Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Preview - World Orienteering Championships 2011.

This year's 28th World Orienteering Championships (WOC) are being held next week in the alpine foothills of the Savoie-Grand Revard region of France, centred around the towns of Chambery and Aix-les-Baines. In competition between the 13th-20th August, runners from 49 countries will compete in the 28th (by my counting!) WOC, fighting it out in the 8 (current) world championship disciplines - Sprint, Middle Distance, Long (Classic) Distance and Relay for both men and women.
During the week it will also be decided whether Scotland (YAY!) or Sweden (Boo!) will host WOC 2015.

The Forest Terrain.
Without beating about the bush - it's rough as a badger's arse and about as technical as it gets!
Swedish test race on Le Revard II, neighbouring the competition areas. From Olle Karner (Estonian runner) webpage.
The wealth of contour detail (mainly negative Karst-like features), altitude between 1200 and 1500m, along with rough underfoot conditions (rocky and covered in brashings, by all accounts) make running quickly and navigating cleanly tough on their own - let alone together! Add to that some 'iffy' sections of map on the training areas in which some of the best in the world have ditched 10+ minutes on one control, and the picture as to how hard it is starts to become clearer.
  However, with estimated winning speeds being much less than those seen in test races, coupled with new mapping of the WOC areas by the Romanian Marian Cotirta, suggest that the actual race areas are that bit kinder physically and the maps (hopefully!) a better representation of the terrain than experienced previously.
La Feclaz - part of the area used for the Middle and Long finals and the Relay - more open ground (both meadow and ski-slopes) on the map than in the surrounding training areas suggests WOC competitors will experience slightly easier running, although the forest still looks green, rough and rocky! (all old maps of WOC2011 areas are here).
The Sprint Terrain.
2010 Sprint Gold Medalist Matthias Muller (Sui). Picture courtesy of
This year's sprint races are again an urban/parkland and forest mix. The qualification in Aix-les-Bains appears to be a more wooded affair, whilst the maps of the final areas in Chambery suggest a mixture of old-town alleyway hunting and hilly parkland-cum-forest.
Sprint Quali area - parkland and woodland.
Part of the sprint final area, Chambery old town. 'Traboules' is the French version of  gynel (sp).
The Programme.
WOC starts with Long and Middle distance Qualification on Saturday 13th and Sunday 14th, respectively. The Sprint races will be on Tuesday 16th, qualification in the morning, finals in the afternoon/evening. The Long Distance final is on Wednesday 17th, Middle on Friday 19th before the champs are wound up with the usual finale of the relays on Saturday 20th, before the post-WOC banquet...

Coming soon - some conjecture as to who may win, and British team hopes (they're the same things, right?!)

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