had seen most of the forest and knew every control in the area!

Trivia: the euromeeting teams were among the first to arrive at the competition zone. There were two tents. Norway took the one closest to the the event tents, Team Belgium the other one, 50m further into the field. Which one do you think the organisers took away?

The long distance would take place in the Alpine terrain we were hoping for, but the risk of land slides was too high and it was decided that the same map as the middle distance would be used for the long distance. We all know extrapolations are dangerous, but that does not stop them from being made. To give a more concrete example: we ran 80 minutes on a 4 km course, with a winning time of 40 minutes. Given a projected winner time of 70 minutes for a long distance, that would lead to a time of 2,5 hours, give or take a few minutes because of the longer distance. But how wrong we were! Using the middle distance as the model event paid off and we collectively reduced the amount of mistakes to a more or less acceptable level. This improvement was only in our minds, you can not see it in the results.

The relay was run on the map of Seelisberg. Dries van der Kleij started in team 1. He did a rather good race, but I, as a second runner, could only lose one place, which I did in style (why make many small mistakes when you can make one big one?) and there was nothing left for Joost to run fast for.