Review of the World Orienteering Championships | Fast run
Saturday saw the climax of the 2019 World Orienteering Championships, which took place in Ãstfold, Norway, last week. Kris Jones reports for Fast Running.
If you want to learn a little more about orienteering and all the fast running involved, check out GB International’s post Kris Jone from the start of the year.
The first edition of a âsplitâ world championship (âForestâ and âUrbanâ schedules now alternate) saw athletes compete for medals in long distance, middle distance and relay races over the course of 4 days.
The terrain in front of the athletes was typical of the Nordic forest, hilly and detailed, with a heather blanket to undermine the runners’ legs.
It’s a different environment from what many British athletes have learned to orient themselves to, but, with some of the squad based in Scandinavia in the months and years leading up to the championships and training camps spent in the neighboring forests, the British athletes will have hoped to be able to compete for the first places.
Host nation Norway would provide many of the favorites, but there would also be fierce competition from neighboring Sweden and orienteering powerhouse Switzerland.
Earlier in the week
Tuesday saw a middle distance qualifier, with each nation giving up three starting spots and the fastest 15 of the three heats advancing to Friday’s final. One of the shocks of the day was the Norwegian Paul Sirum who missed a place in the final. Five of the six British athletes made it through, with Oslo-based Yorkshireman Matt Speake narrowly missing.
Matthew Speak in the middle distance qualification.
Wednesday saw the presentation of the first medals of the week in the long distance races. The women faced a course of 11.7 km with 300 m of vertical drop and 21 checkpoints and the men 16.6 km with 530 m of vertical drop and 26 controls. If these distances seem short, remember that this is a real cross country race; athletes cannot set foot on a path during the entire race, preferring to take the shortest path between checkpoints.
Long and Medium Distance races both use a time trial start so that competitors face the challenges of navigation on their own. In the women’s distance race, Tove Alexandersson of Sweden was the class of the field, taking the win by more than six minutes.
Tove was easily one of the favorites for the race, having won seven gold medals at the World Championships in the past three years. She is also an elegant runner without a card; she is the reigning Sky Running world champion. Tove used this racing speed to get ahead of his rivals on the two longest stages of the course, opening up an unassailable lead over his rivals. Lina Strand from Sweden and Simona Aebersold from Switzerland completed the podium.
The two representatives of Great Britain (nations are allocated starting slots for the long distance based on the nations rankings) were Jo Shepherd, in 21st position, and Charlotte Watson (@WatsonCharlott), in 36th position.
Tove Alexandersson, Sweden – 1:09:00
Lina Strand, Sweden – 1:15:16 (+06: 16)
Simona Aebersold – 1:15:50 (+06: 50)
Jo Shepherd, Great Britain – 1:26:51 (+17: 51)
Charlotte Watson, Great Britain – 1:33:06 (+24: 06)
The favorite also won in the men’s long distance; Olav Lundanes won his first long distance title in Norway in 2010, and has won four more gold medals since then, including at the last three world championships.
If the winner was not a surprise, the silver medal certainly was. Olav’s Norwegian teammate Kasper Fosser led most of the race before dropping second in the final third. Kasper won three gold medals at the World Junior Orienteering Championships earlier this summer and became the youngest medalist at the World Championships.
If Olav is the king of the long distance, Kasper has claimed the title of prince. The third was veteran Swiss runner Daniel Hubmann, who won his 27th medal at the World Championships. Britons Hector Haines (@HectorHaines) and Graham Gristwood (@GrahamGristwood) separated by less than a minute, in 20th and 21st position.
Graham was in the top 15, but skipped a late check in his haste to make his way to the finish line. Fortunately, Graham realized and corrected his mistake, but wasting time cost him positions.
Olav Lundanes, Norway – 1:30:09
Kasper Fosser, Norway – 1.31.48 (+1: 39)
Daniel Hubmann, Switzerland – 1:33:07 (+2: 58)
Hector Haines, Great Britain – 1:42:16 (+12: 07)
Graham Gristwood, Great Britain – 1:42:59 (+12: 50)
Compared to long distance, which can be a battle of attrition, medium distance is characterized by intense navigation where seconds can make the difference. Tove Alexandersson and Olav Lundanes showed no fatigue in the long distance on Wednesday and both were victorious again in the middle distance.
Tove failed to replicate her dominant long-distance margin of victory, however, trading the lead with young Swiss Simona Aebersold throughout the course. Simona eventually had to settle for second place, but will be happy to win another medal from her first senior world championships. The bronze medal was shared between Natalia Gemperle from Russia and Venla Harju from Finland.
Great Britain’s representatives Megan Carter Davies (@cdmegan), Jo Shepherd and Catherine Taylor finished 21st, 24th and 27th, respectively. The fact that they were separated by less than a minute shows how much of a difference seconds can make in a middle distance race.
Tove Alexandersson, Sweden – 38:20
Simona Aebersold, Switzerland – 38:25 (+00: 05)
Natalia Gemperle, Russian Federation – 40:05 (+01: 45)
Venla Harju, Finland – 40:05 (+01: 45)
Megan Carter Davies, Great Britain – 44:17 (+05: 57)
Jo Shepherd, Great Britain – 44:27 (+06: 07)
Catherine Taylor, Great Britain – 45:00 (+06: 40)
The men’s race was a battle between Norway and Sweden, with Norway narrowly winning twice. Olav Lundanes won the gold medal, 11 seconds ahead of Sweden’s Gustav Bergman.
Magne Daehli of Norway won the bronze medal, just one second ahead of Gustav’s teammate Emil Svensk. Briton Ralph Street (@Ralph_Street), 10th last year in middle distance, finished in 19th position. Peter Hodkinson was the other representative of Great Britain, finishing in 31st position.
Olav Lundanes, Norway – 34:18
Gustav Bergman, Sweden – 34:29 (+00: 11)
Magne Daehli, Norway – 34:47 (+00: 29)
Ralph Street, Great Britain – 38:26 (+04: 08)
Peter Hodkinson, Great Britain – 40:41 (+06: 23)
Get together for the relay
The relay is often the most exciting race of the week. The individual race time trial format is replaced by a mass start for teams of three. Forked routes (each individual runner has slightly different routes with teams finishing the same overall route at the end of the relay) mean head-to-head races are the order of the day.
Great Britain have played above the sum of their games in numerous relays over the years, battling for medals on multiple occasions over the past decade.
True to the reputation of the relay for its exciting races, the women’s race took place to the finish line. Karolin Ohlsson traded the lead with Switzerland’s Julia Jakob in the finals and managed to win the sprint to bring the gold back to Sweden. The Russian Federation took third place ahead of its home country, Norway. The British trio of Charlotte Watson, Megan Carter Davies and Catherine Taylor crossed the field in the second and third rounds to take a solid ninth position.
Sweden (Lina Strand, Tove Alexandersson, Karolin Ohlsson) – 1:35:49
Switzerland (Sabine Hauswirth, Simona Aebersold, Julia Jakob) – 1:35:53 (+00: 04)
Russian Federation (Anastasia Rudnaya, Tatyana Riabkina, Natalia Gemperle) – 1:36:56 (+01: 07)
Great Britain (Charlotte Watson, Megan Carter Davies, Catherine Taylor) – 1:45:13 (+09: 24)
The male relay
After a large field finished together in the first leg, Norway, with two-time gold medalist Olav Lundanes, and Finland took the lead early in the second leg; with Sweden the best chaser. Despite having a lead in the last stage, the errors of Norway and Finland allowed the Swede Gustav Bergman to win and win the gold medal for a Swedish double.
Caught up by the pursuers, Finland managed to win the silver medal just ahead of France; Norway had to settle for fifth place, just 21 seconds off second. Pushing too hard on a hill led to a navigation error which caused Briton Peter Hodkinson to lose the lead on the first stage. finally finishing in 29th place and seven minutes behind the leaders. His teammates Graham Gristwood and Ralph Street climbed the rankings to finish 17th.
Sweden (Johan Runesson, Emil Svensk, Gustav Bergman) – 1:40:42
Finland (Aleksi Niemi, Elias Kuukka, Miika Kirmula) – 1:42:16 (+1: 34)
France (Nicholas Rio, FrÃ©dÃ©ric Tranchand, Lucas Basset) – 1:42:25 (+1: 43)
Great Britain (Peter Hodkinson, Graham Gristwood, Ralph Street) – 1:54:30 (+13: 48)
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Kris Jones is featured in the “Fast 10: Class of 2019” and, during the year, will be sharing her running journey. You can follow Kris on Instagram and Twitter, while fMore information on the ‘Class of 2019’ can be found here.
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