We are gearing up for our team relay that will take place tomorrow (Friday). Each leg of the race will be about a Middle Distance length, which for the Women's Elite will be a 12k (if you take the optimal route!) with 12-14 controls. The course will be set in an active military area, so parts of the area will have deep, narrow ditches that were once used for tank repair, and some sections will be marked on the map with magenta to signify places where large amounts of old wire are strewn about. This is the first time since the 40's or 50's that this area has been mapped. An old orienteering map used to exist, but they think all copies have been confiscated since then.
The three of us spent a little of last night and some of this morning trying to choose our spots in the relay. We spoke to riders from both Germany and Sweden and found their placement tactics varied from each another. Anke from Germany suggested that the strongest physical rider with fewer orienteering skills might go first so they could follow other riders in the chaos of the mass start. Sweden is planning on having their strongest rider last so as to catch up any time that passed during the other legs. We also just found out from Great Britain that they'll be sending out their strongest rider and orienteer-er (you might remember her from planning out her first five controls at the start line of the Sprint course earlier this week...) first to start them off well ahead of the pack. Sue returned from the Team Leader's meeting tonight saying that the type of relay we'll be doing will basically disallow or confuse you if you follow anyone, so that's off the table anyway. Following anyone can be helpful and also devastating, as I sadly discovered on my twelfth control during the Middle distance race. I'm still getting over that mistake.
We mulled over this a bit and have decided that Rebecca will finish up our relay because she has the strongest orienteering skills and won't have any issues if she's by herself in the middle of the terrain without anyone to fall in behind.
Sue will start us off in the first leg as she feels more comfortable with the wrestling of the map to the map holder and the general excitement and nerves that will be present for the mass start. I'll be holding things together in the middle, and hopefully my sprinter's legs will help us hang with some of the other teams.
Only two days of racing left! I can't believe it's almost over. At this point I can't imagine the bikes without map holders on them, nor a race ending without someone handing me a bottle of sparkling water.