One of the ways to win a race is to perform at your best when it’s needed. That’s what I planned for today, and that’s how it worked out.
I don’t have much time for training nowadays, but I know how to use my time effectively and how to prepare for a competition. The last few months have all been focused on this event, on running a bit faster and climbing the hills without flagging. With a 3 minute deficit from day one I planned to give everything, all the way.
I started the 6.9 km course late, and knew the result I needed in order to overtake my good friend Oded Verbin, who beat me yesterday. The course was long distance style, which I like, but also technically demanding. I had a few small misses but nothing really bad, and at control 17 I already knew that I had won. Physically I felt fantastic, and I think I haven’t put so much effort into a race for years, but it paid off – first place in H40 in the Israeli Championships, for the fourth time (out of five attempts), at the age of almost 49.
The updated map of Ben-Shemen forest is quite good, but I didn’t like the drawing – too many black dots, and the contours still have the LIDAR squiggles. There were also a few significant unmarked features, most obviously a large cliff next to control 13.
A quick look at the split times gives me the impression that my competitors started quite fast but slowed down, and my splits get better (comparatively) as the course progresses. That reinforces my belief that my running ability made a difference.
My headcam video from the first day is now online here.
Most of my orienteering is for fun. I usually run H35 because it’s the longest (and therefore most enjoyable) course available, I don’t care about any rankings, and I do my best because the satisfaction of a good run is part of the fun.
But I’ve always loved the thrill and pressure of competition, and in this year’s Israeli Championships I had three choices: H35 (no chance of winning), H45 (probably win easily), or H40 – where there’s stiff competition but I am capable of winning and would be disappointed to miss out on the podium. I decided a long time ago that I would run H40, and that’s what I’ve been training for.
Today was day one – shorter courses than usual (“middle” distance) on a new map of an old area -Tarom / Tel Zor’a. This is actually my third championship here, after 1991 and 2005. The terrain is steep, stony and green, very green, and the running was slow, but the map is very good and the course was technical and challenging. I had a good run physically, but made a few mistakes, notably at control 9 where I lost around 3 minutes, and I finished third in 52:57. I ran with my headcam so there will be a video later on.
The top two are just over 50 minutes, 4th is less than a minute behind me, and 12th place is still less than 10 minutes back, so tomorrow is going to be thrilling. The courses in Ben-Shemen forest are longer, and some of the terrain is apparently just as tough, so anything can happen. I still hope to win, and definitely to stay on the podium.
We’re orienteering as a family almost every weekend now, if the weather is right. A couple of weeks ago we did a course in the sand dunes near the coast (with all four children). The highlight was that Matan (now 2 and 8 months), who has always been in a carrier on my back most of the course, decided after the first control that he wanted to walk by himself, and stayed on his own two feet almost until the end. It was great fun.
Roni and the three smaller children
Then last Saturday there was a national event at Segev. I ran early and then Roni arrived with the kids. The H35 course was long (10.3 km) and tough physically, but much too easy on the orienteering. Despite that, I enjoyed the run and it was a good rehearsal for the next race – the Israeli Championships.
We then did part of the family course, with Matan again choosing to walk by himself, and it was great (even though my legs were knackered from the race and I had to carry him when he tired). The children love the forest and nature, and of course looking for controls, and we don’t feel as if we’re dragging them with us to events because we want to run. This Saturday we’ll do it again…