[Updated map links!] Utterly unbelievable last legs seems to be the new standard in WOC relays in the mens class. Switzerland took the Gold in the mens relay and Norway in the womens relay of the WOC 2009 relay – but this race will not be remembered for who took the gold medals – but rather for the drama involving the four leading teams in the last leg of the mens race.
After Thierry Gueorgiou’s incident with the bee swallowing at WOC 2008 in Olomouc, Czech Republic – the Frenchman again got involved in a somewhat similar episode at the end of the last leg in this years relay. This time it was not Gueorgiou himself who got injured – but rather the Swede Martin Johansson who at that point in the relay was in the lead being pursued by Gueorgiou, Anders Nordberg (France) and Michal Smola (Czech Republic).
The three heroes of the day on the way to the spectator control after the incident.
10 cm into his leg
Johansson was running about 10 meters in front of Gueorgiou with Nordberg just behind when the Swede fell and was obviously in great pain. – When I hear Martin Johansson cry like a baby, I know something is wrong, Gueorgiou said after coming to the finish. It turned out Johansson had got a stick 10 cm into his leg. Gueorgiou, Nordberg – and Smola who came to the spot right after the three leading teams – stopped their races, and helped. Nordberg run for help, while Gueorgiou and Smola stayed with Johansson and helped him.
Not a real Gold medal
Meanwhile Matthias Merz – who didn’t know anything about the accident – with a clear and fast run got the victory. Thus Gold medals for Switzerland – but the medals didn’t taste as good as they normally do. France, Norway and Czech Republic finished the race after Johansson had been driven to the hospital – finishing around 30th place.
The other medals in the mens race went to Russia and Finland. You can replay all the drama in the LiveBlog at the bottom of this page – it is really worth a read!
Womens relay: Different kind of drama
After the very special events in the mens relay, the womens relay was also a very dramatic race – but here orienteering was in the focus as it should be in our sport.
Minna Kauppi started first on the last leg – and most thought that this would be another relay Gold for the Finnish girls, even if Marianne Andersen (NOR), Simone Niggli (SUI), Helena Jansson (SWE) and Dana Brozkova (CZE) followed within slightly more than two minutes.
Then came control number 5 shown below. This control meant real trouble for nearly all of the women teams in the lead. All women made mistakes here – and the nearly made a new mass start from this control with four teams: Finland, Norway, Sweden and Czech Republic. Poor Simone Niggli saw the others running away from the control, but just couldn’t find the control and kept searching for more than a minute after the others left.
Above: Control number 5 in the womens last leg. I was out checking the control after the race, and actually searched for between 5 and 10 minutes before finding it – all the time searching within 30-40 meters radius. In the end I gave up, and stumbled over the control just when I was leaving as I was sure the organizers had removed the control. Well hidden in the green – but approximately in the right place according to the map. The area was full of paths going back and forth – lots of runners had obviously been searching here…
After several mistakes from the runners – and also different routechoices by the top teams – in the remainder of the course (see GPS tracking, pay service), Marianne Andersen finally secured the victory for Norway. After six silver medals, Marianne Andersen finally got a Gold medal!
1. Switzerland 2:22:48
1.1 Baptiste Rollier 36:37
1.2 Daniel Hubmann 54:18
1.3 Matthias Merz 51.53
2. Russia 2:25:12
2.1 Dmitry Tsvetkov 34:54
2.2 Valentin Novikov 52:24
2.3 Andrey Khramov 57:54
3. Finland 2:25:14
3.1 Topi Anjala 36:03
3.2 Tero Fohr 54:52
3.3 Mats Haldin 54:19
1. Norway 2:13:10
1.1 Nilsen Betty Ann Bjerkrei 32:57
2.1 Hausken Anne Margrethe 50:19
3.1 Andersen Marianne 49:54
2. Sweden SWE 2:13:28
2.1 A.Höjsgaard Karolina 32:28
2.2 Nilsson Kajsa 50:01
2.3 Jansson Helena 50:59
3. Finland FIN 2:15:25
3.1 Holmström Bodil 33:33
3.2 Rantanen Merja 47:51
3.3 Kauppi Minna 54:01
4. Switzerland SUI 2:16:12
5. Czech Republic CZE 2:16:26
6. Russia RUS 2:20:10
Replay of the WOC 2009 action
Follow the WOC 2009 action through the World of O LiveBlog below. There is also a mobile version of the LiveBlog here.