Thursday, August 03, 2006

WOC+5: Normal service is restored

The long distance final restored normal order, but only just. Pre-race favourites Simon Niggli and Janne Lakanen took gold, but it was close at the top, with several nations having a good day. The GB team had one of those days we now expect: nothing spectacular but pretty reasonable really. Difficult to cheer, but better than it feels at the time, as I seem to have written so often in reviewing WOC history.

From the spectating point of view the event arena was good, with everything in a long thin field in a valley. The run-in was along the bottom, with spectators sitting on the side looking down on the action. There was the token spectator control. This was a wooden platform behind the run-in that, as usual, meant a run down to it and then back out without providing any real orienteering merit other than to show the runners to the crowd. The big screen is really very big, and people are beginning to understand what to show on it. The TV control had enough cameras to build up some tension as people approached and you could see the runner's position gradually slipping down the field. There was a brief appearance of the tracking system, showing a long leg on each course and giving a first idea of how critical some of the route choices appear to have been. However it is still very difficult to integrate this into a real-time commentary, and I still think it is more useful for a highlights programme after the event.

Without seeing the splits it is difficult to be sure, but it seems there were some fairly large packs forming again. Lakanen certainly ran a large portion of the race with Gonon of France, dragging him into the top 10 (or was it the other way round?). Jamie Stevenson apparently ran the whole course on his own, which must have cost him time. Just one of those things if you accept a 2 minute start interval.

So two races gone, two to go. Another rest day for the poor elites whilst we spectators get to see what the area was really like.

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