The final two events of WOC 2014 in Italy were held in the same area, Campomulo. A region near Asiago with altitude above 1200m. The organisers choose a great area for the arena and it was the same for both events with some small changes to the runners directions. It promised to be a very good place for viewing both the big screens and also the run through and the finish. This was the case for the middle but unfortunately for the relay the day started out fine and sunny but by the time the men’s relay started the rain had set in and continued for the rest of the afternoon.
The middle was a very physical challenge for the athletes and the times indicated this. The women ran first and this time the seeded runners started last. Jasmine Neve was our first starter and finished in 55th place.
Hanny Allston was running well and came through the run through looking good. She eventually finished in a very good 15th place, 4:59 minutes down on the winner Annika Billstam (Sweden).
The mens field included Thierry Gueorgiou who has won more middle distance WQOC events than anyone else and after his win in the Long he was obviously feeling confident. Julian Dent was our sole runner and he was running well at the run through being the leader at that stage. He went out onto the very physical last section of the course looking a little tired. He eventually finished in equal 25th position only 5:42 minutes behind the winner. Julian got to sit in the second place chair for a while after he finished.
The fastest over the finish was Thierry Gueorgiou, from Olav Lundanes. Very quickly there was an announcement that Thierry Gueorgiou had been DSQ- the crowd went silent in surprise and then Olav Lundanes was confirmed as the winner of the middle. Julian was happy with his run and said that he was just not strong enough up the hills- “not enough hills in Sweden”.
The relay was always going to be a big day for a lot of countries given the new structure that the IOF have implemented for determining the numbers of runners each country will have in the middle and long distance events in 2015. This very much was influenced by the results in the relay as double points can be gained from the relay. The men needed a result similar to 2014 or better to ensure that they would have two runners next year. This was so particularly after Simon’s and Julian’s good performances in the long and middle. The women started first and were faced with a long uphill leg to the first controls. The field soon started to spread out due to the physical nature of the terrain and the forking. Jasmine was our first leg runner and she came to the finish in 14th position after a steady run which she felt good about. On the second leg Rachel Effeney was a last minute replacement for Vanessa Round who was still sick. A difficult position for Rachel to be in and she managed to finish in 23rd position. Hanny after her good performances in the long and the middle was feeling confident particularly due to the physical nature of the terrain. She had a very strong run and we finished in 16th position and running the 5th fastest time on her leg. Switzerland was a slender winner in the end after three teams were running the last loop together- Denmark, Sweden, Switzerland. Judith Wyder gaining enough lead over Maja Alm (Denmark) to avoid a sprint finish.
The men’s race started minutes after the women’s race was decided. Again they were faced with a long uphill leg to the first control. Simon Uphill was our first leg runner and were expecting Simon to stay in touch and he came into the finish in 17th place. Lachlan Dow went out to have a steady run and maintain our position as best he could and he had a very steady run to come into the finish in 22nd place close behind a pack of runners. In steady rain Julian went out on the third leg feeling quite confident after his performance yesterday in the middle. He was with a group of runners at the run through and he lead some runners into the last control and improved our position to 17th. This was enough for Australia to be one of the two top countries in division three of the IOF groupings and so we will qualify to have two runners in the middle and the long in 2015. This was a good day for our relay teams and means that we can start preparing to have more opportunities at WOC in 2015.
More detailed summary of our WOC performance will follow once time has been found to do some detailed analysis.