The WOC story pt. 4 – the golden relay

11 10 2019

The last 24 hours before the relay
The evening after the middle was emotional for all of us three in the team, and especially as we all went to the medal ceremony in Sarpsborg. Me, happy to get my silver medal, but tired after the middle disappointment. Tove, happy about her double win, but super tired after those discharging performances. Karro, disappointed of her races so far, and with just one chance left to save her championship.

During the afternoon we decided to stick with plan A about the running order; me at the 1st, Tove at the 2nd and Karro finishing at the 3rd leg. This to get 100 % out of each person’s strength when it comes to relay running. We decided to present a team photo which should show those strengths and let the picture speak for itself. Me and Tove being sharp and precise with our performances and then Karro with the mission to kill it. A bit cocky, but still with sense of humour! 😉 We knew everyone saw us as the main favourites (ourselves among them!). At the same time we knew it will be a tight race as always. 3 times 30 minutes and the margins will be tiny.  But let’s: ”Carpe Fucking Diem”.

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During the morning I was out for a short jog with Gustav, and two of our leaders Göran and Håkan. The rain was already pouring down and I felt my mind was partly everywhere. However, my preparations for the relay has been sharp, so even though pessimistic thoughts passed through my mind (for example about my heavy legs from the day before), I still knew what was needed to be done to do my shit for the team. A team that I wanted to do exactly everything for.

The relay run
The rain kept pouring down during the warm up and when starting. Always special to head up for the starting line, shoulder to shoulder with my competitors representing the other teams. At least 5 of us knowing we have chances of the gold, but all in front of a race where we almost only have stuff to lose. Running the first leg means the mission is to come back in the leading pack, otherwise you have lost time and this will make it harder for your team mates.

So, off we went, splashing over the soaking golf course. People always run fast towards the starting point. I put myself a little bit back in the pack, but we split up early due to forkings, and I was in the lead of my group. I was then more or less first up to the 4th post when Sabine for Switzerland stepped in before me towards the arena. No stress, just hung on to her speed and I felt strong during the arena passing. A long leg was waiting. I noticed we were not so many teams hanging on to our group. As the margins are small in those relays, one can’t be too comfortable in the group. I mean, if I feel strong, I need to push, as each team we lose earlier, the better chances we will have in the end. However, there is a fine margin to do this solid or to take stupid decisions. But, I felt strong. And confident. And determined. A good combination. I tried to keep the speed high on the road towards the hill and Sabine helped pushing hard. Into the forest, up a steep hill I suddenly was alone. “It must be a forking”. Sharp orienteering and I hit mine perfectly. I kept working strongly in the uphill towards the next one. Still all alone. I remember thinking “this is what I’ve been training for” and was thinking both being alone in the lead, but also about the terrain; this part was typical Norwegian forest, and very similar to most of the training areas. From this moment, I knew exactly what to do.

I did sharp orienteering, one control at a time. I knew all the time I was alone in the lead. And to be honest, I thought the gap was bigger already at the first TV control, but when watching the broadcast after the race I realised the gap at that point actually was kind of small and that I partly could have been in sight for the others. This made me nervous by watching it, but lucky I didn’t know it during my run. 😉 I remember one time looking back over my shoulder, it was towards the 9th control, when I was on top of a hill in a very open area. I didn’t see anyone. I can say, it was a good feeling! I chose the right route to the 2nd last control, the last tricky control of this race and my WOC week. I hit it well and then I was running my last meters in the forest for this championship. I took one jump over the ditch to enter the golf course, then looking up to see the very last control and finally I was facing the cheering crowd. It was so cool to do the run in, still all alone, with all people cheering and among them my whole family, knowing I had done exactly what I have been dreaming to do. I pushed hard all the way, knowing every second counts. I pulled the map and handed it over to Tove – the double gold champion during the championship and the best woman orienteer during the past years. Of course I felt confident about that. 🙂  I had time to put my arms in the sky and then face the other runners coming towards the finish. I had given Tove a leading gap of 44 seconds.

The wait after my race
I knew Tove was tired from the previous performances, so I realised quite early during her race that her legs was not with her this day. Switzerland came closer and closer and in the end they were past, but I am so very impressed of Tove who still managed to perform almost perfect orienteering, even though her legs screamed stop. She did everything she could this day, and she did the important stuff to keep close to Switzerland who now was in the lead. We were still in the game, only 6 seconds behind. And even though our dream and plan A was to be alone in the lead from start to finish as we did at the World Cup relay the year before, we also knew we could win when having company on the last leg.

During the first half of the last leg I was not able to watch. I was super nervous. I knew that it soon will be decided and that we soon will have the chance to fulfill our dream. I never doubted Karro on the last leg, but I still have huge respect for our competitors who weren’t chasing that far behind. When our coaches were watching the TV I was too nervous. I went up to the team tent to find Tove. I found her sitting on the floor, with some kind of food in her hand, with empty eyes. At that moment I truly realised how tired she was. But I was so excited of the race, so I tried to wake her up: “We are in the gold fight, they are on their way back!!” Then it got back to her that we actually were running the world championships relay and that we were running for gold. As two excited little girls, we ran down towards the finish area, to follow the last minutes of the race in front of the screen, behind the finish. At that time we realised that the chasing teams behind would not make it to catch Karro or Julia for Switzerland, so now it was only a battle between Sweden and Switzerland for the gold. I know Julia (SUI) is strong in the end, but we had our full trust in Karro to win the final sprint. It was an incredible feeling to stand together with Tove, see Karro jump the same ditch as both me and Tove had jumped earlier during the relay. We knew that now it will happen, now she will use her strength, right according to our plan. It was great to see her increase the speed one time to pass Switzerland and she got the gap directly.  Then the gap increased meter for meter. It was never a battle, Karro outsprinted for gold and I will always remember the moment when she crossed the finish line and we all gather in a group hug, all falling down on the wet ground, feeling WE DID IT.

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WE DID IT. WE DID IT. WE F*CKING DIT IT.
One year. One dream shared by three girls. One dream which was part of almost every day of my preparations. A dream both about how to run my own specific race, but also how the relay would end after a solid team performance. I had dreamt of running alone in the lead, giving my team the perfect start. That I did just that, doing one of my best races ever (so far), when it matters the most, makes me so proud. I am for sure also so proud of my team mates, also doing exactly what they are the best of doing, even though both faced big challenges this day. Thank you Tove and Karro, the best team mates in a relay one could wish for!

Team success
That we later on could celebrate with the complete team, as the boys won the men’s relay, makes the best dream even better. This day was so damn cool, that I almost can’t believe it’s true. Lucky we could celebrate everything during the banquet night which was awesome, but way too short :).

Photos from the relay without a photograper mark: Sven Alexandersson

 


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One response

11 10 2019
Peo Bengtsson

Grsttis Lina!
Imponerande bra författat och orienterat.
Men har Du inte vunnit någon bronsmedalj Du heller?
Jag fortsätter att delta i Veteran-VM för att vinna brons någon gång efter att ha tagit 15 Guld och 4 Silver.
Mvh Peo Bengtsson.

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