Monday, August 20, 2007

WOC Qualifiers - Hot, hot, hot

So that's the qualifying done, and things can start for real on Wednesday. Kiev is hot, and sitting in the open watching the runners is hotter. Us lucky spectators then get a couple more hours in the hot sun before getting a chance to try out the forests on the WOC Tour races. The long qualifier area was rough and steep, with some significant cliffs and earthbanks to be negotiated. Today's middle qualifier was almost flat, with no more than one or two 2.5m contours needed for any of the features. Visibility was very low, so I have no idea how the mappers could see enough of the area to put in the large number of form lines showing subtle ground detail. Both areas were interesting and quite technical in their own way, but I think everyone is looking forward to some slightly faster running later in the week.

The Brits have had a solid if not spectacular time so far. Most people have made the finals but a few have missed out, mostly quite narrowly. There have certainly been a few surprises, with Moldova and Israel both getting runners to the finals.

For those still pondering on the previous question about the best WOC runner ever, how about a few suggestions. In recent times we clearly have Thierry Guiergiou (three consecutive middle race gold medals, and looking a pretty safe bet this week) and Simone Niggli (10 individual golds and 2 relay golds, including four gold medals at a single WOC twice: there was an entertaining argument today whene Simone was interviewed and corrected Per Forsberg about exactly how many gold medals she already had). Going back a little further Jorgen Martensson (11 long race finals, including two golds and never lower than 15th) or Annichen Kringstad (three long gold, three relay gold, and the second-biggest winning margin in WOC history when she won gold in 1983. A look at the Maprunner WOC ranking list throws up another suggestion. Perhaps I'll go for a definitive answer later in the week.

The Ukraine is turning out to be a game of two halves. Some aspects (hotel rooms with no air conditioning or bath plugs), hotel breakfast (grey omelette: how do they cook it like that?), toilets at events (best not to provide any details), somewhat chaotic transport arrangements) are somewhat behind what you might expect, whilst others (high-tech shopping centre with free wi-fi access) are as good as anywhere you'd find. Tomorrow it's the opening ceremony and a chance to see the centre of Kiev for real. Then the action really starts with the middle final on Wednesday.

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