World University Orienteering Championships 2014

Last week the World University Orienteering Championships were held in Olomouc, Czech Republic, just 200 km away from Vienna.

Foto: Šimková
Opening Ceremony (Foto: Šimková)

The Austrian selection was divided into three rounds and I was lucky to qualify as best non-military student in the first by WOC selections. That meant I could focus more on training and didn’t need to take part in every selection race. At the same time I got the information that I wouldn’t run WOC in Italy which was a huge disappointment having trained specifically for it for more than one year.

However, after some weeks of frustration I was able to put all my effort on the new main goal for the season, WUOC.
I took the opportunity to visit a friend and traveled two days earlier than the rest of the team to adapt to the WUOC routines and meet the other participants. Arriving in Olomouc I knew that I had a good physical and technical shape. My goal was to perform on a high level and to beat my previous best result at WUOC (15th).

First competition was the Sprint relay and I expected our first leg runner Ursula to be in the leading group or close behind. She had a great run and handed over to me in 6th position. Perfect start but to the second control I chose the wrong route, got confused because of a too small gap between two hedges (on the map) and lost some seconds. The forking was very interesting; until the 10th control we had just three common controls so it was hard to know on which position you were. I kept a high speed through the rather rough open fields and on the final loop in the city and handed over as 10th. Julia and Henrik had decent runs and in a final sprint our last leg runner managed to keep the Bulgarian behind and we finished 14th. It was great to gain some experience in this new competition format.
Sprint relay map and results

Sprint Relay Team Austria: Henrik, Julia, Erik, Ursula
Sprint Relay Team Austria: Henrik, Julia, Erik, Ursula (Foto: Pacher)
WUOC Long (Foto: Fajkusová)
WUOC Long (Foto: Fajkusová)

Next day continued with the Long distance in a typical continental terrain in which I feel very comfortable in (= Wienerwald). It is the discipline in which I was supposed to run at the World champs. As expected the first control was very short followed by a long route choice to the second. I had to stop at the first control before continuing. Far left or right seemed too far so I decided for a little bit left and then more or less straight (the same route choice as the later winner Frédéric Tranchand). Next decisive route choice was after the arena passage to number 12. I planned it on the way to the spectator control but couldn’t decide. Eventually I chose to run around the biggest hill which turned out to be a mistake losing 1,5-2 min. The rest of the course was really good and fast legs in the end brought me to a 24th place, less than 3 min down to the 10th place.
Long distance map and results

Foto: Pacher
Approaching the spectator control (Foto: Pacher)

After a rest day filled with running the Middle model event and watching the Sprint it was time to compete again. The terrain for the Middle distance was very flat (6,9 km, 75 m climb) and it would be important to run as fast as possible in the white areas and slow down and focus on the orienteering in the green areas. The beginning was really good again but to the 9th control I messed it up. Knowing exactly on which path I were running on I misinterpreted the yellow area and had to relocate. Together with a direction error to control 19 it was the biggest time loss of the day. To control 17 and 21 I found some smaller runnable passages through the green area and had two top-3 splits. Of course it is not enough to just have an okay race on a Middle distance if you want to get a top position, as a result I had a decent 33rd place among the 111 participants.
(For all those still wondering about my missing bag from the Middle quarantine: I have got it back. ;-)
Middle distance map and results

Relay Start (Foto: Vambera)
Relay Start (Foto: Vambera)

The Relay competition concluded the competition week and I had the honor to run the first leg. The first controls went very well and I kept in touch with the leading group. Until the 9th control everything went as planned, the next one I passed without seeing it so I had to turn back. In this kind of terrain it’s nearly impossible to gain time on the fastest runners again. Nevertheless I managed to pass some runners and compared to the leading group I didn’t lose too much time. Our second leg runner did a good job and handed over to our anchor man who had the chance to challenge a top 10 result. Unfortunately it didn’t go as well as we all had hoped for and we finished on a 15th place.
Relay map and results

Before WUOC it was difficult to know how strong the start field would be and there were for sure a lot more competitive runners in this terrain than in Spain 2012. I’m mostly satisfied with how I performed during the week and enjoyed it.

Events like this are something to aim for and the next chance is at WOC in Scotland next year. I’ll be there.

WUOC Website

Highly desirable medals designed by Olympian Gabriela Soukalová (Foto: Fajkusová)
Highly desirable medals designed by Olympic Biathlon medalist Gabriela Soukalová (Foto: Fajkusová)

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