The venue for the relays was the same as the long distance finals, but the competition area was to the south and east of the assembly area, while the long distance finals were held in the area to the north. The assembly was a large dirt/sand sports field and being very dry, when the wind blew, it was very dusty and unpleasant. The temperature seemed much higher than on Friday and plenty of fluid was the order of the day. The race was set up to be a good one for spectators to watch, with competitors coming back through the arena about a third to half through their course.
Australia sent out its two best teams and despite the men’s results and even with the benefit of hindsight, there was no suggestion that different teams or sequences should have been used.
Jo Allison led out for the Australian women, and was going well after her first loop and came back in sixth place just ahead of Finn Paula Haapakoski. Tracy Bluett had a slightly better time than Jo, but although she recorded the sixth fastest time, the team dropped to seventh because Finland’s Heli Jukkola passed her. Both Jo and Tracy were happy with their runs, and felt that they could not have done much more on the day (see photo of a determined Tracy heading to the finish).
Hanny Allston went out in seventh place followed by a very determined Heather Monro (Great Britain), who was keen to pick up some of the placings that their first runner had dropped. While Hanny was relatively satisfied with her run, she said that she made a few costly navigational errors due to tiredness. She finished in 8th place overall with the 11th fastest time for the third leg. In July, she put in four outstanding runs at the World Junior Championships and in the past eight days, she has run in five gruelling races, three in last four days, so it was not surprising that she might be a little drained.
At the President’s Conference a number of the top nations complained that there was not enough gap between the World Games and the World Championships. The gap between JWOC and WOC was the same as between the WG and WOC, and the races at JWOC would have been much more demanding, so by any measure Hanny’s performances in the past five weeks have been outstanding. New Zealand was very happy with its ninth placing, their best for sometime.
The women’s race was won by the Swiss to give Simone Niggli her second set of four gold medals. The way she reeled in the leaders during the first loop of the third leg was incredible and she looks like being at the top for a long time, unless she decides to retire or take time out to have children.
As for the Australian men’s team, to quote David Brickhill-Jones, “I stuffed it. I had a reasonable first loop, a few minor mistakes but nothing serious. But I stuffed the first control on the second loop and from there on I was never in it.” From the best I can ascertain, he was heading for control 327 (at the southern end of a dry water course) and he stopped one short, after counting an unmapped gully on his way to the control. He finished his leg in 18th place, in 54 min 35 sec about 9 minutes behind the leaders.
Troy de Haas was the second leg runner and had a steady first loop. I did not talk to Troy after his run but I understand on the second loop he took an adventurous route choice to try to catch up some time and placings. It did not come off and he finished 11th fastest and in 16th place overall.
I also did not get to talk to third leg runner Grant Bluett who had a steady run of 49 min 47 sec and 13th fastest on the leg to bring Australia into 15th place, the lowest men’s placing since 17th in the Czech Rep in 1991. No doubt they would be disappointed with the result.
The men’s race was won by Norway, thanks to a good start by Holger Hott Johansen and anchor leg by Jorgen Rostrup. The French, with Thierry Gueorgiou as their anchor looked like winning gold, but Gueorgiou was no match for Rostrup. During a post race interview, Rostrup said that he took it easy on the first loop and applied the pressure on the second loop. He was 28 seconds clear of Gueorgiou at the finish (see photo of Holger Hott Johansen cracking open a bottle of champagne to celebrate his team’s win).
In the final wash up of the 2005 World Championships, the objectives set four years ago of a medal and top six in both relays were not achieved, but there were a number of positives:
· Hanny Allston set a new best ever result for an Australian at WOC and for a foot orienteer from outside of Europe with her sixth in the long distance final. Apart from being the first foot orienteer from outside of Europe to be on the podium for an individual race, she is probably one of the few juniors from anywhere to enjoy that honour.
· Troy de Haas set a new best result for an Australian in a sprint distance final with his seventh.
· Tracy Bluett set a new best result for an Australian in a middle distance final with her 13th.
· Julian Dent made one of the best (if not the best) debut run with his 22nd in the middle distance final.
· The women’s team recorded another benchmark performance in a relay (their fourth)
The IOF Council made a number of decisions yesterday, including:
· 2008 JWOC – Sweden.
· 2008 WMOC – Portugal.
· 2006 WOC – Micro-orienteering will be included with the middle distance final. I hope to be able to show a video of using micro-orienteering at the Nordic Championships during the Australian Championships carnival.
This has probably been the final WOC for a number of people, including yours truly.
1. Switzerland 2:07:45
2. Norway 2:09:28
3. Sweden 2:10:35
8. Australia 2:21:11
9. New Zealand 2:26:06
1. Norway 2:16:47
2. France 2:17:15
3. Switzerland 2:17:48
15. Australia 2:34:42
18. NewZealand 2:41:23