Wednesday, August 22, 2007

WOC 2007: Return of the King

At the press conference after his victory Thierry said that at the start of the middle qualification race he looked at the map and immediately knew it was his sort of terrain. Everybody in the crowd knew that it was his sort of terrain. At the radio control in the final he went through a minute clear. By the run-through in the spectator area he had nearly caught Valentin Novikov who had started two minutes ahead of him and was running fast enough for bronze. By the final run-in he had overtaken Novikov and had a winning margin of over two minutes. Tero Fohr in second place was less that two minutes clear of 2006 middle race World Champion Holger Hott, but he finished only 15th. The King is back with a truly amazing victory, but one which everybody expected. It was great to watch.

Simone managed to prove that the Queen is back as well, but for some reason this just didn't feel as much of an achievement or cause for celebration. Elsewhere a number of big names came to grief in another area of low visibility and vague contour detail, perhaps marginally slower than the qualifier had been due to thicker ground cover, at least for early starters before the elephant tracks started forming.

The mortals got a chance for a run later in the afternoon and found out how difficult it was to get one control perfect let alone all of them like the King must have managed. And so another red-hot day in the Ukraine came to an end, or at least it should have done. We joined the bus queue at around 17:30, along with over 100 other runners. A single bus arrived an hour later and took half of the people away. After that the organisers started flagging down taxis and cars on the side of the road to take people the 20 minutes back to the hotels, and we entertained the crowd with a game of cricket. We finally got into a taxi at 19:45, at which time there were still over 30 people left waiting. Not a good end to the day.

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