Road to WOC #14: Get to know more from the course planners
The World Orienteering Championships 2021 is just behind the corner! Last week we introduced the WOC venues. In today’s Road to WOC you will get to know what to expect there. Right from the course setters: Can you feel the spirit of Terezín? Smell the hot summer in pine forests around Doksy? Touch the rough granite boulders of the Jizerské hory? Or finally, taste the dust and sand in the narrow passages of Kokořínsko?
Sprint: Daniel Wolf
What skills must a competitor demonstrate in order to succeed?
Speed, fluency, full concentration throughout the race. One must be well physically prepared and fast like for any sprint race, but at the same time being a good orienteer is necessary.
What was the biggest challenge you had to deal with as a course setter?
The biggest challenge was definitely to learn the “language of Terezín fortress” – to understand the local topography and the structure of the fortress city, to be able to understand the residents and officials and explain them where we actually want to run. I’d like to express many thanks to all of them for their kindness and cooperation. I still have big gaps in this, but somehow I already recognize bastions, cavaliers, curtains, ravelins, redoubts, retranchements, lunettes or counter-gardes. But recognizing these terms is just the first step, because objects are also numbered as they go around the city, and that is a bigger nut to crack. But for now, we will keep secret whether the race will be decided in the city or between the fortress walls. Once the race is finished, I definitely recommend a visit to the fortress.
The competition area is very interesting and promises unique experiences for spectators and athletes. Which competitors do you think the course will fit?
The competition area has a very strong genius loci. It is a place where a large piece of history was written, which unfortunately was not always positive. Many people have Terezín connected mainly with the concentration camp and the Gestapo prison during the Second World War, but in addition to monuments and places of reverence, the city can certainly offer the interesting history related to the beginnings of the fortress as such. And if the weather is good, I believe it will be a really nice spectators experience. As I mentioned above, the course will fit those who maintain high speed and full focus from start to finish.
Sprint Relay: Radek Novotný
Doksy is a beautiful city with many attractive locations. How difficult was it for you to set courses suitable for the TV broadcast and at the same time ensure that they correspond to the required master level?
Doksy is really a city that is not particularly complicated in terms of elite runner navigation. The priority was to create interesting situations and uncompromising course balance in the form of a corresponding orientation task. The space for changes due to the TV broadcast is relatively limited, and a shift of a control by 2 mm often plays a crucial role. However, mixed relays are an amazing television format and this is a fact that the course setter has firmly in mind from the very beginning of his work. In my case, moreover, a competitor’s experience always plays a role, so I naturally avoid places where I don’t feel good as a competitor when setting a course. In any case, the final form of the mixed relay race is, in the end, always the intersection of the setter’s and TV approach. For that reason, I’m glad that I was able to set a course without major sacrifices, and it will offer everything I managed to come up with in the area.
A number of very strong teams will stand at the starting line. Which of them do you think have a chance to win medals?
The current distribution of forces clearly favors the Swiss and the Swedes, but the Norwegians and Czechs should definitely join the fight for medals. Also, if Maja Alm finishes, Denmark is always a favorite team. However, there are many more great teams where the result may depend on specific team names and on the decision whether runners focusing mainly on forest disciplines will enter the race. Given a wider group of top level runners, the quality of the last leg is often a key. Runners are not in touch with a group anymore and thus individual abilities can play a crucial role.
Middle Qualification: Martin Janata
When you took on the role of the course setter for the middle distance qualification, did you immediately have a clear idea of how your courses will look like?
The area we reserved for qualification is pretty small, so it did not offer that many options. We basically hit the concept from the very beginning and just polished the courses. It was rather difficult to fit all 6 to this area (3 men, 3 women).
In the finals, the possibilities were greater, and Michal Horáček and I went through several more or less different concepts. Unfortunately, there were no competitions with international presence similar to the WOC as Euromeeting was canceled, so we will see how/if we hit estimated times.
Everyone expects that the middle distance terrain will be very demanding, both physically and technically. Which competitors do you think will qualify for the finals? What will decide the race?
Strong legs will be needed for sure, both because of the climbing and ubiquitous tall blueberry bushes. Furthermore, accuracy and technical certainty will be needed in overgrown steep slopes, where every little hesitation will cost a lot of time. The best will definitely succeed 🙂
Middle Finals: Michal Horáček
What 3 words come to your mind in connection to the course you set?
Challenging, rough, and diverse.
The Jizera Mountains will definitely test the strength of runners. Do you have some tips on how to keep the speed in such terrains?
It is always difficult to estimate the pace of the best ones, but I believe that men will get below 7 min/km, for women we expect a pace of around 8 min/km. The weather and conditions will also play a big role, but we hope that “Jizerky” will show its kindness.
Relay: Radek Novotný
In your opinion, is more defensive/contact forking a key to a race attractiveness, or vice versa?
Relays are clearly a contact discipline to me. Kind of a “last-man-standing game”. Though, there are situations, when a competitor has to run on his own, to show that he can not only keep the pace, but also speed it up. Forking should definitely be as balanced as possible – and after running through it, the order of runners in the race should not change fundamentally. Because mentally, there is a huge difference between running in the front or losing. And this should not depend on the forking, but on the performance of runners. However, achieving a full equality between individual forkings in the sandstones is practically impossible, and I believe that the competitors are ready for it.
What was the most difficult for you while setting up relay courses?
Find the optimal route through the area. And also estimate time per leg without having a chance to test it by a world-class competitor. In this kind of terrain, the estimate may vary in minutes, and it has a great impact on the winning times – in case of relays, everything is multiplied by three. It’s not that important for competitors, but the TV broadcast schedule does not have much understanding for time delays.
Long: Petr Karvánek
In the long distance, men will climb more than a vertical kilometer. Do you expect that some competitors will get even higher?
To calculate climbing for the long distance is very tricky. What is the ideal route choice for one may not be the ideal for the others. Moreover, the approach of runners on how to solve individual route choices changes during the race. I will perhaps not reveal too much if I say that I pushed to the upper limits of possible during the calculation.
What time would you reach on the course yourself?
I can actually be very specific here because I ran the whole men’s course (except for running through the arena). It took me 210 minutes and I’m not ashamed of my time at all. If I speeded up a little, I could squeeze it to 208 😉