Figueira da Foz hosted this weekend two lively races, one of Long Distance and another of Sprint, presenting the first Foot-O National Champions of the season. In the highest place of the podium three debutants in these wanderings of the gold medals: Manuel Horta, João Mega Figueiredo and Vera Alvarez. Only Maria Sá "relapsed", winning her fourth Long Distance title.
With the echoes of the biggest Orienteering party, named Tiomila, heard all over the world, it was with great enthusiasm that close than 500 athletes headed to Figueira da Foz, on the Atlantic coast of Portugal, for the National Championships of Long Distance and Sprint 2013. At the command of the operations, the Orienteering Section of Ginásio Clube Figueirense offered to all the participants two new maps, one of forest at Leirosa and another one inside the typical fishing village of Buarcos, both "smelling" the sea and the sun, in two wonderful days to practice the sport.
The first day was devoted to the Long Distance race, in which Manuel Horta (GafanhOri) got the victory. The athlete took 1:30:37 to complete the 16.5 km of his course, leaving the immediate positions to Diogo Miguel (Ori-Estarreja) and Paulo Franco (COC) with over 1:50 and 2:58, respectively. The women's race was won by Maria Sá (GD4C) with a time of 1:05:28 against 1:08:58 of Raquel Costa (GafanhOri) and 1:10:19 of Catarina Ruivo (COC), ranked third. Let's say that the women's race was less 7.4 km (!) than the male, with Maria Sá accusing the Organization of “discrimination.”
“It was a title that I wasn't expecting, especially for being the Long Distance how far my least favourite distance. Despite not having great errors, losing two minutes overall, the pace was not very strong and I was really surprised with the final victory”, would refer Manuel Horta regarding her national title. Also Maria Sá showed herself surprised by the success achieved: "Technically it was a very simple race, not missed more than thirty seconds, but I thought that my opponent did not make big mistakes, and being physically stronger than I, would end up winning. It was really a surprise and I think the fact that I compete without any pressure was a big advantage.”
It's forbidden to make mistakes!
As for the National Sprint Championship in 2013, the courses showed weak technical challenges due to the lack of options, but where a hesitation, a little mistake - even the smallest ones - meant precious seconds away of the title. Consistent and safe races - yet not devoid of errors - were the recipe of João Mega Figueiredo (CN Alvito) and Vera Alvarez (CPOC) to beat the concurrency. In the male sector, Mega Figueiredo took 16 minutes to complete his course, beating Miguel Silva (CPOC) and Pedro Nogueira (ADFA) by 25 and 43 seconds, respectively. The fight in the women's was tighter - the first five ranked ended separated by 46 seconds -, with Vera Alvarez registering on arrival 14:21, against 14:37 of Raquel Costa (GafanhOri) and 14:51 of Andreia Silva (COC).
Regarding his course, João Mega Figueiredo said that "the confidence to reach the podium was great because this is the distance that I feel a little more at ease. I started very strong and tried to maintain a very high pace until the end, which allowed me to achieve the title of national champion sprint despite not having done a race free of minor errors and hesitations.” For the new female National Champion of Sprint “this was a title that I aspired to, since the Sprint is one of my international goals, the distance at which I better prepare.” The secret of the victory, according to Vera Alvarez, was at “no big mistakes and make a consistent race. Not always did the best option, but as I was physically strong, I could prevail.”
Long Distance National Championship 2013
Men Elite class
1 Manuel Horta (GafanhOri) 1:30:37
2nd Diogo Miguel (Ori-Estarreja) 1:32:27
3rd Paul Franco (COC) 1:33:35
4th João Figueiredo Mega (CN Alvito) 1:35:24
5th Pedro Nogueira (ADFA) 1:35:31
Women Elite class
1 Maria Sá (GD4C) 1:05:28
2nd Raquel Costa (GafanhOri) 1:08:58
3rd Catarina Ruivo (COC) 1:10:19
4th Patricia Casalinho (COC) 1:12:04
5 Vera Alvarez (CPOC) 1:13:02
Sprint National Championship 2013
Men Elite class
1st Mega João Figueiredo (CN Alvito) 16:00
2nd Miguel Silva (CPOC) 16:25
3rd Pedro Nogueira (ADFA) 16:43
4th Hélder Marcolino (GD4C) 16:49
5th Manuel Horta (GafanhOri) 17:01
Women Elite class
1 Vera Alvarez (CPOC) 14:21
2nd Raquel Costa (GafanhOri) 14:37
3rd Andreia Silva (COC) 14:51
4th Maria Sá (GD4C) 14:56
5th Patricia Casalinho (COC) 15:07
More information at http://cn2013.ginasiori.pt/.