EYOC 2022 – Euan Tryner

I was really looking forward to EYOC, although I almost didn’t dare believe I’d get to run until I actually got there after being selected for 3 EYOCs and 1 JWOC without managing to compete. In the week or two before the race, temperatures were in the mid-thirties in Hungary and showed no sign of dropping by the competition so we were expecting hot conditions. We were met by a blast of heat stepping off a plane that was unrelenting for the entire weekend apart from the refuge of air-conditioned cars. It was a late arrival to the hotel where it was disappointing to find out there was no air-con. After a quick jog to shake off the travel legs and dinner, it was time for bed before the model event the next day.

The model event was close to the hotel so only required another jog out to it. The maps had looked very green when geeking but it turned out to be pretty runnable on the whole. The terrain was steep so the most likely place to get caught out was on the slopes, something I would later fall foul of. There was a team meeting where we discussed the niche factors of the terrain as well as race tactics and route choices. In the afternoon there was a sprint and technical model which most just walked round and involved figuring out what you could and couldn’t cross, mainly created by some very uncrossable crossable walls, luckily these didn’t really feature in the sprint itself. Due to a concert on Friday and Saturday night we changed hotel, which required a trip across the border to Slovakia, but it was worth it since the new hotel had air-con something that was definitely valuable because otherwise it would have been impossible to cool down after races, as a couple who didn’t have air-con will tell you. There was team meeting over logistics for the morning and then it was to bed with an international debut for the entire team looming – Covid having prevented the GB from competing for 2 years in a row.

In the morning I was filled with a mix of excitement and nerves, while even getting to the point where you’re putting on a GB top feels like a dream come true, I still had goals set for the competition and wanted to do as well as I could. It was hot, hard race. I settled into the race quickly playing number one relatively safe and used the long run out to pick a good route choice for 2. The race was going relatively well up until number 7 where I ended up far too low and faffed about for 2 minutes trying to find a gully. I was quite frustrated after that and ran hard for the next couple of legs until the run through. There was a great atmosphere in the arena and I was grateful for the drinks station where you could cool down a little before an absolute slog back up the hill, just to finish you off in case the heat hadn’t already. The heat was definitely getting to me on the second to last control where I jumped ahead a step in my plan and started looking for my control too early. The support from the rest of team and the coaches was great when I finished and was definitely necessary because nobody finished in a good state. After recovering there was an opening ceremony, medal ceremony and party to attend. There were the usual speeches from various local politicians which never make opening ceremonies particularly fun events. The prizegiving featured many flower crowns along with the Swiss singing their national anthem when the organisers couldn’t find it – unfortunately there weren’t any GB podiums with the best position being 16th.

The next day was the sprint race which the organisers scheduled in late afternoon so as many people as possible would come and watch. While this was a good idea, and certainly did create a good atmosphere, it also fell in the hottest part of the day. The race went pretty well for me, I was mainly focused on picking good route choices and clean navigation, only pushing the running when I could. This worked well apart from one leg where I thought there was a gap in a wall until I was approaching it, it wasn’t the end of the world though and probably only cost me 15s. The tactic of not pushing too hard early on worked well with an easy fast end to the course. Overall, I was happy with a top 20 in the sprint, given that I would have expected to do better in the long.

The relay was the final competition and after some surprising team news I was running first leg. Due to GB’s lack of attendance in 2021 I was on the last line at the start. In the end I think this worked out quite well as it allowed me to take my time out of the start and get the right gaffel. I was focused on running my own race, I made a small mistake at one control and lost the chasing pack however a good route choice on another control brought me back into that pack. I went through the run through in 5th just behind 3rd and 4th who I caught quickly after. I had a different gaffel so lost the rest of the pack I was in and was on my own approaching the second last control. What I didn’t know at the time is that the front pair had messed up and the Lithuanian appeared at the second last control just in front of me along with a Norwegian who’d miss punched. I stuck with them and handed over to my second leg in second, something that I was delighted with. Unfortunately, a couple of mistakes dropped the team down a few placed but nevertheless I was happy with my performance.

Such a good performance in the relay left me with mixed emotions. On the one hand I was delighted with my run and it was really satisfying, but it did leave me a little disappointed with my other performances, knowing what was possible if I’d got it right. I think in the end I know I’ve got the ability to top 10 at least and one thing for certain is that I’m desperate to compete for GB again.

Thank you to YHOA their financial support and to all the coaches, particularly Nick, whose advice I have benefitted from.