Long Final – Monte della Luna – 6.6kms; 340m climb; 20 controls.
What a fantastic name for the Long Final venue. And a wonderful arena too at Sanga Longa at more than 2000m in a natural bowl with a small lake, typical alpine scenery, wonderful views and only accessible by chairlift from Cesana.
Having qualified for the A Final I had a reasonably late start, but we were instructed to be at the bottom of the chairlift at least two and a half hours before our start time. It had the makings of another administrative disaster but for us it was fine – though I did hear of some earlier commotion.
I have to say I much preferred this terrain to that of the two qualification races. We actually had more climb overall, but the hills didn’t seem so steep and there was a lot more variety.
Fortunately my first control was relatively easy so I quickly settled into the map and terrain and managed to plan, chose a route and execute it well and at pace through to #5. Not sure if my contour hugging S shaped route to #6 was the best when running on the side of the steeper slope but found the control ok.
I really enjoyed the more stony terrain through #8 to #12 and was able to keep up a very good pace nimbly jumping and skipping through the rocks and still being accurate. I was gaining in confidence and ran as fast as I could on the path towards #13 overtaking a few slower competitors and not stopping at the water point.
It turns out I was 10th overall at this point. Was I becoming over confident perhaps? as I then promptly made errors approaching the next three controls.
Getting close to #14 I saw a pond to my right and thought maybe I had just passed the control so went back to find it between two small hills. In retrospect I realise that what I had seen was a lot of standing water in what is marked as marsh on the map. I had a gut feeling at the time that I hadn’t really gone far enough and should have carried on, but there was also the pull to stop and check if it wasn’t actually the pond. At least 1min lost.
Now ruffled ruffled I didn’t really keep in touch with the map to #15 and before I knew it had hit the path beyond. I thought I recognised the kink in the path with the stone inside and quickly ran diagonally back up the hill but didn’t see the control. Realised I was too high so went back to the path and tried to make out the adjacent clearing as I came back down and ran down its ‘finger’ into the control. Strange that I hadn’t seen it on the way up! Probably 3mins lost there.
Then to #16 I was too low crossing the streams and nothing quite fitted so after some dithering decided to climb up the hill and hit the track to see where I was. Fortunately I saw the very large rock, relocated and made my way carefully down by the stream. At least another 3mins lost!
Slightly disheartened I slogged up the steep slope from #16 to the track and then went fast through the last 4 controls and into the finish arena with no problems.
Despite the errors towards the end I really enjoyed the course and my run and realised what I could do, and how fast I could actually go, if I kept it all together. I finished 34th overall which is actually my best WMOC Long Final result out of the four I have done so far – but I knew how much better it could quite easily have been.