One of the overlooked results at WOC 2011 was Wilbert Hollinger's 8th place in the Trail O WOC, interestingly one place ahead of Italy's Remo Medella who produced the map for the JK Sprint race at Stranmillis College last Easter. Wilbert and his LVO clubmate Alan Gartside were the only two Irish representatives at WTOC. Wilbert was a member of the first Irish team to take part in WOC back in Scotland in 1976. It was announced at WOC that Scotland will again be hosting the World Championships in 2015.
|Marcus in the Relay|
Even some of the best orienteers were defeated by the terrain - Finland's Minna Kauppi missed the first control on the women's long final and retired.
What about the terrain? Tales had come back from the training camps of unrelenting technical low visibility forest, and they were not far wrong. The qualification races were run in very detailed low visibility forest but things improved later in the week for the finals - have a look at some of the maps on the WOC web site here. What you don't really get a sense of is the level of detail in the terrain and the fact that relocation was so difficult.
|Click on image to enlarge|
A picture is worth a thousand words, however, and one of the most telling pictures appeared in the regional newspaper, Le Dauphiné, the day after the relay: it shows Thierry Gueorgiou running through the arena, about 10 minutes before he returned to take the relay gold. But it also shows a brave Marcus Pinker just starting out on the last lap of the relay for Ireland, to finish 40 minutes down on the winners. It shows how much work and resources we need to put into our elite orienteers to rival the world's best.
At the end, one of the Irish runners, Stockholm-based David Healy remarked "Now, back to easy Scandinavia"!
WOC 2012 is based in Lausanne in Switzerland from 14-21 July. See details here. There's a Swiss 5-Day being run with WOC 2012.
The JHI competitors will have an individual race on Saturday and a relay at Necarne near Irvinestown on Sunday.
|The WOC/O-Fest arena at La Féclaz|
Many of the runners found it very tough going, whether it was the ankle-twisting limestone pavement, the fallen trees, the low-visibility, the aggressive wasps, the heat or the illegible maps, or a combination of all of these.
The detail on the map was so dense it was very difficult to see, even with a magnifier - that was my main problem during the week. And when you could read the map, it didn't make any sense! Big crags and re-entrants on the ground didn't jump off the map at you. One must ask why the maps weren't printed at a more realistic scale, maybe 1:7500 or 1:5000 for the O-Festival, even if the rules specified 1:10000 or 1:15000 for WOC. Was it an orienteering or an eyesight competition?
Unlike in Norway for the equivalent event last year, we had no sprint race, which was a pity as they are a lot of fun. What we did have, was a chance to run on some of the most demanding terrain I have ever seen: I was struggling to beat 20 min/km. One very experienced orienteer I heard of spent 25 minutes in the circle looking for the control, making three attempts to attack it from different directions. Again, I would have to ask if the terrain should have been mapped at all? The maps were impressive, though: a large area of the Revard plateau mapped in incredible detail. (Note: Forget about your preconceived ideas of a plateau being flat! It was high up, but certainly not flat). The forests reminded me of the Asiago area in northern Italy where the 2004 World Masters was run, with alpine meadows, pine forest and limestone underlying it, but this was far more detailed than Asiago.
Some good Irish results were Brian Corbett (M50), Ruairi Long (M12), Clodagh Moran (W12), Niamh Corbett (W16), Conor Short (M20E), though we had no overall podium places.
Any other notable features of the event? The organisation was a bit shaky the first day, with runners having to walk an unexpected uphill 3 km or more from their cars to the arena (there were shuttle buses from different parking but not many of the competitors knew). As a result lots of people missed start times but the organisers didn't record all the actual starting times so the day 1 results were a bit of a mess - nothing like the mess that was in the portaloos, though: whoever thought that 8 toilets were enough for 4000 runners? And what about the event centre where you had to go to register? How do you find it, in the middle of Chambéry? Of course! The details are in the programme! And where do you go to get the programme? Why, to the event centre, of course! Mmm ... The courses for younger juniors were difficult, but admittedly some of the routes were taped with red and white streamers. However, some of the deepest pits on the map (the ones where you couldn't see the bottom) were also marked. With what? I'll let you guess that one!
In fairness, things did improve after the first day.
I would be slow to recommend the WOC as a family holiday, unless you are all committed and competent orienteers. The days can be very long (05.30 alarm, anyone?) if you are to run and then wait around for the WOC race to follow. However, the advent of electronic timing, satellite tracking of runners, big screen and TV cameras in the terrain, have made orienteering close to a spectator sport, so there's lots to keep you interested, especially in the relay.
So, maybe next year in Switzerland will be more family friendly? But it's a great experience for an orienteer to go and see the world's best in action.
Photos of WOC and some other stuff will follow shortly ... they were here but they all vanished after about three hours putting it all together this afternoon!
The closing date for the receipt of completed application forms is: 4pm on Wednesday 14th September 2011
For further information on the above vacancy or to download an application pack, visit our website here. Alternatively, application packs can be obtained by contacting Raymond Finlay on 048 6634 8888 from the Republic (or +44 28 6634 8888)
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