Annika Langvad's blog post about how the race went for her (she won it), I first thought she was talking about a different race....
Anyhow, for me the race started with a blistering pace and I was being squeezed in by riders from either side, so I dropped back to avoid a crash. The start loop was up a short climb and very fast along on fire road and road circumnavigating the complete race arena. I found the pace very fast from the start and did my bestest to hang on to the bunch - it was like a road race: a person in front of me dropped a wheel and I had to chase! Finally, on the road section I was able to make up a few places and catch onto the group in front before we hit the singletrack and that was more or less where I would end up position wise. Because while the course is great fun to ride, with about 95% singletrack (time-wise), it's not that lovely in a race when you can't get by some girl that would rather push you down the hill than let you pass her (I only witnessed the quite physical elbows-out battle between the two girls in front and thought better than to get involved myself, apart from shouting at the girl that was holding both of us up). So we had to trail behind her for a whole lap before we had the chance to pass her.
However, the course was such a savage course, full of short steep power-sapping climbs and it was quite warm and humid too and I felt I was tiring towards the end of the race, starting to loose concentration and making more and more mistakes. In the last lap (which actually came one earlier than I had expected) I had to really focus to keep the pressure on as a few riders were closing in on me, but fortunately I could hold them off.
I finished in 14th place, which is OK, but I was a bit disappointed with my race, I didn't feel I had enough power and was beaten by a few people that I would have beaten last year.
Report and full results on cyclingnews here.
Thanks to Bas for doing my bottles - isn't it nice in mtbing that conflict of interest is being largely being ignored and people help you out everywhere?