For the first time, I was first, and, above all, in course 1. With temperatures of 32 °C, knocking out half of the runners, and quite a dense forest, it wasn’t easy either. Half of the time, I couldn’t see the woods through the forest (“door de bomen het bos niet meer zien”, in Dutch), and not only because of my frosted cornea, due to the damp atmosphere.
I guess I am good when it gets tough. Since it was not because I made less mistakes. In fact, when I finished, I was quite dissatisfied with my result (which I could not yet compare with the others’). Quite a few controls, I ran together with Albert Jan Kuiper, while he nor me could shake the other off. And he spotted some controls before I did, so my first impression was that I had not ran my own race. Until he decided it was too heavy, and dropped back.
On the other hand, I did not make big mistakes. The course I took between the controls was almost the same I would choose now, but most problems occurred while searching for the flag itself. To some extend, I had expected this already, since I know that baanlegger Peter is a master in using the terrain to disguise the controls. But the difficult aspect is his eye for elevation contours, that is somewhat different than mine. Often, on the map, it is clear what should be the attack point, but at the location itself, I just don’t recognize all of the elevation features, especially right in the middle of the forest. And, which is typical for this season, open spots between the trees, may not be recognizable at all.
But then, after a few controls of learning, I should be wiser, and know that I should take less risks, choose safer approaches, and orienteer by the book. Clearly, the breath of the competition down my neck makes quite a difference on the rationality of my route-planning cortex. Or my risk-estimating sub-consciousness.
Nevertheless, who can complain when he becomes first? Not me. I am happy and content after all!