Saturday, July 15, 2006

WOC-13: We interrupt this broadcast...

There I was all set to tell you about the delights of WOC 87 in France when various other things came up which seemed more interesting in the short term.

Firstly I have just had an email from Nick Barrable, the CompassSport editor, asking me to do an article for CompassSport about the spectator point of view. Not a problem, but what interests me is how he spotted that this blog had started, since I haven't publicised it at all yet. Better email him to find out.

Secondly this is a chance for some first thoughts on what might happen in Denmark in two weeks time. The sprint test race in Arhus has just finished, so we now know a bit about the technology that internet spectators can expect, as well as a bit about who is in form. The coverage included a fixed video stream of a camera showing the finish line, with commentary by that well-known Dane Clive Allen. Clive is not the most animated of commentators (certainly not in comparison with Per Forsberg who will presumably be doing WOC itself) but he clearly had a reasonable supply of information available, even if it didn't include the name of the mysterious New Zealander who kept getting mentioned. The real-time results seemed a bit hit and miss, and need a bit of work. The presentation of information itself is good, but results seemed be missing or not working for a long time. At one point I'm sure they had runners shown against the wrong courses, and the M21 results still aren't complete. Anyway, you can see what's on offer at which will have coverage tomorrow (middle) and Monday (long).

Weather in Denmark looks pretty much like it is here in St Albans at the moment. Unbroken sunshine, with temperatures in the mid 20s. We're camping for the WOC week, so I guess it will be raining by then. The main point of interest on the video was the park road that finishers crossed about 10 metres from the finish line. I assume there was someone controlling the traffic just out of sight, but several times a car shot past just before or after a runner. I also spotted several runners going for the "extended map" technique to cross the finish beam that extra few milliseconds earlier. Does this really save more than you lose by having to slow down to throw your arm forward in the first place?

Least surprising result of the day was clearly Simon Niggli's win, but a margin of 53 seconds over Mina Kauppi is enormous, even if the Finn was on a slightly different course. There was good news for GB, with Sarah Rollins, Pippa Whitehouse and Graham Gristwood all having good runs. David Brickhill-Jones was announced just ahead of GG, but then the commentary said he'd been disqualified. Still no information on the results web site on this, so we'll have to wait and see if BJ has recovered after his JK injury. Final concern for the organising team will be that the men were at least a minute slower than expected: time for the planner to lose 200m from the WOC final?

Perhaps tomorrow I'll get on to what happened when I went to my first ever WOC as a spectator.

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