A somewhat average start to the Oslo World Champs with the 30km pursuit. The start pace wasn’t too furious however I got caught up slightly on the first climb with the concertina effect. This happens in every mass start and I was ready for it, leaving a small gap in front, however one of the skiers ahead in my track crashed and stopped dead, so I was forced out of the track for the first climb which wastes quite a lot of energy. I then settled into what I thought was a quite comfortable pace up the major climb, however found myself rather fatigued at the top of the course. This was the start of about 15min of absolute hell! My skis weren’t great on the downhill so straight away I dropped off the back of Simbo, then as soon as the climbing began again, I would have been more comfortable stuck in an electric fence! My legs felt lactic, my technique fell to pieces and my stomach felt as though it was tied in a knot. Ewan then caught me halfway up the climb which was quite a relief in the end as I was able to just tuck in behind and try and relax a little. I then had a bit of a chuck and cough on the downhill and gradually began to feel better again for the 3rd and final classic 5km loop.
Feeling a lot better, Ewan and I then changed over together and started the skating leg. Immediately I felt dramatically more energetic on the skate skis and decided to put the hammer down in a desperate attempt to try and make up for lost time as I knew it would be a struggle to not get lapped. I pulled away from Ewan and was quickly catching Nils Koons from NZ who was more than 40sec up after the classic leg. Unfortunately, just like last World Champs in Liberec 2009, the lapping rule destroyed the only good part of my race! With about 1km to go on the 2nd skate lap my efforts payed off and I managed to catch and pass Koons. After putting more time into him before the lap, we were then both pulled however this was 10m before the lap checkpoint meaning that he was given the higher placing despite being 20-30m behind me! To add to the frustration even further, I would have made the next lap according to the splits. In the first 7.5km of the skating leg, I only lost 1min 40s to the lead pack, and when I was pulled out, with only 3.75km to make it through, I was still 1min 15s ahead of the pack. So i’ll let you do the maths. This is incredibly frustrating as all the hard work that I put into catching Koons and attempting to finish the race was all for nothing according to the results, so I’m going to claim 67th place irrespective (instead of their 68th and lapped) which I suppose isn’t too bad considering I was ranked 69th. It was quite a shock to find that I still had heaps of energy at the end of the race! If I didn’t have those problems on the second lap I think it could have really been a good result. I’m still not too sure what caused these problems, however its most likely the electrolyte drink not sitting well on the first two laps combined with going out a little too hard. I missed my third drink (as it was taken /stolen by the Ukrainian skier who we were also skiing with!) but this could have been a good outcome because it seemed to settle things down quite a lot. I think I will consider another drinking option for the 50km Freestyle next Sunday.
Ben had a decent race up in 62nd and probably the most impressive result of the Australians was Ewan who was ranked 75th and placed 69th. Nick Grimmer also experienced no luck at all with the lapping rule and controversially was pulled at the end of the classic leg, however still achieved a respectable result in 75th. As I have mentioned in an earlier post, the crowds here have been incredible and today was certainly no exception. This is the first event I have ever competed in where the crowds have been at least 3 or 4 rows deep lining almost the entire course. The stadium is another thing all together with all the grandstands completely packed! This all creates an atmosphere which is very rarely experienced by any athlete.
Next up is the 15km Classic which should be much better for me as I can pace it myself and the officials aren’t given the power to ruin people’s races by imposing unreasonable lapping rules. From last weekend’s result and today’s skate leg, I am confident I have decent form and I am therefore hoping I can produce a good result.