Tiomila in Gällöfsta in Upplands-Bro was a great event, as always. There are people who find things to moan about (such as lack of Finnish speaker?) but I think everything worked out very well and the main thing, courses and terrain, were fantastic! Even the weather couldn't have been better!
It was happy reunion with my club mates in Stockholm (people living in Östermalm don't probably regard Märsta as part of Stockholm but if you've lived in outskirts you've got a bit wider perspective) the day before. We did short model training, had lunch together and went to the arena to put up our club tent. It was a real trial of team spirit but we succeeded. After that we knew that the hardest task was done and it would be piece of cake for us in the forest.
|Getting ready for the big day (Jouni Mähönen)|
I still don't feel too enthusiastic about the first leg (I hate it when it's packed and you can't do your own thing) but after a few attempts last year I had found a confidence how to do it. It was great to see so many familiar faces (Vendula, Karro, Lina, and Signe among others) around me on the start line and we were chatting friendly and making jokes just a few minutes before the start. Atmosphere was more relaxed than I can remember. Karro reminded me about taking my own map in the changeover (she had every right to make jokes about my last year's error at Venla) and I told her to run faster to get there before me. So we were smiling and having a good time but we all knew that after the bang we would be racing hard against each other.
|Start of the relay (Aapo Laiho)|
First glance on the map and I get dejavu from the last year. Again I'm tempted to take my own route choice to the first control and go around the first hill but I settle to go with the others this time. It's easier to see what pace to run and I might even see if someone is trying to make a move early. I know I have the whole 8km to make a move if I want to, so I chose to take an easy start. I just go along and pick my own controls. I have a longer forking on control 4 and have to bend to the hill on the left side while many others continue straight towards control 5. It appears that our forking is a minute slower than those who went straight. On the way to control 8 I try to make a route choice for the long leg from 8 to 9 and decide to go right (less climbing and pretty straight forward). It's over half a way now and time to start running. Vendula seems to have exactly the same plan and we rush towards the meadow together. The leg goes well and we are able to keep a good pace there but just when approaching the control after the knoll on the edge of the circle I spot a huge boulder ahead and run to it. The shock is huge when there's no flag but then I figure out that it has to be the smaller boulder just northwest from the actual control site. It wasn't a big mistake, a half a minute max, but big enough for the other teams to catch me and for Vendula to get a small gap to the rest of us. A bad route choice to 11 doesn't help much in attempt to catch Halden. I punch the last control three times just to be sure to get it right and lose a few places there but manage to send Anni out on the 9th place, less than half a minute behind Halden. It couldn't have gone much better.
Anni did a superb job on the second leg and came in the lead, just like we had calculated. Still, even if the scenario was exactly what we had hoped for, we were really nervous during the 3rd leg. Tytti, who ran the 3rd leg, is just a first year senior who has joined us this year and it was her FIRST EVER Tiomila and we just put her out there in the lead. Just imagining being there in her position broke my nerves and put my stomach upside-down. I have seldom been so nervous during a relay leg or so touched by seeing a teammate coming to the last control. I was all in tears (out of happiness) when Tytti calmly did her thing and brought us in 3rd, just a minute behind Lidingö. At that moment I felt we had already won the relay. Of course there was still two legs to go but with Saila and Venla we knew there were no worries. Unfortunately the 4th leg didn't go quite as well as it could have but nonetheless we fought well and finished 5th in a tight relay with 6 best teams within just 4 minutes. Domnarvet girls did solid performances throughout the relay and got a deserved victory.
|5th best team in the world (Jarno Salmelin)|