Saturday, October 6, 2018

NAOC on home turf

When I heard that NAOC was going to be in Whitehorse, I was ecstatic! I was super excited to show everyone my home terrain and what Whitehorse has to offer. As it got closer to the day I got more nervous by how many people signed up - where are they all going to stay!? Turns out we can accommodate over 570 athletes.

Okay enough about logistics, let’s talk racing!  The first race on the agenda was the Long. I am pretty darn happy that was the first race, as doing a long 2-3 races in is very gruelling. I made a few bobbles right off the bat but figured it out after that, for a while. I always tell myself take the first 2 controls slow, get used to the terrain, but sadly I don’t always listen to my advice.  To make up for my first two mistakes I made sure to take the next control (the long leg) very easy, safe and smart. Everything went to plan! I had a route, attackpoint and a catching feature.

Thanks to Jim Hawkins for catching a finish smile!

The rest of the race went okay, mistake here, overshot there, but otherwise steady. Then I got to 17! I still mentally kick myself for that control, ahhhh! I navigated 13-16 without a hitch but I didn’t have a strong attackpoint and I started to second-guess myself. I relocated twice and both times I found the men’s elite control. When I was bailing for the 3rd time I finally figured out where I was and found it.

After a not great start to NAOC and my cold getting worse, I changed my strategy for the middle, slow and steady - because you can’t physically push. I messed up 1 again but the rest of the race was a lot smoother. For the first 5 controls I was running with Emily Ross, but we took different routes to 6 and didn’t cross paths again. I caught up with two other women for a while around 13 and ran with them to 14. Coming out of 14 I knew my route and the ladies were a little in front of me (hard to push up a mossy hill when you are coughing up a lung)! When I finally got up the hill I was super confused because I should have seen them but they were nowhere to be found. This made me second-guess my self and my route but I kept going and double-checking everything. The rest of the race was good and slow.

The National teams lined up for the mass start
The 3rd race of NAOC was the team relay, I was feeling really sick but I still wanted to race. The map used was the local Biathlon range and trails; this is a special map because of all the animal statues out in the forest and lots of trails. My team was Kendra Murray, Tori Owen and myself. Ken was first, me second and Tori was last. To make things more interesting the club relay was running at the same time so you had people running everywhere. I ran a pretty clean race just couldn’t push it. USA 1 was 1st place, Emma, Pia and Emily were 2nd and we came 3rd.

Tori finishing strong during the relay
The final race was the sprint in the lovely town of Carcross, I hope everyone enjoyed the mayhem in Caribou commons because I did! This was an interesting sprint because it started in the forest, then went urban and finished in the forest again. We had fun obstacles of tourist, dogs and railway crossings.

I had a lot of fun racing in my hometown and really appreciate all the long hours that everyone put in to make it happen!

-Jennifer MacKeigan

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