Sunday, August 05, 2018

WOC 2018 Shorts: Day 1

So here we go again. 2018 and the WOC circus has moved to Latvia, so that's where Team Maprunner are this week. Helen and Peter decided to join in the fun, so all four of us will be experiencing the delights of Riga and Sigulda. I'm not convinced I can manage a fully formed article each day (given I still haven't quite finished the write-up of last year's middle and relay yet), so this year we will try something different and just go for a selection of things that take my fancy each day.

So nearly some results to celebrate

What 0.6 seconds means
I just can't get too excited about Maja Alm and Daniel Hubmann being Sprint World Champions (again), even if they are clearly great athletes. Tim Robertson's silver is much more like it, even though New Zealand have never featured in my "who is about to make it big" predictions. Tim could quite reasonably have been upset to have missed gold by just a 1.1 seconds, but was remarkably philosophical in the press conference. The big loser was Yannick Michiels who sat utterly despondent at the finish for several minutes after missing a medal by 0.6 seconds. And Belgium was one of my predictions. Result of the day in the Qualifier was undoubtedly Ahmet Kacmaz who was second in his heat, and ended up 37th in the Final. Still no signs of the Chinese waking up though.

In the Women's race Alice Leake in 8th was probably the biggest surprise near the top. Alice becomes the sixth British woman to manage a top ten sprint result, joining Heather Monro, Tessa Hill, Helen Bridle, Claire Ward and Sarah Rollins. Another three women (Yvette Baker, Cat Taylor and Carol McNeill) have managed a top ten in Long or Middle.

Fun and games at the last control

It's behind you
The arrangement of the start flag and last control was far from ideal. The men were not too badly affected, since the start flag was mostly hidden as they approached the last control. Even so it caused some confusion as runners suddenly saw the start flag as they ran towards the finish. But the women came in at right angles to the men, meaning the start flag was visible and the last control hidden by spectators. Nearly everyone ended up running to the start flag and then having to cut back right, losing several seconds. Controversially it got to the stage where spectators were directing runners where to go.

To me this was just part of the overall problem that the area around the arena was just too small for the number of spectators and general public that were trying to get through it, especially when trying to fit in a run out, run through and finish. Another 500 spectators and the whole thing would have come to a standstill.

What World Cup 2005 taught WOC 2018

Tim and the statue
On closer inspection it turned out that the  "statue" used for the last control was an artificial boulder. We got there first at the World Cup Sprint Race in 2005 at Battersea Park, when the centre of the athletics track was decorated with a group of artificial boulders carefully crafted by Mike Murray.You can see one control on in the iconic photograph of Heather Monro on the Maprunner home page that became the Maprunner logo.

Prospective World Championships Mapper Exam Paper Sample Question.
You are using an artificial boulder as a control site in the WOC Sprint Final. What map symbol should you use to represent it?

Answer: The site is clearly a statue consisting of a boulder. It is therefore mapped as a statue. (Part 2 of this question will be published tomorrow.)

Cable TV

There were a lot of TV cameras spread around the town, most of which came with associated huge lengths of cable. A favourite TV trick is for the cameraman to sprint in pursuit of a runner down some narrow passageway whilst 200 metres of cable unwinds from a pile on the ground. This makes great TV but it also leaves an awful lot of cable for people to trip over, especially if you are the runner just behind the cameraman, or are going the other way down the passage. I also watched a cameraman nearly fall over backwards when the cable caught on a bollard and jerked out of the camera as he tried to keep up with a world class athlete.

Be prepared

Daniel Hubmann was asked in the press conference if the cobblestones were slippery in the wet. He revealed that he had three different pairs of shoes with him at the pre-start, but in the end went for the lightest pair since he thought the rain was going to stop. Great orienteer, awful weather forecaster.

Photo-bombing the wedding

The Sprint Qualifier and the Latvian O-Week Spectator Race were both hold in the very scenic Kronvalda Parks in bright sunshine. This is clearly a popular spot, since I managed to run through not one but two sets of wedding photos, as well as having to dodge round a stretch limousine on the way back to the tram.

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