Sunday, August 2, 2015

WOC Sprints - Athlete's Perspective

You've seen the results, the maps, the GPS tracking, and this blog (of course), but what was this year's World Championships Sprint & Sprint Relay experience for the athletes like? Here's a bit of an update from Canada's athletes.

The Sprint

British housing estates. A community of houses that look exactly the same, designed in mildly illogical ways with pathways, passageways, parks, playgrounds and.... postboxes? The sprint qualifier was held in one such housing estate on the west side of the town of Forres. It was expected to be a very fast but potentially tricky sprint, given the similarity of the features and the multiple route choices for almost every leg. Throw in the variable of some wet grass and things were surprisingly tricky, particularly for a sprint qualifier.

Speaking about the qualifier Tori said, "It was a memorable occasion. As I lie awake at night, the visions of my race dance vividly in my mind like it was yesterday. Come to think of it, it was yesterday."

- Editor's note: The above quote was entirely fabricated as an incentive to receive real quotes from the athletes.

"There was a couple of route choice legs that you needed to decide on ahead of time, which proved to sometimes be difficult due to the intensity of the navigation and the speed at which the features came up while running. It was really important to stay on top of where you were because of how similar the buildings were. Unlike in North America, these neighborhoods are certainly not on a grid system, so it is a major adjustment from what we are used to."

Robbie added that "I wore my new wellies during the race today, and, in addition to being a great performance enhancer, they also looked way stylish. Everyone thinks I'm local"

- Editor's note: Possibly also not a true statement.

Robbie dominated the vaulting of the sketchy hay bale fence stairs that were featured in the sprint qualifier.
Every year, getting to the final of the sprint at the World Championships gets tougher and tougher. The caliber of the competition is getting so high that one has to be at the top of their game and be almost flawless in their execution. Although the team may not have had their best results this year, they plan on taking what they learned this year to try and improve for the future.

Emma made a solid WOC sprint debut!

Sprint Relay

Redemption time. After a less than optimal sprint the day before, the sprint relay was an opportunity for the team to try to improve on last year's result, with the same order as in Italy - Louise, Will, Damian, and Tori as anchor. The team is now significantly more experienced at Sprint Relays since 2014, having increased their international race experience from 0 to 1.

The sprint relay was held on the seaside town of Nairn. The start sent the runners straight out onto the beach for a quick and intense jaunt onto some mini sand-dunes before a complex town network with a few artificial fences in the mix. Another jump into the dunes and a bit of park as well made it a surprisingly varied sprint challenge.

Louise went first, and post-race said "I would have had a great start to the race, but the idyllic waterfront setting and my love of the movie 'Chariots of Fire' forced me to run in slow motion for the entire beach leg."

- Editor's note: This one is plausible, but also not true.

[D-flat major] Dun-dun-dun-dun-dun-dun-dun-dun-dun-dun (Photo by Ethan Childs)
"It was really cool to see how many people were out spectating, even in the random parts of the town. I did make a mistake in the first part of the course, where the intensity of the race and the forking made for some really difficult navigational challenges."

Damian, the team's third runner, had an especially strong leg, clawing back time on both the Australian and British teams, enough to make the stadium announcer refer to a "battle of the commonwealth".

"It was fun running with the Aussies and the Brits, and running with such strong teams is a great motivator to push that extra bit harder. The fake fences also added some interesting route choice options and I was pleased that made smart choices when they came up. It was a good mix of terrain between the dunes along the ocean to the tricky streets and the open parkland."

In the end, the team jumped four places from their 2014 result and were two minutes closer to the winner. This is an resounding improvement over last year and after the race enthusiasm was high for continuing to work hard to get better for next year. The sprint relay in Nairn was definitely an exciting event with great enthusiasm from all the spectators, a fun and interesting course, and fantastic scenery.

Damian and Will hammering. (photos by Ethan Childs)

Also, it didn't rain. Except for a bit in the warm-up. And for about three hours before the race. And after the race. But for that brief, shining hour....

Photo from WOC2015 Facebook Page


  1. Great post! Thanks Will. Love the quotes.

  2. Like the "Battle of the Commonwealth"! Good work team Canada!

  3. It was a lot of fun wandering the streets during the race, map in hand. Thanks for the great show!