Midges, mountainous contours, marshes and moorland – it was a long, long day at the long distance, during which the three Team NZL runners, despite early wobbles, stuck to their task to finish in fine style across the open hillside west of the arena. Both men’s and women’s courses featured very long legs – one of 2.5k – for which the route choice and execution was critical. There were also a few strings of very close controls designed to challenge tired minds and legs. To complicate matters for the later runners, Matt’s bus to the pre-start became stuck on the narrow track forcing competitors to walk the last 1.5k of the trip, and meaning that the later starters (including Lizzie) had their start times delayed by 20 minutes.
Laura with a relatively early start was the first of the three Kiwis to descend from the heights, still running strongly and, ultimately, only narrowly missing finishing 40th in all three races sprint, middle and long! Matt, who firmly, and probably correctly, believes that the long distance requires a build-up of several years before it can be attempted with confidence, was next, grimacing as he ran down the chute. Lizzie, the last of the three, came into view chasing a leading group including Tove Alexandersson and middle distance champion Annika Billstam and was surprised that, having being caught by them some time previously, they were still so close. All three were relatively satisfied with their runs but absolutely shattered from the effort.
After 15+k of the men’s race things came down to the last kilometre as the amazing Thierry Guergiou of France defended his title from 2014, winning the long distance for the fourth time. Thierry’s winning margin of 25 s of the middle distance champion Daniel Hubmann was carved out over the final stages after the two had been neck and neck at the 2/3 way point. Olav Lundanes finished 3rd to make the top three a repeat of 2014 in Italy. In the women’s race Denmark won their fourth gold medal (all from the women) when ida Bobach came home with a margin of nearly 3 minutes on Mari fasting of Norway, with Svetlana Mironova of Russia in 3rd.
So, once again WOC is over for another year. We will need a full review, but first impressions are overall a very successful one. Four qualifiers for the sprint final, highlighted by Tim’s 20th place, excellent performances from Lizzie and Matt in the middle, solid WOC debuts for Laura and Renee, and great results in all the relays. The bonus being promotion for the men from Group 3 to Group 2 for 2016.
1.Thierry Guergiou (FRA) 99-46, 2. Daniel Hubmann (SUI) 100-11, 3. Olav Lundanes (NOR) 100-43, 4. Frederic Tranchard (FRA) 101-26, 5. Fabian Hertner (SUI) 101-44, 6. Matthias Kyburz (SUI) 102-21, 46. Matt Ogden (NZL) 127-54.
1. Ida Bobach (DEN) 75-35, 2. Mari Fasting (NOR) 78-19, 3. Svetlana Mironova (RUS) 78-39, 4. Tove Alexandersson (SWE) 78-46, 5. Natalia Vinogradova (RUS) 79-01, 6. Catherine Taylor (GBR) 79-36, 28. Lizzie Ingham (NZL) 92-01, 42. Laura Robertson (NZL) 104-53.