July has seen an explosion of international events. This includes not only JWOC but also WUOC, EYC, WMOC and WMMTBOC. Notwithstanding some excellent JWOC results it has also seen New Zealand win no less than an unprecedented 6 gold medals! Reports, in chronological order, on all these below, plus Kiwis at O-Ringen 2018, and a quick look ahead for the main event of August – WOC.
European Youth Championships
The European Youth Championships actually started on 29 June and, although entries were not an official NZL team, formed an important part of the JWOC preparation for many of that team. Held in Bulgaria the event has men’s and women’s 16 and 18 classes and started with the relay. Given the mix of those attending there was only one New Zealand team, in W18, with Jenna Tidswell, Marisol Hunter and Briana Steven coming in 14th in the large field of 34 teams a shade over 15 minutes behind the Swedish winners.
The two individual events were a sprint and a long distance. Best result in the sprint was Jenna Tidswell’s 23rd place behind Csilla Gardonyi of Hungary who went on to star in JWOC in her home country. In the long distance Jenna was again the highest Kiwi placegetter with 20th in W18, although Kaia Joergensen in W16 also produced an excellent result. Interestingly, in the long distance, in very green and hilly terrain, all 4 titles went to the Finns who make a point of using this as early preparation for those who will attend JWOC in future years. Special mention should be made of WUOC-bound Marina Comeskey who, to accommodate the maximum number of 4 in W18, opted to run in M18 – no doubt an interesting experience.
M16: 1. Tuoko Seppa (FIN) 10:18, 57=. Will Tidswell 13:10.
W16: 1.Megan Keith (GBR) 10:14, 40. Kaia Joergensen 12:38, 59. Jessica Sewell 13:49.
M18: 1. Aston Key (AUS) 11:58, 94. Marina Comeskey 17:05.
W18: 1. Csilla Gardonyi (HUN) 11:52, 23. Jenna Tidswell 13:47, 44. Briana Steven 14:32, 49. Meghan Drew 14:49, 60. Marisol Hunter 15:18.
M16: 1. Tuoko Seppa (FIN) 41:08, 39. Will Tidswell 53:11.
W16: 1. Liisa Peltonen (FIN) 40:16, 26. Kaia Joergensen 50:16, 47. Jessica Sewell 56:19.
M18: 1=. Mikko Eerola (FIN) 53:31, 1=. Sander Arntzen (NOR) 53:31, 99. Marina Comeskey 1:27:44.
W18: 1. Ida Haapala (FIN) 50:03, 20. Jenna Tidswell 57:54, 44. Briana Steven 1:05:32, 46.Marisol Hunter 1:06:17, 60. Meghan Drew 1:09:24.
World Masters MTBO Championships
The World masters MTBO Championships were held in Hungary also over the end of June, beginning of July. In probably the most impressive series of results ever by a Kiwi, Marquita Gelderman won gold in every single race in the W50 class – mass start, sprint, middle and long distance! Additionally, Rob Garden took silver in the mass start and long distance, and bronze in the middle. Seven medals in one international event is certainly the most successful results ever seen by New Zealand runners/riders!
After the long build-up of two sets of trials, Queen’s Birthday, EY Championships and other overseas experience JWOC2018 in Kecskemet, Hungary finally arrived in the first week of July. Unusually, this year the week of events started with the long distance rather than the sprint. Having spent well over a month in Europe in preparation, the prime result came from Lara Molloy who finished in 31st place and who, apart from the middle distance, was to have an excellent week all-round. Joseph Lynch also produced an great result in finishing 45th in the men’s field. Both Lara and Joseph, in large fields, were only just over 10 minute behind the silver medallists. In the women’s race Marisol Hunter, Briana Steven, Meghan Drew and Katie Cory-Wright showed excellent packing to all finish between 74th and 84th, covered by just over 2 minutes. Max Griffiths was second best man finishing in 70th place.
The women’s race was won for the second year in a row by Simona Aebersold of Switzerland who, at the beginning of May, also took the bronze medal in the middle distance at the elite European Championships and World Cup Round 1. Local favourite Zsofia Sarkozy was a surprise silver medallist, while third placed Tereza Janosikova moved up from finishing 7th at JWOC2017. Men’s winner was Norwegian Kasper Fosser with Mathieu Perrin of France, improving 4 places from 2017, ahead of Czech Republic’s Daniel Vandas.
Men: 1. Kasper Fosser (NOR) 69:25, 2. Mathieu Perrin (FRA) 73:46, 3. Daniel Vandas (CZE) 75:02, 45. Joseph Lynch 84:33, 70. Max Griffiths 89:57, 108. Daniel Monckton 97;37, 126. Will Tidswell 104:54, 129. Callum Hill 105:42, Cameron de L’isle mp
Women: 1. Simona Aebersold (SUI) 54:37, 2. Zsofia Sarkozy (HUN) 59:40, 3. Tereza Janosikova (CZE) 60:33, 31. Lara Molloy 69:53, 74. Marisol Hunter 77:13, 76. Briana Steven 77:30, 81. Meghan Drew 78:21, 84=. Katie Cory-Wright 79:24, 99. Jenna Tidswell 82:39
Holding the sprint the day after the long distance potentially causes problems in terms of recovery, especially if the long distance has been particularly arduous. In any event, Joseph showed no such problems and produced another wonderful run to finish in 15th equal place. His time of 16:35 was just over 45 seconds behind Colin Kolbe of Germany who was a surprise winner. The British strength at sprint orienteering was reflected in Matthew Fellbaum edging out Finn Otto Kaario and Norway’s Kasper Fosser by 1 second for the silver medal. Cameron de L’Isle (55th), Max (67th) and Daniel Monckton (72nd) all also finished in the top half of the large field.
In the women’s race Simona Aeborsold followed up her gold in the long distance with her fourth successive gold medal in the JWOC sprint! Tereza Janosikova, having won bronze in the long, added a silver, while host nation Hungary won its second medal with Csilla Gardonyi, followed up her EYC gold, with the JWOC bronze. Once again Lara was the top Kiwi in 46th place, with Marisol and Jenna also finishing in the top half of the women’s field.
Men: 1. Colin Kolbe (GER) 15:48, 2. Matthew Fellbaum (GBR) 15:56, 3=. Otto Kaario (FIN) 15:57, 3=. Kasper Fosser (NOR) 15:57, 15=. Joseph Lynch 16;35, 55. Cameron de L’Isle 17:42, 67. Max Griffiths 18:06, 72=. Daniel Monckton 18:17, 96. Callum Hill 18:53, 129. Will Tidsell 20:38.
Women: 1. Simona Aebersold (SUI) 15:35, 2. Tereza Janosikova (CZE) 16:01, 3. Csilla Gardonyi (HUN 16:37, 46. Lara Molloy 18:42, 64. Marisol Hunter 19:14, 71. Jenna Tidswell 19:25, 79. Briana Steven 19:37, 97. Katie Cory-Wright 20:34, 107. Meghan Drew 21:07.
Both men’s and women’s courses had some incredibly intricate parts exemplified by a section on the women’s course where 3 controls, close together in distance, required careful map-reading to choose the routes between underpasses, bridges and stairs. Watching people negotiating the routes between 5 and 8 on live-tracking was fascinating.
The JWOC middle distance is the only race a JWOC with a qualification and four Kiwis – Max, Cameron, Joseph and Katie made it through this to the A finals. The finals proved a little controversial as they used, as described by the organizers, “the infamous green maze”, an incredibly complex area of yellow and green with no direct routes. In fact this was regarded by some as too complex an area and there were clearly many problems for many athletes. Prime amongst these was double gold medallist from the long and the sprint Simona Aebersold who, amid the complexity, missed following a compulsory marked route and was disqualified.
The four Kiwis all finished in the 40’s (out of 60 finalists) in the respective men’s and women’s fields. In the men’s race in which Swedes finished 1-2-3, Max, Cameron and Joseph were very closely grouped in 41st, 42nd and 44th places respectively. In the women’s field Katie finished similarly in 42nd place.
Men: 1. Jesper Svensk (SWE) 29:22, 2. Simon Imark (SWE) 29:49, 3. Henrik Johannesson ( SWE) 30:08, 41. Max Griffiths 39:40, 42. Cameron de L’Isle 40:17, 44. Joseph Lynch 42:21.
Women: 1. Csilla Gordanyi (HUN) 28:59, 2. Sanna Fast (SWE) 29:07, 3. Barbora Chaloupska (CZE) 29:25, 42. Katie Cory-Wright 41:14.
In the B finals Briana (10th), Jenna (11th) and Marisol (17th) all had good runs which put them well into the top half of the field overall. The same was true for Will Tidswell who finished 24th in the men’s B final.
The final race of JWOC2018 produced both disappointment and two more excellent runs from team NZL. In the men’s relay Joseph got the top Kiwi team off to a great start bringing them in to the changeover in 16th place less than 3 minutes down on leaders France. Unfortunately Max, on leg 2, picked up the wrong map and went down as one of 6 mis-punches, leaving NZL1 unplaced. The second men’s team of Will, Callum and Daniel were well off the pace finishing in 42nd place. Star of the relays for New Zealand, however, was Lara, running the anchor leg for the top women’s team. Lara, taking over from Marisol and Katie, started the longer final leg in 33rd place, but powered through the field picking off those in front to gain an amazing 14 places, bringing NZL1 into 19th place. In doing so she ran the 7th fastest time on leg 3 – quicker even than double gold medallist Simona Aeborsold! Truly one of the best runs seen in a JWOC relay by a Kiwi. Unfortunately, the second women’s team suffered the same fate as the top men’s team, with Meghan mis-punching on the first leg.
Men: 1. Norway 1 1:40:13, 2. Sweden 1 1:42:40, 3. Czech Republic 1 1:45:33, 42. New Zealand 2 2:17:48 (Will Tidswell 41:32, Callum Hill 43:33, Daniel Mockton 52:43), New Zealand 1 mp (Joseph Lynch, Max Griffiths, Cameron de L’Isle)
Women: 1. Russia 1 1:44:44, 2. Czech Republic 1 1:45:52, 3. Norway 1 1:46:34, 19. New Zealand 1 2:02:10 (Marisol Hunter 42:29, Katie Cory-Wright 41:32, Lara Molloy 38:09), New Zealand 2 mp (Meghan Drew, Briana Steven, Jenna Tidswell)
Although more detailed analysis will no doubt follow, with a young team of whom8 athletes were attending JWOC for the first time, JWOC2018 was relatively successful. Although there were no medals and no top 10 finishes, when looked at from the criterion of athletes aiming to finish in the top half of the field in at least one of the individual events, the results were good. JWOC actually has an overall team competition and NZL’s results were reflected in the team finishing 12th out of 36, with only GBR of the English speaking nations ahead in 9th. So well done to all and thanks to Karen and Devon Beckman for managing and coaching so effectively.
As reported on the web there was also a gold medal for Gillian Ingham in the W60 sprint at WMOC in Copenhagen. Other top 10 performances came from Ann Scott (8th in W80 sprint), Marquita Gelderman (5th in middle, 8th in long in W50), and Ross Brighouse (9th in M70 long). Although the introduction of a middle distance into WMOC was welcomed by nearly all, the promotion/relegation system which went with it was highly controversial. Essentially, the single forest qualification race qualified people for the A final in both the middle and long distance, except that the bottom 25% in the middle distance final were then relegated to the B final for the long being replaced by the top 25% from the B final etc. One example of what happened is that in the W60A middle final 3 of the top 10 qualifiers made mistakes and ended being relegated. The system is now under review…..
It was also good to see several members of the NZL team for the World University Championships running the public races at WMOC and supporting the masters.
The World University Championships were held in Kuortane, Finland from 17-21 July and consisted of sprint, sprint relay, middle, long and relay. Notwithstanding the fact that there is now an upper age limit for WUOC, it probably remains the strongest field outside WOC and the World Cup, with many international elites who do not make their respective WOC teams in the field.
Pride of place for NZL went to Tim Robertson who added a WUOC sprint gold to his two from JWOC and his growing list of accomplishments. Tim’s margin of victory of nearly 8 seconds was relatively comfortable in terms of sprint orienteering at this level and there was a massive further gap of another 16 seconds back to 3rd. Hopefully this bodes well for WOC. Unfortunately the other Kiwis found the pace a bit hot and were well down the field.
Men: 1. Tim Robertson 14:44.2, 2. Trond Einar Moen Pedersli (NOR) 13:52.1, 3. Henry McNulty (AUS) 14:08.3, 77. Jonty Oram 16:52.7, 90. Kieran Woods 17:40.2.
Women: 1. Virag Weiler (HUN) 13:48.3, 2. Martina Ruch (SUI) 13:48.8, 3. Aleksandra Hornik (POL) 13:58.8, 76. Heidi Stolberger 18:10.9, 83. Tegan Knightbridge 20:41.9.
The sprint was actually the third race at WUOC, being preceded by both the sprint relay and the middle distance. The sprint relay was not an auspicious start for NZL with the team of Heidi Stolberger, Jonty Oram, Kieran Woods and Marina Comeskey coming 21st of the 23 teams.
Sprint Relay: 1. Switzerland 56:55, 2. Poland 57;42, 3. France 57:53, 21. New Zealand 1:11:19,
In the following day’s middle distance Tim was the top performer, just missing out on the top 10 after starting strongly but dropping time through the middle part of the course in a race completely dominated by the Scandinavians.
Men: 1. Aleksi Karppinen (FIN) 36:14, 2. Paul Sirum (NOR) 36:21, 3. Havard Haga (NOR) 36:32, 11. Tim Robertson 39:25, 60, Jonty Oram 57:27, 73. Kieran Woods 1:09:10.
Women: 1. Emma Bjessmo (SWE) 37:32, 2. Marie Olaussen (NOR) 38:51, 3. Johanna Oberg (SWE) 38:53, 58. Tegan Knightbridge 1:05:47, 69. Marina Comeskey 1:16:16, 76. Heidi Stolberger 1:26:07.
Following his sprint victory Tim decided to by-pass the long distance in an area replete with knolls, rocks, bare rock and marshes. For the first time in the week since the opening sprint relay, which they won, the Swiss challenged the Scandinavian domination with Jonas Egger taking the men’s title. Swiss were also 3rd and 4th in the women’s race. Again, however, it was a baptism of fire at this level for the Kiwis.
Men: 1. Jonas Egger (SUI) 1:11:23, 2. Paul Sirum (NOR) 1:11:54, 3. Havard Haga (NOR) 1:12:15, 67. Jonty Oram 1:44:15, 82. Kieran Woods 2:08:51.
Women: 1. Marie Olaussen (NOR) 1:13:18, 2. Johanna Oberg (SWE) 1:13:59, 3. Paula Gross (SUI) 1:15:48, 58. Marina Comeskey 1:48:39, 64. Heidi Stolberger 1:59:51, 73. Tegan Knightbridge 2:12:22.
The final event at WUOC was the relay. For the men Tim held 11th place after the first leg. Unfortunately Jonty then had his worst run of the week after which there was a lot of chasing to do. There was a gripping battle for the silver behind winners Norway, with Finland 1 holding out Switzerland and Finland 2 by 1 second. The latter two were given the same time and separated only by the finish official. In the women’s relay Heidi, Tegan and Marina were well back finishing just behind the second Australian team.
Men: 1. Norway 1:36:32, 2. Finland 1:36:55, 3. Switzerland 2:36:56, 38. New Zealand 2:58:09.
Women: 1. Norway 1:53:10, 2. Finland 1:53:23, 3. Switzerland 1:55:23, 30. New Zealand 2:58:11.
WUOC comes around only every second year. With so much focus on JWOC and WOC it tends to get little attention in New Zealand as a realistic goal behind these events and the World Cup. This perhaps results from the fact that most domestic university students are still of JWOC age and see that as their focus. However, WUOC is a high quality event that provides experience of top competition, particularly for those who are maybe on the fringes of WOC selection. There is probably a case for this event to be given a higher priority among our 20-23 year olds rather than being maybe regarded as a consolation for those who do not make JWOC and WOC teams.
Overseas….and so to WOC
With the final days of July the New Zealand team for WOC has been arriving and training in Latvia. Matt Ogden, Gene Beveridge and Tim Robertson have all had a week training in terrain before the move into the booked accommodation on July 28th. Gene, though, having picked up a bug while travelling, has been restricted so far to a few lighter sessions. Matt has now flown to Sweden for a few days rest before returning just before competition, while the rest of the team fly in over the next few days.
The accommodation, well out in the country midway between Riga, where the sprint events will be held, and Sigulda, the base for the forest races, is an old farmhouse boasting sufficient space for 15. The high temperatures being experienced in Europe mean that the in-house sauna is unlikely to be used, although the same cannot be said for the spa bath.
Apart from Gene, Matt and Tim, in terms of preparation Lizzie Ingham tested the extent of her post-operative recovery with a week of public races at WMOC, and Laura Robertson had a 6th and two 11th places in high quality fields at the Sprint Scotland series. Continuing her European trip following JWOC, Lara Molloy has been at O-Ringen and, of the 5 races in W20E, has had a top finish of 19th along with two other placings in the top half of a very large and strong field.
What are the prospects for WOC? Tim will certainly be aiming for at least the top 10 in the sprint, with hopes of a podium (top 6) finish. However, so will many other of the top sprinters, so it will still probably depend to a certain extent on the nature of the planning – favouring the speedsters or the more technical navigators. Laura will also be hoping to improve on her previous WOC sprint placings. The sprint relay team of Laura, Tim, Cameron de L’Isle and Lizzie possible gives NZL its best chance of a top 10 in this race since its inception in Italy in 2014 where we just missed out. Their preparation in Latvia means that the same is potentially true for Tim, Gene and Matt in the men’s relay. For the middle and long races Matt and Gene (assuming recovery from his bug) are probably close to top form, but in the expected high temperatures the long distance may be a battle of attrition. Among the women Lizzie looks in good shape for the middle where she has perennially done well, but the lack of background in her recovery may make the long a step too far.