Is 70-80 minutes as today enough for the women, or should the estimated winning time be increased towards 90-100 minutes as for the men for IOF Long Distance events? The best women are clearly capable of running 20 minutes longer, but does that mean that a longer winning time is the way to go?
The IOF Foot-O Athlete’s Commission is performing a survey on the topic to find out if there is a wish for a winning time for the women’s long distance closer to the men’s.
Is 70 minutes a real long distance?
At the World Championships in Scotland the women’s winner Ida Bobach (picture above) had a winning time of 75 minutes – while the men’s winner Thierry Gueorgiou run more than 99 minutes. Running 25 minutes more on top of a 75 minute run is very though both physiologically and mentally – is the women’s long distance a “real long distance” with today’s estimated winning time? Would there be other winners and medalists in a longer race?
Depth of start field
Maybe the most important question is how a longer winning time would influence the number of starters. Would fewer women want to run the long distance due to longer winning time? This is a strong argument on national level, but maybe not so much on the top international level?
Note also that there is more spread in the finishing times of the women’s field compared to the men’s – and thus the running time for the women further down on the results list would be longer than for the men finishing in the corresponding place. This could also mean more spread in the upper part of the results list, with the race being decided earlier?
Simone Niggli after winning WOC Long distance in 2010.
Questions and discussion topics from the Athlete’s commission
The IOF Foot-O Athlete’s Commission has prepared a document with some discussions on this topic – asking the following questions:
- Long distance specific training. Does the Long Distance (LD) as it is require a specific focus when training for it? Would extending the estimated winning time (EWT) impact athletes’ training strategies? Would we see fewer athletes racing all disciplines, with more specialising?
- Gender parity. Does having a shorter winning time make the Women’s long distance a less prestigious event than the men’s? Is this in the eyes of spectators/outsiders? Or, most importantly, in the eyes of the elite women themselves?
- What implications might extending the EWT have for juniors looking to step up to the elite field? (c.f. The current JWOC long distance EWT for women is 55mins)
Annika Billstam won the WOC Long Distance 2011.
- It is undeniable that there is more spread in the finishing times of the women’s field compared to the men’s. (At WOC2015 10th fastest time in the women’s field was 8.2% behind the winner, 20th was 16.1% behind, compared to 4.8% and 10.9%, respectively, in the Men). Increasing the EWT of the women’s long will spread out the field further time wise. What does this mean:
- For us as athletes – will fewer women want to run the long as a result? If so, is it a positive or negative if only the more focussed/motivated/stronger race?
- What might it mean for development of athletes and nations as a whole? Both in larger and smaller orienteering nations?
- From the viewer’s stand-point. Is it more/less exciting/interesting if there are only a few runners within 5-10 minutes of the winner?
- From the organiser’s view. The long distance is a long day as it is, how much will extending the EWT lengthen the competition day?
- From the media’s point of view? Would TV/Live coverage be affected?
- Should we be looking at the winning time, or the average time of the race? Is there a compromise? Is there a way to redefine ‘estimated winning time’ to help account for the spread in the field? e.g. define the EWT as the average of the times of the top XX runners? Are there other methods that could be used?
- What would the knock on effect of an increase in EWT be at national, regional and local level events?
Survey coming up
Over the previous months, the IOF Foot-O Athletes’ Commission has been putting together a survey on the topic – opening up April 20th, which will be sent out to all female elites (junior and senior) who have run an IOF Foot-O event since 01-01-2015 and have up-to-date e-mail address in IOF Eventor (more information here).
What do you think?
What do you think about the women’s winning time for the Long Distance? Should it be increased with 20 minutes to the same as for the men? The IOF Foot-O Athlete’s Commission’s does not discuss the option of going half of the way – increasing the estimated winning time with 10 minutes to 80-90 minutes. Could that be an option?