The Men’s Middle Distance World Championships was a tight race between several of the hot favourites in Stromstad, Sweden. Most of the top runners limited their mistakes, but route choices to avoid the steep rock-faces and thicker forest were the key to finishing in the fastest time.
Daniel Hubmann (SUI) took an early lead, but a small mistake at #16 relegated him to the bronze medal; his 21st medal at World Championships! Olav Lundanes (NOR)took a round about route choice to #4, but he made this up with the best route going straight through the paddock to 17 to take the lead. He was still in front at #21, but then lost some time, and the gold medal, by going straight through the green to #22. Matthias Kyburz (SUI) won the race to add to his 2016 European Championship Middle victory, and Silver in the WOC Sprint on Saturday. Kyburz took the best route choice when it mattered on the deciding leg to control #22, earning his 4th World Championship gold medal.
7 time Middle Distance Champion, Thierry Gueorgiou (FRA), lost some time taking a wider right route choice to #12, and was never quite able to get back into the medals, finishing in 4th place. Having not won the Middle World Championship since 2011, this may have been his last attempt.
Australia’s only male competitor, Julian Dent, had a solid race to finish in a strong 44th place out of 76 starters. He took a wider left route to #4, and then had some trouble with #5. Dent was then able to spend a lot of the race with the Polish runner, Pawlak, and work his way back through the field ahead of New Zealand’s Tim Robertson (48) and Toby Scott (52).
In the women’s race, Canadian, Emily Kemp, held the lead for much of the afternoon. It was not until the top seeds reached the final loop that she was challenged. Kemp changed her mind exiting control 18, and then tired in the last km. Heidi Bagestvold (NOR) was the first to set a new best time, taking the lead with a fast track route choice to 21. Natalia Gemperle (RUS) finished strongly, but didn’t take the fast track route, and finished behind Bagestevold to take 2nd. Tove Alexandersson (SWE) lost time at #3, but was too fast for everyone else and won by 35 seconds. Remarkably this is her first ever WOC gold medal after dominating most international orienteering events in the last 2 or 3 years.
Vanessa Round had an excellent run, taking the early lead and holding it for some time. She eventually finished 36th. In her comeback to World Championships, Jo Allison started well and finished in a solid 45th place out of 66 starters.
All results, maps, splits and GPS tracking can be found here*.