The World Championships reached its conclusion on Sunday with the Long Distance bringing a close to the Championships on the rain-slicked slopes underneath the Turaida Castle.
Using the same arena as Thursday’s Relay, both races started far to the north, winding their way gradually across the river-valleys carved by the Gauja, before a passage for the arena and a final loop in the terrain which was used for the Relay discipline. There were also contrasting vague sections of terrain, which required a technique change from the slope-orientated navigation which featured predominantly on the courses, which brought an end to many of the favourites’ races.
Kamilla Olaussen of Norway, an early starter, had already been lighting up the timing splits by the time the first Brits entered the terrain. The quickest through the first TV control at 27 minutes into the course, Olaussen bucked the trend for late starters dominating the field, as her time stood strong. Charlotte Watson had a strong start to her run, and though she made some small slips, she lost less than many others. Jo Shepherd started just 4-minutes after Charlotte, but suffered more in the early going, missing the first control – a vague pit in a marsh. Both slotted into groups on the long leg to the 5th control taking advantages of those around them on what was one of the most pivotal legs on the course.
Behind them, Jess Tullie had started very strongly, spiking the first 4 controls, and was just a minute behind Olaussen at the 4th control, before a mistake on the long leg to 5 caused her to slip down the order. It would not be until the final starters that Olaussen’s time at the first split would be challenged. In the arena, she was leading by 17 minutes, but back in the terrain, Sabine Hauswirth of Switzerland bettered her time by 40 seconds. Jess had been caught by Olaussen’s teammate Andersen, who was pushing strongly into the second half of the course and was picking up places.
Elsewhere, Maja Alm had missed on the first control, causing her to start on the back foot, already 1 minute down on Tove Alexandersson. She stabilised though, but no-one was moving faster than Tove Alexandersson in the forest, who went through TV1 15 seconds faster than Hauswirth. At the first split, Alm was 37 seconds down on Hauswirth, with Natalia Gemperle – the Middle-Distance Champion – falling short 1.58 down. As they neared the arena passage, it was increasingly evident that it was turning into a two-horse race, with Alexandersson and Alm moving further clear of Olaussen and Hauswirth.
As Olaussen’s time in the finish was finally bettered by first Hauswirth, and then Gemperle, as fatigue had taken its toll on the Norwegian in the final stages of the course, the medal positions finally took shape. It was only Alm and Alexandersson who could take gold. Alm’s mistake on the first control would be costly though and, in the end, deny her a chance of gold, with Alexandersson consolidating her lead and holding a 1.30 advantage into the finish.
Photos by IOF/Matias Salonen
In the Men’s race, it was a similarly tight affair. The leader in the early going was Yury Tambasov of Russia, starting early and performing solidly throughout. His time wouldn’t stand up like Olaussen’s in the Women’s race though, and he would gradually fall down the order. Edgars Bertuks of Latvia would better Tambasov first and start posting splits which would give an indication of the leaders’ times. Hector Haines was the first British man into the forest, but had a scrappy start, missing the first two controls. Caught by Paulins of Latvia, he stabilised his race and drove the train over the next kilometres to the TV split.
Behind Hector, Alan Cherry was the second Brit onto the course, and nailed the start, hitting the first 5 controls cleanly. A small slip on the 6th but he was still on track for a good run. He would soon be caught by Oleksandr Kratov, one of the favourites for the medals. As the favourites started, Olav Lundanes started the fastest, already catching Martin Regborn of Sweden by the 7th control, and building a substantial lead on the lead leg to the TV control. Novikov of Russia would initially post a quicker time than Lundanes, but he would be blown away by the Norwegian’s time, who came through 1.46 quicker.
Through the arena for Hector, and he was moving better and better, though a couple of slips caused him to be caught by Tue Lassen of Denmark, who had moved into a position to challenge for an initial lead. Alan had been stuck with Kratov through the arena, but behind him, Ruslan Glibov, also of Ukraine, was building his speed for a strong finish. Through TV2 and Kratov was fastest but was almost immediately bettered by Glibov. Moving faster than anyone across the second half of the race, and smashed the later spits, Glibov went straight through the train of runners formed around Kratov, and only Alan was quick enough to go with the pace.
Hector broke clear of Lassen as they neared the finish, with the Dane coming into a new lead, but it was short-lived. Glibov entered the arena soon after, and it was a 10.11 lead for the Ukrainian. Out in the terrain, Gustav Bergman of Sweden (and Glibov’s club teammate during the domestic season) would post a faster time at the TV2 split but did not have enough in the final third of the race, just falling shy of the lead at the finish. It was clear by this stage that Olav Lundanes would take the gold, remaining strong throughout his run, and keeping his navigation error-free. The fight for silver was still on though, and Switzerland’s Fabian Hertner and Daniel Hubmann could both still challenge. Hubmann wouldn’t match the pace of Glibov though, and though he could beat Bergman, wouldn’t do enough for a medal as his teammate Hertner charged through the forest. A late error for Hertner would prove costly though, allowing Gibov to move clear and the Swiss having to settle for bronze – a well-deserved medal though, with the veteran who is retiring this year having never won a medal in the Long Distance.
Well done to all our athletes this week, you have done us all proud!
1 Tove Alexandersson Sweden 1:14:04 0:00
2 Maja Alm Denmark 1:15:31 +1:27
3 Sabine Hauswirth Switzerland 1:16:30 +2:26
25 Jessica Tullie Great Britain 1:36:05 +22:01
28 Charlotte Watson Great Britain 1:36:34 +22:30
31 Jo Shepherd Great Britain 1:38:07 +24:03
1 Olav Lundanes Norway 1:37:43
2 Ruslan Glibov Ukraine 1:40:20 +2:37
3 Fabian Hertner Switzerland 1:40:47 +3:04
26 Alan Cherry Great Britain 1:54:33 +16:50
32 Hector Haines Great Britain 1:57:18 +19:35
Read about the other days of competition:
World Orienteering Championships Sprint
World Orienteering Championships Mixed Sprint Relay - GB take 7th
World Championships Middle Distance - Street takes 13th
World Championships Relay - GBR Men take 6th