A story by Thierry Gueorgiou.
Photos courtesy by Jean Paul Hosotte, Jon Rockeffeler & 10Mila organisation.
"The 64th annual Tiomila race proved to be unique for several reasons.
Normally the race is held just outside Stockholm, but this year the event took place in the southern part of Sweden in the Skåne region, not far from the town of Perstorp (75 km north of Malmö). The terrain was a little unusual as well: relatively flat, lots of linear landmarks (low walls, paths and trails) and wetlands. In addition, the start time was moved forward to 9:30pm (previous races started at 10 or 11pm), which meant that 9 of the ten legs would be navigated à la headlamp.
The first legs thinned out the competitors, with this year's favorites, the Norwegian Sk (placed 2nd last year) and the Finnish Rajamäen Rykmentti (finished 4th last year) teams, falling behind. The tricky terrain didn't forgive navigational errors (the lack of vertical relief made it hard to get back on track at night).
By the 4th leg, aka the "lang nätt" (meaning "long night" because at 18km, it's the longest leg of the race), a dozen teams were grouped in the lead: it was clear that one of these teams would be this year's champion.
The 6th or 7th legs saw the teams bringing out their heavy nightrunning guns. Two teams broke ahead: the Swedes of Göteborg and last year's winners, the Norwegian Kristiansand team.
Nothing much changed over the next two short legs (30 minutes each). The competition was between the Swiss Daniel Hubmann (Kristiansand) and the Finnish Mats Haldin (Göteborg). Unfortunately for the spectators, the dual was short-lived when the Finnish racer lost his rhythm and fell back. At that moment it was clear that Kristiansand had accomplished a rare feat by holding on to its title for another year.
I was running for the Finnish club Kalevan Rasti (from the town of Joensuu – 500 km to the north of Helsinki) on the anchor leg. I started in 6th place, 6'46" behind the leader. My strategy was simple: put the pedal to the metal and overtake as many teams as possible. So I tried to take a little more risk than usual by going as straight as possible between checkpoints.
My strategy quickly paid dividends when I passed two teams. I continued this tactic until I reached the spectator stands (three-fourths into the 16.5 km leg), trying to tire out the runners near me and I was thus able to pass two more teams. At this point there were 5 teams vying for 2nd place, including ours.
Two kilometers from the finish line, knowing that there was no chance for me to catch up the Swiss Hubmann in first place, I changed my strategy to make sure I placed second. I slowed down a bit so that I was slightly behind the other racers to get ready for the next itineraries. It's at times like this, when speed and tension are at a maximum, that it's key to keep the head clear and take advantage of every opportunity. I knew the strengths of all the other racers in my leg. I knew that they were all strong finishers in the final 200 meters and even if I'm just as fast, it would be better to go ahead and start my attack.
When I saw the other racers hesitate slightly as they approached the 32nd checkpoint, about 1.5 km from the finish line, I decided to attack. I knew that had to go all out to discourage them. I decided to attack at this moment because the next checkpoints are relatively simple technically-speaking, which meant that I wouldn't need to slow down when approaching them.
I didn't look back again until the last checkpoint, concentrating on summoning the last of my energy reserves. Seeing the happiness in the faces of my teammates on the home stretch, I knew I could enjoy the final meters of the race to cinch 2nd place.
Congratulations to the entire Kristiansand team. They raced extremely well. They brilliantly took advantage of each leg, pulling ahead little by little. By the end they had accrued a difficult-to-beat lead.
This year's race will be fondly remembered as uncommon type of orientation competition for Sweden. Without a doubt, the night legs were very decisive, even if racers equipped with Petzl ULTRAs probably found it a bit easier than others..."
A story by Thierry Gueorgiou.
The final sprint. Photo courtesy of 10Mila organisation
TO GO FURTHER :
- The official website of 10MILA night orienteering race
- The webiste of Thierry Gueorgiou
- The 10MILA video (2008 edition)
- The Simone Niggli' blog
- All the gear for night orienteering and trail running.