Tuesday, August 9, 2016

World University Orienteering Championships recap

The World University Orienteering Championships took place last week in Miskolc, Hungary. There were athletes from 34 nations competing in 5 back to back  day of races. Canada was represented by Pia Blake, Emma Sherwood, Damian Konotopetz, Eric Kemp, Robert Aderson, Robert Graham, and me (Adam Woods).

The Sprint was my favorite of the 5 races. It featured a maze of uncrossable stone walls that were nigh impossible to navigate through at speed. I was proud to make it through the complex session without any significant time loss and finished in 68th, just behind Damian in 65th and Robert Anderson in 67th.

The Long was the race most of team Canada struggled on. Though long (14km for guys, 10 km for women) and hilly (655m and 420m climb respectively) it featured lots of beautiful white forest. Pia Blake had a tough race; She’d wrapped her ankles slightly too tight, but didn’t start feeling it until the race had started. Congrats to her for suffering though it for the 2:10:54 it took her to complete the course.

The third race was the exciting Sprint Relay, which delivered another unique and challenging sprint course. There were man made barriers and passageways through building you’d normally never have access to. There were over 50 volunteers out on course ensuring these passageways remained passable for the competitors. Emma Sherwood ran what she considers to be her best international race and managed to overtake the Japanese athlete who she’d started behind. However, though I really enjoyed the course, my race had multiple errors, including my failure to notice the short 12-13 leg. Emma’s triumphant sprint down the finish chute was ruined when the announcer casually mentioned that the Canadian team had mispunched.

The Middle distance race was much more successful for Canada.  In contrast to the mostly white forest of the long distance, the Middle distance map was varying shades of green. However, though the forest looked nasty on the map, Damian correctly assumed that strait would normally be the fastest route choice. Sticking straight, and running fast resulted in a 30th place finish for Damian. Eric Kemp also ran a very strong race. Unfortunately, he was caught by a course setter’s trap. He was on the fastest route to his control, and only 30m away from the pit he was supposed to find when he came across the far more obvious women’s control. He was so close that he caused a New Zealand athlete to make the same error and a third member of the pack was flabbergasted to find they had mispunched.

The final race was the traditional 3 person Relay. Damian, Eric and Robbie Anderson formed Canada’s only official relay team, while the other Canadian athletes ran on mixed nationality relay teams. Robbie Anderson had good third leg to bring home the Canadian relay team to a 22nd place finish among the official teams. Similarly, Robbie Graham had an impressive third leg run to bring the MDA-CAN mixed team in 9 min ahead of team Canada. (Thanks to Roman Ciobanu from Moldova for sending out the MDA-CAN team in 8th after the first leg).

Finally, I would be remiss to avoid mentioning the Coaches Race. Patrick Saile followed the athletes’ instructions and pulled ahead of the other coaches off the start, arriving at the start flag in second place. He had the loudest supporters on the run-through, was supplied with sports drink and thoughtfully cooled down by large quantities of water. Though Patrick was unable to complete the course faster than world champions Simone Niggli-Luder and Ida Bobach, he had an impressive finish sprint. Flanked by Eric and I waving Canadian flags, Patrick crossed the finish line to chants of “CANADA, CANADA” from the Swiss team.

The Wold University Orienteering Championships in Hungary featured beautiful white forest and some of the most interesting sprint courses I’ve had the privilege to run. Thanks to all the organizers, volunteers and the city of Miskolc. The memories of WUOC 2016 will stick around a long time, motivating me to prepare for the 2018 WUOC in Finland.
Good luck to Damian Konotopetz, Eric Kemp, Robert Aderson at the Canadian team trials!



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