The last few days have been quite busy, so I'll summarize the end of WUOC with a single post.
The sprint was the day after the long. The first few controls of the courses were in the zoo that had a lot of out-of-bounds. We weren't able to appreciate any of the animals as we ran by them, but it seems like a nice place to go back and visit at a leisurely pace. There was then one long leg with the biggest route choice of the race. It seems that the southern route that cuts out of the zoo and then runs along the road for a while instead of going through the forest to get out of the zoo was the faster choice. After that, there were some controls in the city which involved small route choice decisions (left or right around the block) plus a slog up a long hill near the end to finish off the course. Although the courses were both shorter than the sprint relay (2 km for the women, 2.5 km for the men), the climb and lack of being able to go straight put the winning times in the right range. The best American woman's result was Tori, who ended in 36th place, 3:18 behind the winner. For the men, Charlie was the fastest, coming in 89th, 5:35 behind the winner.
The following day was the middle, where Giacomo made his first appearance of the competition. Despite having to cope with his injured leg, he had the fastest time for the American men, coming in 84th, 13:04 behind the leader. He was happy to be able to get out in the woods again, but is looking forward to two years from now when he'll be able to compete uninjured. Alison was the top American woman, coming in 53rd. She was unhappy with some of her race, feeling like she was a bit out of control at times. She still managed to be only 30% behind the winner, pretty consistent with her results from the sprint and long. The middle terrain was difficult because it was almost completely flat (there was less than half the amount of climb as the sprint) so vegetation boundaries as well as a series of wet ditches systems with lots of potential for parallel errors were the main features to use to navigate. This course was a mix of open woods with dense green sections. The best routes were typically straight - take a compass bearing and head there. This also meant that most runners had very fast time/km. It was cool to see the top athletes running so fast through the woods. We enjoyed how easy it was to run through part of the forest because it was open and well-kept, even though there parts of the race where it was quite difficult to hit the controls perfectly inside the circle.
The relay was held in the same location as the middle. For the women, Tori led off and stuck with one of the front packs until control 11 where they got away from her on a long leg. She then made a small parallel error but was able to come back with a strong finish. Alison followed with another strong run, and McKenzie anchored the team into a 20th place finish. All three runners had faster runs than the previous day for a similar distance. On the men's side, the team of Charlie followed by Giacomo followed by Hans ended in 25th. Charlie was 10 minutes faster than the previous day with a course only 0.1 km shorter. The other two were both faster than they were in the middle as well. Jake and Ken were also able to compete running the first two legs of a second American team. Although he made a few mistakes, Jake felt like he got into a good flow for many parts of his race.
WUOC 2014 is now over, and we're all home or on the way. We really enjoyed the atmosphere at the meet, specifically the fact that all the athletes were staying and eating in the same spot, which really helped us get to know some of the other teams better. We also enjoyed the races, and the variety of different terrain types made each race interesting and challenged us in new ways. We all gained valuable racing experience which will help us in the future. See you in 2 years!