Route choice has always been one of my weakest points, so I came into this race slightly apprehensive! The terrain was incredibly runnable but with a huge amount of rock and lots of insanely steep hills, meaning that straight was rarely the best option. In most UK areas I tend to go straight pretty much all the time, so I had to get into the mentality of taking longer, roundabout routes to avoid the massive hills. This meant I was fairly hesitant throughout the race, wanting to decide on a route at the start of each leg so I didn’t have to change my route choice halfway through.
Although in retrospect almost every leg (including 5-6, which was about 150m!) had route choice, I think the crucial ones were 9-10 and 11-12. Unfortunately, looking back, I think I chose the wrong route on both of these, with 11-12 being especially stupid – a worst-of-both-worlds mixture of straight and round. At the time, I thought I was doing the right thing, which was good in a way as it meant I wasn’t regretting anything and just focussing on executing the leg. But in the evening, when we got to see the four main routes taken by the Czech team a week earlier, I realised how silly my route was, and that I really need to work on my assessment of route choices!
I kept relatively high on 1-2, 7-8, and 12-13, and possibly should have done so on 9-10 as well. I think for 11-12 I should probably have gone downhill (to the north edge of the map), but to be honest that route was so out of the way that it didn’t even enter my mind during the race. Despite the longer distance, it had relatively little climb and a lot of downhill and flat, with the added bonus that it would have been extremely easy to execute and thus a very low-risk option.
Overall, I really enjoyed the race. The planning was awesome and so was the terrain, and it was a real eye-opener as to the importance of route choice – something I will definitely be working on in the future!