The WOC Long distance is the most important long distance race of the year, and therefore deserves an in-depth analysis. This comprehensive analysis of the Women’s race on WOC Long distance 2013 has been made based on spending nearly 2 hours with the course setter and several hours more with the GPS data and split times.
The women’s race is considered here as the route choice challenges worked a lot better in the women’s race than in the men’s race. In the men’s race there were smaller differences for the different route choice alternatives – partly because the men are stronger and run faster direct in the terrain. Also there was one long leg in which only one alternative was run. A separate analysis of the men’s race might follow later – there were some interesting points here as well.
Simone Niggli wins a very clear gold despite choosing the wrong route choice on the long leg to 11
The analysis is long with more details than most of the readers probably care about – therefore an overall conclusion here at the start.
- Simone Niggli wins a very clear gold despite choosing the wrong route choice on the long leg to 11 (loosing here nearly 2 minutes) – and despite a 50 second mistake on the last loop at control 19. The rest of her race is mostly excellent, just loosing some seconds due to uncertainty and safe route choices in a few places.
- Tove Alexandersson wins silver despite choosing the wrong route choice on the long leg to 11 (loosing here more than 2 minutes) . Her speed was not the same as Niggli’s (“- I did no big mistakes, but I was really tired early in the race, so I have really been fighting”), and gold was not really in her reach.
- Lena Eliasson wins a medal due to her fantastic execution on the long leg to 11 where she is 40 seconds faster than the second fastest. Eliasson did not really have the speed for gold in the rest of the course, but due to the great long leg she could still have manged gold if she had avoided the mistakes (1:20 to 14, 0:30 to 22, several smaller) and the passive running on the last loop and the long parth-route choices on some of the legs on the first loop (to control 2 and 7). However, the chances for doing more mistakes by going more direct on the first loop were bigger, and probably gold would have been impossible also for Eliasson on this day. Silver would, however, have been very possible – there were many places on the last loop to pick those seconds.
- Minna Kauppi lost the medals by doing the wrong choice on the route choice leg to 7 (loosing 0:40), bad execution and probably not the best route choice on the long leg to 11 (loosing 1:20) and the nearly 2 minute mistake to control 18. Also, she did not really have the speed on the last loop, but a medal was well within reach, and with perfect technique gold might even have been possible.
- Mari Fasting is the last runner who managed to keep the performance of Niggli for significant parts of the race, but unstable performance in other parts of the race
Lena Eliasson wins a medal due to her fantastic execution on the long leg to 11 where she is 40 seconds faster than the second fastest
Below you find the complete analysis including a lot of illustrations. If you are of the very impatient type, you might rather take a look at the quick-analysis here – but it is at least worth to scroll down and take a look at control 7, 11, 18 and 19.
About the analysis
In the analysis below, split times and standings are given for each leg. The runners who finished Top 6 are shown for each leg with red color (Top 3) or dark red color (Place 4-6). Time losses larger than 25 seconds are shown in bold. For each leg the map of the leg without routes is shown first. For legs where there are interesting route choices or other interesting aspects, additional illustrations are included. Thanks a lot to the course setter Samuli Launiainen for comments and discussions.
Women Long Distance Final: S-1
|Women Long Distance Final: S-1 (Legtimes)
|Women Long Distance Final: S-1 (Total times)
Lena Eliasson starts best – but no big differences between the top runners. Fincke looses 20 seconds due to uncertainty into control.
Women Long Distance Final: 1-2
|Women Long Distance Final: 1-2 (Legtimes)
|Women Long Distance Final: 1-2 (Total times)
The first long leg. Niggli has higher running speed and is 14 seconds faster than Kauppi who has second best split time. Eliasson looses 30 seconds – Fincke 50. Eliasson looses the time due to following her strategy of running around on paths wherever possible – before she takes the small loop around on the path at the end of the leg she has had the same speed as Niggli (see below). Fincke and Ryabkina run similar route choice to Niggli, and loose time due to lower speed.
Women Long Distance Final: 2-3
|Women Long Distance Final: 2-3 (Legtimes)
|Women Long Distance Final: 2-3 (Total times)
Small route choice leg where Niggli goes around to be more secure and looses 12 seconds due to this choice. Eliasson, Riabkina and Fincke on the other hand do mistakes by going direct. Jurenikova has fastest split time by going direct – and Kauppi is just behind, also going direct.
The course setter comments that the thought here is to challenge the runners with different route choice options. “- It is nearly easier to make these kind of micro route choices than long route choice legs in this terrain.”
At this point in the race Kauppi and Niggli are in shared lead – Eliasson is already 45 seconds behind.
Women Long Distance Final: 3-4
|Women Long Distance Final: 3-4 (Legtimes)
|Women Long Distance Final: 3-4 (Total times)
Some go direct – some take the path – but no big differences here. Alexandersson makes a mistake into the control.
Women Long Distance Final: 4-5
|Women Long Distance Final: 4-5 (Legtimes)
|Women Long Distance Final: 4-5 (Total times)
No big differences or time losses for this leg. All go fairly direct.
Women Long Distance Final: 5-6
|Women Long Distance Final: 5-6 (Legtimes)
|Women Long Distance Final: 5-6 (Total times)
Again a leg with no big differences in route choice – all go fairly direct. However, Niggli has the best leg time for the second leg in a row and starts building up a lead – now 26 seconds ahead of Kauppi. Alexandersson and Ryabkina run slower than Niggli – probably orienteering more carefully – and loose 16/21 seconds.
Women Long Distance Final: 6-7
|Women Long Distance Final: 6-7 (Legtimes)
|Women Long Distance Final: 6-7 (Total times)
The leg from 6 to 7 is the first interesting route choice leg. The fastest choice is the choice of Niggli, Ryabkina, Alexandersson and Fincke – going right on the path the first part of the leg, and then through the terrain at the north side of the lakes. Eliasson follows here strategy of going allong on paths and roads – loosing 41 seconds to Niggli after running around 180 meters longer. Kauppi runs south of the marshes and has to take both soft ground and some extra up and down – loosing a few seconds more than Eliasson. The direct route is run by Wigemyr who looses surprisingly much time here – most of it in the uphill after the marsh and also a bit by crossing the marsh. Jurenikova runs hard left – loosing more than a minute.
The mapmaker comments that these curves along the route of Kauppi are really 5 meter high – going up and down here costs power. In the discussions with the course setter we discuss that the men would probably have been able to run very good times using a direct route on this leg – the marsh between the lakes is not very slow and wet.
Women Long Distance Final: 7-8
|Women Long Distance Final: 7-8 (Legtimes)
|Women Long Distance Final: 7-8 (Total times)
No big differences here. Note that Niggli’s lead to Eliasson is now up to more than 1:30.
Women Long Distance Final: 8-9
|Women Long Distance Final: 8-9 (Legtimes)
|Women Long Distance Final: 8-9 (Total times)
Another leg with small differences. A tiny uncertainty into the control for Niggli, loosing her some seconds.
Women Long Distance Final: 9-10
|Women Long Distance Final: 9-10 (Legtimes)
|Women Long Distance Final: 9-10 (Total times)
Again, only small differences while preparing for the long leg.
Women Long Distance Final: 10-11
|Women Long Distance Final: 10-11 (Legtimes)
|Women Long Distance Final: 10-11 (Total times)
The 2 km long leg from 10 to 11 was the decisive leg in the women’s race. Eliasson wins the leg with 40 seconds – and there is more than 2 minutes down to number 10 on the leg (Tone Wigemyr).
- Left (3000 meters): Eliasson along with only three other runners chooses the long route around to the left on the road. Compared to the rest of their races, all three going around on the road gain time on this leg (Eliasson, Alison Crocker – 4th best on the leg, Helen Palmer would have gained time, except for her making a mistake into the control). This is also a route choice which is easier to execute than the alternatives.
- Direct (2200 meters): Mari Fasting has the second best split time on the leg going direct. Fasting is stronger in the forest than on the road, and might not have managed to run faster by going around on the road. Kauppi also goes direct, but looses time in the middle part of the leg – in total 41 seconds to Fasting on the same route choice. Still Kauppi has the third best split on the leg. Fincke also goes direct, but with very bad execution on the middle part of the leg – and also a mistake into the control – in total loosing 2:24.
- Right (2700-2900 meters): There are several alternatives to the right – none are optimal. All route choices to the right will loose you at least 40-50 seconds – and execution is also more difficult. The main reason is that it is nearly as long as going all the way around on the road to the left, but you loose the advantage of running on the path most of the leg. Niggli, Ryabkina and Alexandersson all run different alternatives to the right and loose between 1:30 and 2:30 to Eliasson.
Observe how Niggli’s lead to Eliasson is reduced from more than 1:30 and down to 3 seconds.
The mapmaker comments that the idea here was that different runners should use the route which suited their abilities best – for good road runners the long left variant should be the best.
[Click the illustration to see it full page]
Looking at the different options going to the right, you can observe in the illustrations below that Niggli’s route on the first part of the leg looses her 30 seconds compared to Ryabkina.
Comparing Niggli and Fasting, you can see that Niggli looses nearly half a minute to Fasting after entering the marsh just ahead of the river crossing. Thus going slightly right and combining Riabkina’s first part of the leg with Niggli’s second part with good execution should be just as fast as direct – the problem is to go far right on the path the first third of the leg.
Comparing Ryabkina with Alexandersson, you see that Ryabkina looses more than half a minute at the last part of the leg. Thus it is possible to run Riabkina’s route in around 14 minutes – but still significantly slower than the direct route. The reason for it being slower is that it is 500 meter longer without significant parts with a lot better runnability.
Women Long Distance Final: 11-12
|Women Long Distance Final: 11-12 (Legtimes)
|Women Long Distance Final: 11-12 (Total times)
Short leg to the arena which should be very easy. However, Alexandersson looses 16 seconds, Eliasson 23 and Ryabkina 53(!) seconds. Niggli uses the path to the south to make the control easy – the runners loosing time go more direct or use the path to the north.
Women Long Distance Final: 12-13
|Women Long Distance Final: 12-13 (Legtimes)
|Women Long Distance Final: 12-13 (Total times)
Niggli pushes hard after the arena passing – winning the first leg after the map exchange with 13 seconds. Eliasson looses another 20 seconds here due to uncertainty at the last part of the leg (“I was no longer offensive in my orienteering”, Eliasson said about her race after the map exchange) – and suddenly Niggli’s lead has gone from 3 seconds to 46 seconds. At this point in the race Kauppi still has a medal – 1:30 behind Niggli and with a gap of 42 seconds down to Alexandersson.
Women Long Distance Final: 13-14
|Women Long Distance Final: 13-14 (Legtimes)
|Women Long Distance Final: 13-14 (Total times)
On this short leg Eliasson looses her chance of a gold medal – missing the control with 1:20 (either orienteering to the wrong control or doing a direction mistake). Suddenly Kauppi is in silver position before entering the forking section. Eliasson is still ahead of Alexandersson, but the gap is reduced to 18 seconds. See Eliasson’s mistake below.
Women Long Distance Final: 14-15
|Women Long Distance Final: 14-15 (Legtimes)
|Women Long Distance Final: 14-15 (Total times)
No big differences on this small forking loop. Note: From here on you can not trust the total times in the right column anymore due to the forking.
Women Long Distance Final: 15-16
|Women Long Distance Final: 15-16 (Legtimes)
|Women Long Distance Final: 15-16 (Total times)
No big differences on this small forking loop.
Women Long Distance Final: 16-17
|Women Long Distance Final: 16-17 (Legtimes)
|Women Long Distance Final: 16-17 (Total times)
Women Long Distance Final: 17-18
|Women Long Distance Final: 17-18 (Legtimes)
|Women Long Distance Final: 17-18 (Total times)
The leg from 17-18 is the leg where Kauppi looses her medal. The Finnish multiple World Champion passes just a few meters beside the control without seeing it – and then searches for 1:50 before she finds the control. Note that Kauppi takes the secure route choice into the control – using a safe attackpoint from the vegetation boundary.
Up to this point on the leg Kauppi had approximately equal speed to Niggli, just loosing some seconds on her routechoice to the right.
Kauppi: – I had really much pressure here in Finland running in front of the big crowd. Maybe it is even too exciting to run here in front of the home crowd, but I have to try to turn it around to an advantage ahead of the middle distance.
The course setter comments that the controls 18 and 19 were two of the trickiest controls in the course were mistakes were expected.
Lena Eliasson also looses 35 seconds here – partly due to route choice were she goes far around in the road – and partly due to uncertainty towards the control.
Alexandersson and Ryabkina also loose nearly half a minute – mostly on the first/middle part of the leg. Running slower and less straight.
Mari Fasting runs a fantastic leg to control 18 – winning the leg with 6 seconds ahead of Niggli, and runs herself into the medal fight here. Suddenly she is equal to Kauppi and Ryabkina – and only half a minute behind Alexandersson. The direct approach is however more risky. To the next control Fasting is again out of the fight for medals after a nearly two minute mistake – running a bad compass direction out of the control and getting uncertain when approaching the path. Finally she also looses Top 6 after another mistake of nearly 2 minutes to 22.
Women Long Distance Final: 18-19
|Women Long Distance Final: 18-19 (Legtimes)
|Women Long Distance Final: 18-19 (Total times)
On the leg from 18 to 19 Niggli nearly makes it exciting again with her 50 second mistake on a control in the green. It might look like a small inaccuracy when leaving the path. The gap down to Eliasson shrinks down to 1:52 – but still it looks like it is too much.
Niggli: – I had a mistake at control 19. I got a bit nervous I heard that I was half a minute ahead of Lena at the passing, and I know that if she run very well it was too much.
Alexandersson also does a mistake here (similar to Niggli’s), making the fight for silver more interesting – Alexandersson now has an advantage of 30 seconds on Eliasson.
Women Long Distance Final: 19-20
|Women Long Distance Final: 19-20 (Legtimes)
|Women Long Distance Final: 19-20 (Total times)
Niggli is running fast and again has a best split. No big mistakes by any of the favourites, but Eliasson looses 21 seconds mostly due to uncertainty on the last 100-150 meters towards the control – and also Niggli gains some time by following the path further on the first part of the leg.
Women Long Distance Final: 20-21
|Women Long Distance Final: 20-21 (Legtimes)
|Women Long Distance Final: 20-21 (Total times)
Again Niggli is very fast – 9 seconds faster than the next runner on a 2 minute leg is quite impressive. Eliasson again looses quite much time – 20 seconds to Niggli and 11 seconds to Alexandersson. Eliasson’s gap to Alexandersson is now down to 8 seconds.
Women Long Distance Final: 21-22
|Women Long Distance Final: 21-22 (Legtimes)
|Women Long Distance Final: 21-22 (Total times)
A simple leg were both Eliasson and Alexandersson loose half a minute. Eliasson seemingly due to an overly secure route choice going out to the path (might also hav ebeen a direction mistake?) – Alexandersson due to loosing control on the middle of the leg and using some extra time relocating.
Women Long Distance Final: 22-23
|Women Long Distance Final: 22-23 (Legtimes)
|Women Long Distance Final: 22-23 (Total times)
The leg to the last control decides the fight for about silver for Alexandersson against Eliasson. The course setter here comments that the plan was that if it was tight for victory on control 22, the idea was that it would be possible to decide the race by taking the straight option. And this is exactly what Alexandersson did – gaining 13 seconds on Eliasson and stepping up to silver position.
Niggli also runs direct, but does not execute the leg well. This costs her 10 seconds, but nothing is at stake for Niggli – who wins a clear victory.
Performance index and graphical splits comparison
Finally a quick comparison of the overall performance of the runners. First the graphical splits analysis (click for bigger figure).
Niggli’s curve is clearly flatter than the others – with many best leg splits. Alexandersson has a quite steady race – loosing steadily to the best split time except for a few small mistakes on the last leg. Eliasson has a completely different curve on the part before arene passing than after – the long leg taking some energy and the approach also becoming less offensive. Kauppi has a race development which is clearly good enough for silver – except for the mistake on the last loop.
Taking a look at the performance index below (click for larger figure), you can see that Simone Niggli mostly has her own level at around 105%. Eliasson however has a peak even higher up – representing her fantastic performance on the long leg to 11 – but the rest of her race is even below Alexandersson and Kauppi. Also interesting to note is that the only other runner who manages Niggli’s level for a significant part of the race is Mari Fasting – she has however a quite large peak also below 100% performance index.
Looking at average time loss per leg (click for larger figure), legs 18, 19 and 20 were the ones which highest time losses (as expected – being in the green). Note also time losses for leg 2, 3 and 4 (also controls in more tricky terrain) and finally the long leg. More than 50% of the runners loose time on the leg to control 19.
The average time loss and error frequency is calculated according to the performance on the rest of the course for all runners using a quite agressive setting with an error threshold of 5 seconds / 5%.