The World Middle Distance Championships was held at Bortnychi, Ukraine, today with gold medals going to Simone Niggli (SUI) and Thierry Gueorgiou (FRA). A strong showing by the Australian Boomerangs: Hanny Allston finished 13th, Grace Elson 32nd and Julian Dent 24th.
The sandy forest, with lots of negative contour detail, made for a technically difficult race and a large spread between the runners. Furthermore, visibility was reduced due to areas of young trees and long grass made it a physically tough race. The long grass made for a big advantage for later runners, with tracks forming in the forest; but this meant little to Minna Kauppi (FIN) who set the early pace with a fast time of 34:17, and led for much of the day. She eventually finished 4th after Niggli claimed her 11th gold medal at World Championships level.
The technically difficult start claimed many scalps, including Jo Allison, who made some uncharacteristically large mistakes early on, and couldn’t recover, ending up 44th. Grace Elson started strongly, and while she faded slightly in the final, short, loop had a solid day to finish 32nd, 13 minutes off the lead. Australia’s leading orienteer, Hanny Allston, showed her strength in this terrain, and finished in 13th place, 7 minutes behind Niggli. Allston will now try to recuperate in time for tomorrows Long Distance final.
The mens race followed a very similar pattern — another Finn, Tero Fohr, led for a long time, only to be beaten at the end of the day. Gueorgiou dominated the race, pulling out 40 seconds in the first 13 minutes, ultimately winning by 2 minutes. Australia had one qualifier in Julian Dent, who started slowly, but made ground during the course to finish well in 24th place.
1. Simone Niggli Switzerland 32:13
2. Heli Jukkola Finland 33:18
3. Marianne Andersen Norway 34:14
13. Hanny Allston Australia 39:19
32. Grace Elson Australia 45:42
36. Tania Robinson New Zealand 46:48
44. Jo Allison Australia 57:56
1. Thierry Gueorgiou France 32:21
2. Tero Fohr Finland 34:22
3. Valentin Novikov Russia 34:30
24. Julian Dent Australia 38:11
37. Ross Morrison New Zealand 42:35