After the hectic month of July, August has been (to be honest a bit of a break leading up to Round 3 of the World Cup in which Tim Robertson again showed his world class sprinting abilities. Unfortunately, as I was overseas at the time (and still am as I write this – hence why it is posted late) I did not watch it and have had to rely on the web for my information – so apologies if the report is a bit brief. But also there is another analysis of where we seem to be post-WOC/JWOC and Jonty Oram’s report on the O-Ringen academy.
World Cup Round 3 – Latvia
Latvia, as host for WOC2018, was the venue for the 3rd round of the IOF World Cup held at the end of August. This round consisted of a middle distance, a relay, and a sprint (qualifying and final). Coming relatively hard on the heels of WOC, and also clashing with O-Ringen, the only NZL representative was Tim Robertson.
The series started with a hilly and green middle distance which provided the first ever World Cup victory for Natalia Gemperle of Russia who, in a large field of 90 starters, took out the women’s race by 25 seconds from Sabine Hauswirth of Switzerland. World champions Tove Alexandersson was another 22 seconds behind in 5th place. The top 3 in the men’s race was a more familiar line-up with Olav Lundanes having a relatively comfortable margin over Matthias Kyburz and Gustav Bergman. Tim did not have the best of days coming in 94th some 13 minutes adrift.
Men: 1. Olav Lundanes (NOR) 35:57, 2. Matthias Kyburz (SUI) 36:41, 3. Gustav Bergman (SWE) 37;13, 4. Martin Regborn (SWE) 37:16, 5. Fredric Portin (FIN) 38:11, 6. Jonas Runesson (SWE) 38:18, 94. Tim Robertson (NZL) 49:05.
Women: 1. Natalia Gemperle (RUS) 38:56, 2. Sabine Huaswirth (SUI) 39:21, 3. Marika Teini (FIN) 39:47, 4. Helena Bergman (SWE) 39:51, 5. Tove Alexandersson (SWE) 39:53, 6. Anastasia Rudnaya (RUS) 39:56.
The intention had been for Tim to run in the relay with the 2 Aussie representatives, but in the end this did not eventuate, giving him a day rest before the sprint. A world cup relay is somewhat different to WOC in that nations are allowed more than one official team. This leads to some interesting racing, not only against others, but also against your own other teams. This was evidenced in the women’s relay with Finland placing all 3 teams in the top 6, but in reverse order of Fin3-FIN2-FIN1, but all behind an extremely close finish between Switzerland and Sweden!
Men: 1. Sweden 2 2:06:21, 2. Switzerland 1 2:07:29, 3. Russia 1 2:07:52, 4. Sweden 1 2:08:05, 5. Norway 1 2:10:14, 6. Norway 2 2:10:26.
Women: 1. Switzerland 1 1:43:35, 2. Sweden 1 1:43:36, 3. Finland 3 1:45:25, 4. Sweden 3 1:48:23, 5. Finland 2 :49:24, 6. Finland 1 1:49:46.
So to the sprint, where once again Tim rose to the occasion! With 15 to qualify from each of three heats, he cruised through in equal third place, before, producing another top 10 sprint result at a World Cup. Tim was just under 30 seconds down on Vojtech Kral of Czech Republic, who like Gemperle in the middle distance, won his first World Cup title ahead of some of the more favoured runners.
Men: 1. Vojtech Kral (CZE) 15:08, 2. Jerker Lysell (SWE) 15:13, 3. Matthias Kyburz (SUI) 15:15, 4. Martin Regborn (SWE) 15:26, 5. Frederic Tranchard (FRA) 15:28, 6. Gustav Bergman (SWE) 15:35, 8. Tim Robertson (NZL) 15:37.
Women: 1. Tove Alexandersson (SWE) 15:22, 2. Natalia Gemperle (RUS) 16:01, 3. Sabine Hauswirth (SUI) 16:04, 4=. Catherine Taylor (GBR) 16:10, 4=. Merja Rantanen (FIN) 16:10, 6. Gamina Vinogradova (RUS) 16:13.
Raising the bar
At this time of year, post WOC and JWOC (and this year the World Games), it is pertinent to consider how NZL performances fit into a desire for us to continually improve our standing on the world stage. Last year I made some comments in particular on how NZL performances at JWOC seemed to stack up over the years, and suggested that the women’s performances were behind the men in terms of placing, and considerably further behind relative to the top runners. Those figures have now been updated following JWOC2017 and are as follows.
(1) For the years 2011-2017, the number of men and women finishing in each quartile of the JWOC sprint field.
(2) For the years 2011-2017, the number of men and women qualifying for the JWOC middle distance final.
(3) For the years 2011-2017, the number of men and women finishing in each quartile of the JWOC long distance field.
Clearly the comments made last year still ring true. But, for comparison, how are we doing at WOC? Direct comparisons with JWOC are difficult because at WOC it is the sprint that has qualification and there are, of course, only 3 men and 3 women rather than 6 of each at JWOC. For the middle and long at WOC there has also, since 2014, been a quota system for each country such that, again, both the fields and the number of NZL athletes are much smaller. Indeed, a finish in the top 25% at WOC means you are in the top 20 in the men and about the top 15 in the women. So, how are we doing?
(1) For the years 2011-2017, the number of men and women qualifying for the WOC sprint distance final.
Clearly, in terms of the WOC sprint NZL women have been considerably more successful than the men. To emphasise this, the six final appearances by men come from only two individuals (Ross Morrison and Tim Robertson), while the 12 appearances by women represent four separate people (Lizzie Ingham, Greta Knarston, Imogene Scott, and Laura Robertson).
With the quota system I have considered only the years 2014-2017 for the middle and long distance races at WOC. This system will also apply for next year prior to the first “forest” WOC in 2019 when qualification for the middle distance will be reinstated.
(2) For the years 2014-2017, the number of men and women finishing in each quartile of the WOC middle distance field.
(3) For the years 2014-2017, the number of men and women finishing in each quartile of the WOC long distance field.
In this case the men’s middle distance results actually encompass 6 separate individuals, while 4 women contribute to the numbers. For the long distance 4 men and 4 women contribute. Not included are a DNF (Tim Robertson due to injury) and Nick Hann’s DSQ in this year’s long, bar which he would have been in the 2nd Quartile.
The comforting thing here is that, NZL men do seem to be improving their performances. Finishes in the top half of the field in the middle distance are not uncommon while in the long which, as Nick commented last month is by far the most physically tough race on the calendar, there appears to be improvement on the horizon. For the women, although on the face of it top half finishes are more common, in reality these all come from a single athlete (Lizzie Ingham), indicating that there is clearly a need, as also at JWOC, to develop more strength in depth in forest orienteering among the top women.
How do we achieve this? It seems likely that two things are required. The first is probably much improved physical preparation. I certainly have the sense that although among the top men there is little problem with this, the same is not true for many of the women – an issue, of course, which must also involve the balance between orienteering, work and the rest of life. Secondly it seems likely that we suffer from lack of experience in dealing with the intensity of competition that is encountered at WOC. While the first of these issues requires closer liaison and advice to individual athletes, especially, but not exclusively, in the run-up to WOC; the second can best be addressed both by training camps and by a restructure of the SuperSeries to try and make it more intense and competitive rather than simply something tagged on at individual events.
I turn again to thoughts of what can be done, particularly at camps such as the Under 23 camp, to emphasise that simply going to WOC or JWOC is not a satisfactory goal in itself, but that there needs to be a commitment to producing the best possible performance. What is required for this? The easiest metric to work with is one that can be constructed by looking at sprint races at WOC – particularly pertinent as the split between forest and sprint WOC is now only 2 years away.
To do this I have looked at the kilometre rates required to make the sprint final at WOC. The data used to calculate these are from sprint qualifications in 2013-2016, I deliberately excluded this year’s WOC sprint as it had rather exceptional climb and kilometre rates were very much outliers compared to previous years. I have converted the kilometre rates into a “sprint orienteering 3000m time” and then normalised this to an “equivalent” 3000m track time by comparing the recorded 3000m time trial times of the Swiss National Squad, which are published on the web, with their “O 3000m time”. Remarkably there is considerable uniformity – the time the leading Swiss take to do 3000m on the track is 85% of the time they typically take for 3000m in an orienteering sprint race!
So if you want to make a WOC Sprint Final these are the times you need to be able to do 3000m on the track in.
Men: 9 min 23 secs
Women: 11 min 36 secs
This of course also assumes an orienteering sprint race with no mistakes! To put this into context, the top Swiss men have 3000m times of between 8 min 30 secs and 8 min 45 secs, while the top women are running between 10 min and 10 min 15 secs for 3000m. At the most recent such time trial we have done here (the 2016 HP camp) the fastest senior man did 9 min 24 secs, and the fastest senior woman 11 min 32 secs, just on the cusp of being able to qualify for a WOC final.
The same kind of analysis for JWOC is a little harder as the top athletes vary from year to year and there are no comparable published 3000m time trial times for Swiss juniors. But looking at JWOC sprints from 2013-2017 and using the same conversion factor of 0.85, to make the top 25% in the JWOC sprint (approximately top 40 for men, top 35 for women – not, in my view a goal that is over ambitious) would require an athlete to be able to do the following 3000m times (and have a clean run).
Men: 10 min 51 secs
Women: 12 min 54 secs
At the 2016 HP camp 3 junior men actually bettered this target time, as did 2 junior women the women’s time. In contrast, however, at JWOC, although several men have made the top 25% of the field, no woman has since 2012, possibly indicating that although the speed may just be there, there is an inability to cope with the added pressure of international competition.
With these times in mind, such 3000m time trials are recommended to become a feature of all future training camps as we strive to improve our sprint performances. High intensity mass start sprint training will also feature as a means of preparing better for the sprint relay.
Coming up with similar metrics for forest races is not easy as, clearly, things like 3000m times on the track are not appropriate comparisons. Instead, given that our top men are generally performing quite well at WOC, it is instructive to look at the kilometre rates (average of the top 3 place getters) being run by the elite women and the top juniors relative to the M21E kilometre rates. These can then be compared to similar ratios from overseas. Thus, from the Oceania Long distance and the 2016 Queen’s Birthday (all sand-dunes) the average km rates for the top Junior Men (M20), Junior Women (W20) and W21E, as percentages of the top M21E km rate are shown below. Also shown are the same average percentages derived from this year’s O-Ringen.
Km rates as a % of M21E
W20: NZL – 146%, O-Ringen 130%
W21E: NZL -139%, O-Ringen 122%
M20: NZL -109%, O-Ringen 106%
Clearly, although relative to the top local men, our M20’s are doing almost well as their overseas counterparts, the same is not true for either the W20’s or the W21E’s. If the ratios are calculated for the W20’s as a % of the rates for W21E it becomes apparent that whereas overseas the top W20’s are running at 106% of the rate of the W21E’s, in NZL it is closer to 110%.
You may well see the thread of where this is going…One consequence of this, as perhaps intimated above, is that this year’s U23 camp will have a heavy emphasis on physical preparation for international competition. It is also planned that there will weekend camps in the first part of the year in all three main centres (Auckland, lower NI, and Christchurch) specifically targeted towards those preparing for JWOC. As someone once said “success is 10% inspiration and 90% perspiration”.
Jonty Oram and Cameron de L’Isle where two of a small group of Kiwis who were at O-Ringen at the end of July. However, as well as competing they attended the O-Ringen Academy. The aims of the Academy are formally stated as below.
“The aim of O-Ringen Academy is to assist the development of orienteering around the world. It does this by providing selected representatives from developing orienteering countries with education and training designed to help grow the sport in the countries concerned. Participants in the Academy will also receive training to develop their own individual skill levels in the sport.
Academy is a unique opportunity for orienteering federations and interested individuals to work on developing the sport in their home countries. The idea behind Academy is, through the transfer of knowledge and experience, to develop individual competency to be able to promote, organize and teach orienteering in your own country and at the same time participate in the world’s greatest orienteering event, O-Ringen.
Academy is primarily intended for participants from new and developing orienteering countries, where there is a need to quickly learn new skills and routines needed to organize orienteering events.”
Although we might possibly take issue with the idea that New Zealand is a “developing” country, as Jonty reports below, he and Cameron clearly took a lot from their attendance.
“Cameron de Lisle and I attended the O-Ringen Academy this year while competing in O-Ringen. O-Ringen Academy is organized by Park World Tour Travel and is aimed at developing orienteering countries, with a goal of sharing knowledge throughout the international orienteering community. Participants from 12 different countries across 5 continents were all staying at a boarding school near where the O-Ringen events were held. We had three days of trainings prior to O-Ringen and were coached by past Czech national team coach Jaroslav Kacmarcik and ex-world champ/absolute orienteering legend Jörgen Mårtensson. In the evenings after the events we had lectures from various guests. Etapp 1 winner and 2x WOC Relay champ Magne Daehli talked about his race that day and general approach to training and orienteering (he likes to run straight a lot). IOF general secretary Tom Hollowell talked about the IOF’s vision for the future, which involves an increased emphasis on media and especially television coverage on high profile events. We also had the organizer of O-Ringen 2020 in Uppsala talk about what is required to organize an event the size of O-Ringen. It was great to get to know some orienteers from around the world and chat about different aspects of orienteering. I think the environment had a positive effect on my performance in the O-Ringen races, and I had five stable runs to finish19thoverall in H21-1, out of a field of 110. Overall, a great experience, and really eye-opening to how orienteering is done internationally.”
Pinestars for Australia
Congratulations to the following who have been selected for the New Zealand Pinestars to race against the Australian Bushrangers at the Australia Champs Carnival in and around Bathurst at the end of September.
M21E: Duncan Morrison, Matt Ogden, Cameron Tier
W21E: Renee Beveridge, Greta Knarston, Sarah O’Sullivan, Tessa Ramsden
M20: Cameron de L’Isle, Max Griffiths, Stephen Harding, Joe Lynch, Daniel Monckton, Kurtis Schuker
W20: Ellena Caldwell, Marina Comeskey, Katie Cory-Wright,, Meghan Drew, Marisol Hunter, Carolyne Nel, Briana Steven, Heidi Stolberger
This is the first selection for several of the 20’s, both men and women. Hopefully the firsts stepping stone to JWOC and beyond (bearing in mind the comments made earlier)!