[Updated with statement from Thierry Gueorgiou] The second last control in the WOC Middle was decisive for the medals in both the men’s and the women’s class. In the women’s class Emma Johansson lost a certain gold medal due to a mistake at this control. In the men’s class Thierry Gueorgiou lost a certain medal here – and maybe, maybe a gold medal.
A reminder from the WOC middle analysis article about the incident: “Here Gueorgiou went into the green through a hole in the fence, and searched for 49 seconds before finding the control. In the end Thierry Gueorgiou was 46 seconds from the Gold medal. This was the same mistake that cost Emma Johansson the victory in the women’s class.”
Update 11/8/2015: Thierry Gueorgiou has written a comment about the control on his blog: “In my opinion, the map around the penultimate control was not up to the quality which is required at a WOC. I, of course, went there after my race to check the area and was not pleased with what I saw. Well, the fact is that it is not the first time it happens at our major championship, and we can´t even all agree on what is a good enough map. It is also worth mentioning that the map has always been the same for everyone and it is an important skill to manage to keep the risk as low as possible whatever the circumstances.”
Above you see a picture from a few meters from where the path leaves the road, i.e. just before the red and blue lines at the map sample below. The red line is the line many runners have followed, including, probably, Thierry Gueorgiou and Emma Johansson. There is a very marked path from runners there – must have been many, many runners taking this way.
Here is a video showing three different routes to the control; first along the red line, and then just fighting to get out again (based on the GPS-tracking this could be similar to what Gueorgiou was doing; Johansson was probably even further into the green). The second does also start along the red line, and then turns right just ahead of where the fence is drawn (there was no fence to be found there, though). The third around the yellow to the right and to the control from behind.
This is where the wrong path goes; compare with the first image with the two trees clearly visible.
This is where the wrong path continues into the green and crosses the non-visible fence.
And finally the control location, the hedge.
The map is definitely not perfect in this area. The original article stated “through a hole in the fence” – I did however not see a fence at all there. Also, the vegetation is generally denser than one would expect from the map in this area. If the map would have given a correct representation of the terrain, i.e. if there would have been a fence here, it would not have been possible to do the big mistake Gueorgiou and Johansson made. One would have been caught by the fence, turned right, and found the control with maximum a few seconds time loss.
However, it is clear that Gueorgiou and Johansson did a mistake here – they clearly ran in the wrong direction after leaving the path. This should however rather have been punished with 2-5 seconds time loss rather than 45-90 seconds time loss, if one looks at the map.
PS! In some ways this is similar to the map problems which cost Gueorgiou a middle gold medal in Denmark in 2006 (mistake due to not 100% accurate map) and a relay gold medal in Hungary in 2009 (control difficult to find based on the map; yes, Gueorgiou would have been ahead of the Swedish team at the crucial moment without this mistake). Gueorgiou’s technique is “on the edge” – and that is mostly in a good way. If the map is inaccurate, there may be trouble…
Update 6/9/2015: E-mail and pictures from the Assistant Event Director
As Assistant Event Director I had quite a lot to do with both Graeme as planner and the IOF. I had to drop some things off at Darnaway yesterday and thought I would look at the controversial second last control. I have attached three photos – where Thierry crossed I moved the vegetation and the fence wire is clearly visible above ground level. Move NE or SW from this point and the fence is much more obvious. I am not a mapper but I would say this is a fence rather than a ruined fence. The area is probably greener than the map indicates but with the wet and warm weather there was a lot of late season growth. Johansson and Gueorgiou made a pretty basic mistake that most competent club orienteers would have soon corrected. As soon as they dived into the unpleasant green area they should have realised no planner would put a control in an area like this and they would have run back out again losing maybe 5-10 seconds.