After his demonstration yesterday during the last WRE of the year it was clear that whoever managed to beat Yannick Michiels would be close to the victory in the technical terrains of Hechtelse Duinen today.
Pieter Hendrickx was running faster than Michiels yesterday, but made mistakes. He was the first runner in the forest today. And fast he was indeed. But running fast isn't of much use when you have problems finding the controls. Hendrickx made a few smaller mistakes during the first few very technical controls and used his running speed during the next minutes of the course in easier, yet still tricky terrain that followed. He kept his pace until the very last part of the course, decisively losing time at controls 24 and 26.
With Hendrickx out of the forest, but still in the running for a top result, it was interesting to see the competition unfold. The 5-day ranking is yet to be decided. Tomas Hendrickx was the second runner to start. The winner of stage 1 managed a decent race, but could not match the pace of his brother. "K-O by Pieter", was the only thing he would comment after his race, before heading of to the hospital for a check-up, "but I'm running to win again tomorrow."
Next up were hamok teammates Thomas van der Kleij and your reporter. Van der Kleij, with 2 second places right where he belongs overall, but with just one month of training after many injury problems, it's tough to compete 5 days at the same level. He couldn't keep the pace as high as he wanted and also lost some time during the last few controls. Your reported fared slightly better, starting of safely, missing only control 3 during the start. The technically easier part proved more difficult with especially a big mistake at control 14. The pace during the last part was not good enough to reach Hendrickx' time, but only one person did better during that last part.
That person was of course Michiels. Michiels lost time early on, but stayed cool and corrected with his impressive running speed. Very secure and very fast orienteering during the last controls earned him a huge victory, in the end finishing 2 minutes in front of Hendrickx and 4 minutes in front of the number 3, your reporter.
Secure orienteering can lead to a top result, as demonstrated by Desmond Franssen in position 4. Keeping the pace slightly slower than his usual speed he evaded major time loss, only at the very end losing some. He gained confidence today and is still a contender for the top spots overall. One can conclude the same about Ken Peeters, but due to different reasons. He found back his good speed, but mistakes during the last controls, like many other runners, prevented a podium spot. "I'm really baffled by Michiels' pace. It's frustrating.", said Peeters, "But I'm really happy he's running Karrim'HOC with Genar and not with Hendrickx." Genar was once again disappointed. After his own demonstration during the WC event in Gielsbos barely two weeks ago, he was hoping for top shape right now: "But I will be checking controls tomorrow in a special course, made solely for me, with many controls along the route. Excellent training."
Tomorrow, Boshoverheide is made for Michiels. Very fast running, but still enough difficulties on the open and sandy grounds near Weert (NL) to make for an interesting race. We have also high hopes for Alexander Lubina, the German Arrow has suffered from a calf injury the last months, but spent his army time nearby and was hoping for a good result.
Emily Kemp (CAN) in action at Hechtelse Duinen
The women's race was once again where the fighting for the top spots was at its best. The first four finished within 1:28, with Canadian Emily Kemp on top and yesterday's winner Miek Fabré in fourth. She is quitting the competition today, for reasons not yet clearly understood, but mostly thought of as holiday laziness.
That leaves the road wide open for Greet Oeyen to challenge Kemp. She was just 52 seconds behind today, making virtually no mistakes. Her preparation for tomorrow is ideal: "I will come home, jump into my couch and watch Cyclo-Cross, waking just in time to see the finish." That of course, is the same as every self-respecting Flemish runner will do and a recipe proven in time.
Today's number 3, Swiss Julia Gross is not on the starting lists for the next days. In places 5 and 6, we did find podium candidates. Czech stage one winner Gomzyk-Omová will try to hold off German Esther Doetsch during the last two stages and maybe even challenge Oeyen and Kemp again.ResultsSplits
Map H21 (Desmond Franssen
, Yannick Michiels A