I travelled out on Tuesday to the region south of Paimio in southern Finland for a few days training and racing before this years Jukola. Staying with my club Tyrving, we were based in a beautiful wooden cabin close to the seafront.
Plenty of messing around, some rowing, some fishing, even a little bit of orienteering.
Thursday evening was the Forssa Games which is quite a prestigious race close to the town of Forssa north of Helsinki. Possibly the biggest mid week evening race I have ever been to, definitely with the best field. The concept is simple. 180 men and 120ish women run elite, which is a short race with a winning time 20-25 mins. I had a pretty good run, despite having almost the last start at about 8.30 in the evening, and finished equal 14th 1min40 down on the winner Tero Fohr.
I started very quickly and ran strongly to number 1. I came out of the control slightly wrong though and took a really bad line to number 2, losing about a minute to the leaders. I recovered well though and was getting good splits all the way round. The only other controls that I lost time on were 7 and 10, the two legs where perhaps I should have avoided the brashings and the marshy area and sought out more runnable forrest.
A very good performance for me, getting good splits and beating some top names. After a few weeks of illness and family things it was a good feeling to have a good race in such a top competition.
Results here (not sure what happened to my splits or why nobody ever spells my name right)
The biggest competition in the world. Mens relay run at night with 1300 teams (7 per team) and womens relay with 800 teams (of 4). I ran last leg for Tyrving (our top runner Audun had to drop down to a shorter leg ... again), and found it very tough. 14km with 700m climb and endless climbs, crags, marshes, brashings, not to mention pretty tricky orienteering in places. I had a reasonable run, nowhere near my best, but good enough to only lose 1 place to some of the top runners in the world to leave us in 39th place. My best finish in 3 Jukolas, but with the team we have, we know it could be so much better.
I made 2 pretty big mistakes (3 and 4 mins) and a couple of smaller wobbles, and ended up with the 64th best time for the leg, which is not great but then again not bad out of 1300ish.
My race was split into 3 parts really, the first 9 controls I ran alone, doing pretty well with some hesitation at 5 (number 31) and a big mistake at 9 (number 60) which was a result of leaving the previous control in the wrong direction and failing to pick up that error.
Jamie Stevenson caught me on the long track run to number 10 (130), and while taking some different routes, we stayed together almost until the end (although he got away from me over the last km or so). We were doing really well until the tricky green area with lots of controls. To start with the route out of the previous control was bad, Jamie went a different way, and we had different gaffles anyway. I rushed in without a plan and proceeded to lose about 4 mins in the green finding loads of controls but not mine. Eventually relocated looking down at the road.
After that, Jamie caught me again on the way to number 97, along with Andrej Khramov and Mats Troeng. Staying with them was a challenge and after about 2km I couldn't any more and dropped off the back on the way to number 147. The second last control, 129, proved to be possibly the trickiest control of the day, and I almost caught them again. I saw them running out of the control as I was getting close, but I missed it slightly too and ran into the finish alone.
A pretty good run, but still things to learn from it including 14km in Finland in that terrain is TOUGH. I'll be back next year though, 400km north in Lapua.