Portugal was mostly sunny, mostly dry, usually cool or cold and mostly successful for the small GO band who traveled this year for the annual POM meeting. The POM increases every year in popularity as an early season, warm-weather (sometimes) opener. 1664 entries including 460 from snowbound Scandinavia and the Baltics, 498 from the host country and 86 with TeamGB. No fewer than 338 M/W21E,s!
Hosted in Idahnha-A-Nova by local club ADFA supported by the local municipality we were offered two classic races, two middle distance, one day-urban sprint and one night-urban sprint over 4 days.
Day 1 was a shock to those of us from SE England but KT ran one of his best races recently and with CK, LP and JC all managed opening top 10 placings. Fast, open, rocky hillsides, bits of green made precision navigation obligatory.
That evening the night sprint was fast and furious. KT rested his knees and accompanied our rookie Janice on her course.
GO’s sprint experts CK, LP & JC returned two wins and a third place. Crawford failing to match the quality of Chris and Linda with a poor route choice on a long leg. Punished by ending up the wrong side of a high wall.
Day two was a middle distance race in the same fast area as day 1. CK & LP, now acclimatised, both won and JC repeated his 5th position from Day1.
Day 3 we move north to a new area, Cidral. Hilly, open and with granite boulders the size of houses. Nearly 5% climb on most courses. LP messed up a control and dropped to 3rd overall. JC had a mare and went into training mode finishing 30th. Took three attempts to find control 6 after returning to 5 twice to relocate and do it properly. And that was after attempting to run off the map en-route to 5. KT was better and climbed 10 places. CK was consistant and won again to retain pole position going into the final round.
Day 3 pm took us to the urban Sprint in Monsanto “the most Portugese village of Portugal”. An uphill 1200m walk from car park to start warmed up tired legs which then cooled as we arrived several hours before the starts. If the earlier morning’s boulders can be compared to houses then the boulders on the top of the hill were the size of small apartment blocks.
Undeterred, LP and CK shot round 1km courses in leading times to win the W55 and W60 overall titles. JC managed to lose the plot again and finished 5th. Probably 2nd overall but the timing went awry on the day and results have not been posted on the website. We had to leave before the prizegiving to catch our flights.
Into the final day; day 4 again at Cidral. CK is leading her course, LP had dropped to 3rd, JC and KT in a private battle in 12 and 13 places (but top Brits.).
JC and KT had steady runs. KT’s bad knee refused to allow him to run optimally and JC finished first in the private head to head.
LP won in a canter but with insufficient points to regain the lead and finished a close second. CK went out steadily and by control 8 had an aggregated lead of about 5 minutes. However that is 7 minutes short of what is needed when you make a 12 minute error. A costly mistake dropped her to 3rd place just 1½ points behind Silver. 3767.21 verses 3768.78. How close is that!
So a contingent of 4 plus guest returns with 2 Gold, 2 Silver and 1 Bronze medal. Not bad.