Deep in the southwest: Long distance championship

The highlight of the German orienteering season, the German (long distance) championship, took place this past weekend in Saarbrücken with competition center on the campus of the University of Saarland. Being at the opposite side of Germany from Dresden, the number of USV TU Dresden runners was somewhat lower than one would expect at a competition of this magnitude. However, we who went were very motivated and well prepared after a full competition season and a year of excellent trainings planned by Cornelia "Conny" Eckardt, our trainings-coordinator in TU. Especially useful were the two specific DM-Lang trainings organized by Sophie and Tomi Kääriäinen in the week leading up to the championship.

The roughly 6 h car ride, with Thomas "Thoto" Rewig behind the wheel, was easier than I had expected. We even almost completely avoided the mandatory west-German traffic jams, although we got some when we headed home on Sunday. The only somewhat questionable decision during the trip was the stop at Thotoís favorite restaurant, McDonalds, for dinner. There was some muttering in the car about that not being the best preparation for a physical demanding race the next day. We arrived fairly late in the evening to the sleeping quarters, convenient located next to the competition center on campus. Upon arrival, some of us went out for a short jog to loosen up our legs after the long car trip.

The weather on the race day was cloudy with light rain most of the time, but still fairly warm, actually kind of good weather for a long race. However, you had to be a bit careful with your map since everything was so wet in the forest. The race took place in a hilly forest, which was mostly very runnable apart from some areas with nasty undergrowth that I felt was somewhat under mapped. What made this area a bit special was the abundance of pits created in the bombings during the war, although they didnít appear to have cause as much problems for the competitors as advertised. The dense road and trail network could be used on many route choices and a high running pace from start to finish was essential to perform well. The elite classes had a good turnout with many good performances, but unfortunately none of us representing TU in the menís class had our best day. Sören Lösch from USV Jena won it and Monika Depta from OLG Siegerland won the womens class. Here, Anna Reinhardt had a solid race and got our best Elite placing this weekend, finishing inside the top-10, not to far away from the 4th position.

As many times before, it was our juniors that were shinning the brightest this weekend. Markus Grätsch, in H18, showed why he was the favorite (some of his normal closest competitors were off racing at JEC in France) and claimed the title as German champion. Ellen Klüser completely demolished D14 to become one of the most outstanding champions of this championship. Patricia "Patschi" Nieke won a bronze medal in a tight D18 class and Roland Klüser was only a few seconds away from the podium with Heinrich Salzmann another 2.40 behind him in 9th place in H16, which likely was the tightest and most competitive class at this championship. TU runners in the senior classes obtained two additional medals, Helmut Conrad won gold in H70 and Ingrid Möser finished third in D55.

On Sunday the highly anticipated Deutschland-Cup was organized at the same competition center. This time, most of the courses winded through the campus with some small detours up on the forested hillsides. The rain stopped in time for the relay to big delight of the spectators who eagerly followed all shifts throughout the relay. The organizer had done a great job with a speaker who continuously followed the relay with help of radio controls and a spectator control in the competition center.

TU fielded a strong 1st team with Florian "Flo" Flechsig, Roland, Patschi, I, and Wieland Kundisch. However, to challenge Post, who won the relay convincingly with impressive performances, all of us would have had to run at the top of our ability. While not quit doing that, all of us had solid performances and Wieland headed out in 2nd place on the last leg. Unfortunately, the lead we gave him to the chasing teams with some of Germanys fastest orienteers were not very large and he had to let 3 teams pass him at the end of the course in this very fast and tight relay. A TU team that did perform beyond anyoneís expectations was our second team. Markus, Anna, and Ellen brought the team to an amazing 3rd place after 3 legs. The national junior team coaches (Thoto and Josef "Pepa" Neumann)followed up with two solid runs, bringing the team into a respectable 7th place, not to far behind the first team and the best second team finish with margin. Also our 3rd and 4th teams ran well, but the 3rd team was unfortunately disqualified after a mispunch.

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