The first major championships in 2014 were the held south of Lisbon in Portugal. My training during winter has been really good so I felt physically well prepared for EOC and the goal was to qualify for at least one A final. I got the opportunity to run all distances which means 7 competitions in 7 days if I’d qualify for the finals. In other words a tough schedule.
The week started off with the Middle qualification race in sand dunes terrain at the Atlantic coastline. In the beginning of the race I was a bit confused as a runner from a different heat had the same first and second control. It’s one of my favourite terrain types and I was satisfied with the effort – not losing more than 1 minute overall – my best Middle competition for the season.
Next day, Long qualification. The Model Event promised some dark green vegetation between open areas. Usually I’m not fussy when it comes to cross dark green areas but at the Long Q they were uncrossable. I tried to avoid passing thickets but to the 4th control it was too tempting and I tried to cross it and got stuck. Eventually I found a way through the last part crawling. After this time loss I was stressed and missed at least 5 minutes on the rest of the course. It felt like my longest long distance race ever even though I finished after 75 minutes.
At the Sprint qualification my performance was a lot better and just 11 seconds were missing for a spot in the A final. I lost about 40″ in total.
Lesson learnt from the qualification races is that I’m now close to the cut and able to qualify for the final in all disciplines.
As everyone knows the EOC organizers had a lot of problems during the week. You can read more about it on Matthias Kyburz website, I fully agree with him.
One control was at the wrong place in the middle qualification, the race voided and all athletes were allowed to run the Middle final. Of course I wanted to perform on a high level and my tactics were to go all-in and run on the limit from the starting point. The first 2 controls were good but then I lost 30″ each on the next 3 controls and that’s a bit too much in an easy terrain if you want to get a top 40 position. The rest went okay and I became 82nd in my first EOC final.
We had two strong teams at the relay and I went out on the second leg (2nd team) not too far behind. It was a fun course and I managed to finish the week with a good performance.
Main focus this year is to qualify for the World Championships and I feel that I am well on the road to Italy. Our team selection races are in the end of May and they will be decisive.