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How long should the women’s Long Distance be?

idabobach_WOC2015Long 10

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?

simoneniggli_WOC2010LongFinal 5

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?

About Jan Kocbach

Jan Kocbach is the founder of WorldofO.com - taking care of everything from site development to writing articles, photography and analysis.

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  1. In order to handle the spread in finishing times, I believe it would be best to use the average of the top N finishers, with N in the 5-10 range.

    Another option is to specify the median of the first 2*N+1, i.e. the time of the Nth finisher.

    Both these methods would lead to less uncertainty in the time most of the better competitors would spend in the forest, and it would remove the “Niggli problem”, i.e. when you have a single standout competitor in a race, someone who is expected to win by 5+ minutes.

    OTOH I do agree that the women should run at least as long (in time) as the men, for almost all other long distance events, like marathons, the _distance_ is equal so the women tend to spend 10-20% longer instead of 20% shorter.

  2. Bernt O. Myrvold

    Jan asks whether 70 minutes is a real long distance? Well in track and field they rarely run much more than 30-35 minutes (10000 meters). Physically it is clearly a long distance. It 70 minutes long enough to test the orienteering abilities?

    “The Long distance … aims at testing the athletes’ ability to make efficient route choices, to read and interpret the map and plan the race for endurance during a long and physically demanding exercise. The format emphasises route choices and navigation in rough, demanding terrain, preferably hilly. The control is the end-point of a long leg with demanding route choice, and is not necessarily in itself difficult to find. The
    Long distance may in parts include elements characteristic of the Middle distance with the course
    suddenly breaking the pattern of route choice orienteering to introduce a section with more technically
    demanding legs.”

    As 45-60 minutes are recommende for long distance qualification races 70 minutes is probably long enough to test the orienteering.

    The question should probably be: is it fair and reasonable that women run a shorter race than men?

    Fair? Probably not.
    Reasonable? Yeas, if you want a thight and exciting competition for the media and spectators.

  3. Just a thought.. What would happen if the sport did it the other way around, and shortened the men’s race?

  4. 70 minutes may seem too short indeed, however stretching it out to 100 min would probably be too much for women mainly due to spread of the field. A mid point of 80-90 min could be used instead.

    As I am fond of long distance races to my mind endurance race means how long one can sustain its efforts before hitting the ‘wall’ both physically and mentally. 70 minutes are not likely going to bring you very close to it. Adding 10-15 minutes might do it, thus possibly making endings more unpredictable. Longer race will require more trade offs for speed vs endurance.

    So in short – as long as men => probably not; +10-15mins => I’d support that

  5. Interesting discussion. My opinion is that there is big difference between running 70 and 100 minutes physically. When you are running 100 minutes is much important with a good running economy and high ability to burn fat. Your fat burning engine is on top after apx. 35 min minutes and your result depends on your ability to burn fat and make your carbohydrate stocks lasts as long as possible. It takes many hours of training to improve these abilities and my opinion is that this is the main reason why men/boys have to train more and longer than women/girls do/have to. There is bigger difference between long and sprint for a man and that is properly why more men have specialised successfully into specific distances. Only the very best and only few men have succeeded with winning WOC sprint and long. Among the women, there is not so big difference between the distances and that is properly why the best girls can dominate all distances and not many girls have specialised into specific distances. I agree with Bernt that more girls are capable of winning when the distance is 70 min and that might be more interesting, but is it different in the men’s class? It think that it would be the same there. There is no physical reason to explain that the winning time should be different. It could be interesting to how a winning time at 100 minutes would effect female orienteering. Will it be more boring? Will more girls specialize into sprint or long? Etc.

  6. Why every-one consider only the option to increase Long for women to 1.40-1.50 like the only way to achieve gender equality????

    There is an another option – reduce mens time for Long: 1.10-1.20 for women and men!

    1) This option improves situation with pack formations (now it is easily to come to the Long medal through running inside right pack formation! and this problem is especially serious in the women class and it is even worse with shorter start intervals at WOC).

    2) This is more acceptable for TV-media and organizers.

  7. And third reason to achieve gender equality by reducing time to 1.10-1.20 in male class:

    3) Better recovery and more chances to fight for medals in other discipline (especially with tight schedule). Right now it is written 1.30-1.40, but in practice quite often even winners run about 2 hours. That means that almost all runners complete Long-races in more then 2 hours. That’s extremely heavy!! As for energy expenditure and muscle damage it is like marathon in track&fields athletics!

  8. Why are only men discussing this topic?

  9. If you look at the marathon distance, it is the same length 42km for both men and women. And yes, women run longer than men. For some reason orienteering has decided to do the opposite. I understand, why orienteering sets the time, not length as a distance length, but making runs shorter for women is in contrast to other sports. Think about football, ice-hockey and other sports. Do they make a distinction between men and women for the duration of the game or length of the distance?

  10. For me it is hard to understand why we still have this difference between winning times on long distance.
    There are no physiological reasons for women to run shorter time than men. I consider orienteering as a modern sport and in such we should offer the same possibilities to men and women.

    Not so long time ago many people considered that running is dangerous for women’s health and women were long time barred from sport events in general and from for example running marathon in particular.
    In orienteering we have for example history of women disguising themselves as men to be able to participate in Tiomila during the 60-ties and 70-ties.

    Many people probably think that we have complete equality between men and women in orienteering now but for me the fact that the winning time is not the same is a proof that it is not the case yet.

    Running and training for a long distance of 70 and 90 minutes is different in some ways. Mikke Lund is providing some arguments in his comment above. Also If you know that you are going to run only 70 minutes you can think less about the tactics and how you should optimize your speed, it is easier to stay focused etc.
    With a longer course the course setter has more possibilities to set more interesting legs with route choices and to use more interesting parts of the map. I have run long distance in 13 WOCs. Almost every year I could feel some disappointment with our course when I could compare with the one the men were offered. In some cases (WOC 2001 and 2010 come to my mind first) the difference in the course quality was very big due to the distance between the arena and the best part of the terrain.

    If we get rid the time difference, the reason women now have to train less will disappear and I hope that the status of women’s orienteering will increase. As a coach I see often women running shorter time at training and also as an athlete I set my plan differently as if I would train for LD of 90-100 minutes. I believe that for some women this change could increase their motivation to train more and in longer term also increase the level of performance.

    During the recent years the interest for for example ultra trail running has grown considerably. And since women were allowed in marathon in the beginning of the eighties the proportion of female runners have been continuously increasing. Now in some marathons it is about 40%.
    Some people have suggested to me that we will make it even more difficult to find women, especially from smaller orienteering nations, who are willing to prepare for and to participate in long distance races.
    Maybe, but maybe we will also get some other women who are more motivated by the time increase.

    If we adjusted our distances to what the majority prefers to participate in, we would probably end up with only a middle distance and we would loose those who are challenged by the other types. The increase of women’s time at WOC LD will hopefully also influence the races at lower level. I do not think that it will discourage women with lower levels of fitness. Already now, even at small races there is always a choice of a shorter course for those who prefer it. If you are a woman and want to run the longest course, you need to enter in the men’s class. In Eventor (the entry system used in Sweden and Norway and also internationally now), at least with the default settings, you cannot do it. You need to send an email to the organizers and ask them.

    I wish this change came 10-20 years ago, it is too late for my own elite career, but I still want and I will continue to make effort to make our sport better and to increase the choice for the female athletes of the current and coming generations.

    • Dear Eva! Looks like it is too personal for you ))

      1) Do you agree that difference between World class girls and ‘normal’ elite girls are bigger then in the men class?.. If yes then you would agree that female LD in 1:30-1:40 is related with MORE PACK FORMATIONS then before.

      2) The idea with same LD time 1:10-1:20 in men and women class – is it gonna to satisfy you?.. (cause it is reasonable in case of TV, size of area and recovery to the next disciplines)

  11. There exists no reason why women should not have the same winning time as men in a long distance race, and I therefore think the discussion should not be about whether or not the winning times should be the same (because it should!), but about what the equal winning time in M and W should be.

    For me personally I think a long distance race of 70 min is too short, but I also think that 100 min is a bit too long. So I guess a winning time between 80-90 min would be suitable. I also think that the men are equally important as the women in this discusiion about winning time. I also think that elite women are not afraid of the longer distances and we will not see less women participation on international level in long distance if the winning times are increased.

  12. I totally agree with Silje. Couldn’t have said it better. The question is what an adequate winning time is, not what an adequate winning time for women is. However, if there is a change (and I hope there will be), it is probably going to affect the national events as well (Jan’s last bullet point). Whereas the elite women are not afraid to run longer courses, maybe those who are competing at a lower level are, I don’t know? Or, as Eva says, it might be an additional motivation to train more and the average level becomes higher? From the men’s point of view: I I’m not sure how many of those in the second half of the result list would say no to a shorter winning time..? Just some additional questions to think about.

  13. Helena Jansson

    For me the discussion is two separate questions.

    One is about whether or not women and men should have the same winning time in all disciplines, and here the answer is obviously yes, no reason why not.

    The other question is about what the winning time in a long distance should be. It is when discussing the second question one can give pros and cons about what a long distance should really be about and why. Here there is no right or wrong in the same sense, but personally I think a longer course means a greater challenge and a better chance to experience more wonderful forest and terrain.

  14. I think women should decide on winning times for women, and men on winning times for men. If they end up being different, then so be it. There is nothing inherently wrong with winning times for men and women being different, if this is what athletes want.

  15. Maria Magnusson

    The only reason why we have this discussion is because we live in a patriarchy where first women weren’t aloud to run at all, then men decided it was ok but not to run as long as the men because the were so fragile, and then… well here we are. It’s freeaakin’ 2016 come on??! Haven’t we got any further than this? Let’s just decide to have the same winning times. Otherwise I request that women should pay less competition fees since we don’t get equal fun. Same with relays and night-O.
    End. Of. Story.

    And Mike Vinogradov please please stop with your master suppression techniques towards women it’s so obvious that it gets embarrassing.

    • Dear Maria! I really surprised that you count me like a ‘master of suppression’, but actually I have same rights to discuss the future of our sport. And (by the way) before I was writing about opinion of my runner – Galina Vinogradova.

      As for my opinion – please, take a look on the situation from objective point of view (I like arguments like ‘I want to run 1:40 – that’s my wish!’ but this is only subjective stuff). Any international sport exists only because of spectators!

      What is gonna be with 1:30-1:40 Long in female class? (1) multiple and huge park formations (and even influence on the medals), (2) dozens girls with finish time more then 2 hours, (3) a lot of DNF (to keep energy for the Middle/Relay/Sprint at next day). Is it a great way to promote our sport?..

      And once more: would you be satisfied by the same (for men and women) winning time in 1:10-1:20?

      • Dear Mike! Looks like it is too personal for you ))

        It is often said that a marathon or a 50 km race “really starts” after 90 minutes, and I have very fond memories of races where I “had a very interesting mind” towards the end. It would be a failure of laziness to shorten the mens LD to 70-80 minutes since it would remove those aspects of pacing.

        As for your worries about pack-running, do you have statisticts indicating that women cluster that much towards the ends of the current races, or is it mere conjecture?

    • About night-O and relays: Night Hawk has night legs for women. If its so important for you to run night at relays, where have you been on night hawk the last years?

  16. Maria Magnusson

    Of course you have the same rights to discuss, not the issue here. It’s how you draw the “too personal”/”you’re emotional” card on femle humans in discussions. It’s diminishing and not respectful.

  17. Should women have courses with similar difficulty (orienteering technically) as men?

    • @Chauv: This is a clearly not adding to the discussion. I won’t delete the comment, but other readers please don’t jump on this one…

  18. @Mike/Maria & others: Thanks for interesting discussions – there are many interesting views here! It would however be good if you could keep the personal part of the discussions out of this forum.

  19. I totally agree with the other girls, women and men should have the same winner time. And I agree with all the reasons they already have mentioned. I have also posted a text on my website about longdistance, in swedish for the moment but maybe it will come an english version.

  20. Thierry Gueorgiou

    Well, far too much men discussing about this issue here, and sorry to add my opinion as well.

    As many said already, women and men should have the same winning time in long distance, and most likely around 100min. No doubt about it.

    But why asking the whole World’s opinion for this issue?! IOF is again following a wrong path. In my opinion, it is just about correcting something which has been wrong for many years. Simple.

    Of course, people will mostly respond with their own experience, or even to say training volume/background. But now, we are talking about Elite sport, and the opinion should mainly be based on the very best.

  21. Will there be an Ultra-long distance??

  22. I agree with the comments about the irrelevance of all the men commenting this topic. It’s a good idea to let all the women/girls decide what they want. As I understand this is also the case with this survey, as only female athletes can participate.

    I think that all can agree that there’s no reason why the winning time shouldn’t be the same. As the mens (and junior-boys) longdistance is working well as it is now (and have been for a looong time), I don’t see a reason to change this. The interesting question is, therefore, if the women want to have their longdistance with a winning time of 90-100 min (70 min for junior-girls)? I have talked to female orienteers (most Danish), and their answers to this question don’t give a clear conclusion, however. Some want it longer, some don’t, and some don’t care… But it’s a good idea to make a big survey to see what the common views are.

    No matter what the conclusions of the survey will be, I am actually more interested if the IOF will listen to the athletes. I have my doubts… The questions about the organizer-issues, TV-coverage, spectators, and economy in general will most likely be considered as more important. But we can hope ;)

  23. Just a bit more background on the survey and the intro, to clear a few things up:

    – The whole survey and discussion is an initiative of the Athlete’s Commission, not the IOF directly. So all comments along the lines of ‘The IOF are going about this the wrong way”, well you can direct them at the AC this time. But then, we’ve also copped flak for not doing enough about the Long Distance winning time in the past… I guess sometimes you’ll be criticized no matter what you do ;)

    – One of the main reasons for the survey was that most of the opinions we were hearing on social media etc were from men and/or non-elites, but not many at all from the group that would be most effected by the change; the elite women. So it’s good to see more female opinions being aired now! Even so, these views only represent a very small minority of the elite women community; hence the survey which we hope will have a far greater reach.

    – It is very hard to write a completely unbiased and objective article on this subject, no matter what your position on it is. We tried our best with the intro and thought we managed it pretty well, so sorry if others don’t see it that way. However, the purpose of publishing this a week before the survey is opened is that people have time to share their views and reasoning if they wish. What we wanted to do was to provoke discussion and try to get people to look at the topic from all angles, not just their own individual position. Topics like this are never black and white, there are shades of grey. So please, consider all of the points, some may be much more important than others, but all are worthy of consideration!

    Peace, Love and Orienteering

  24. I agree with Silje, Helena, Thierry (among some) and I think Eva gives a broad picture of the subject while showing some history, some own experiences and discussing some of the arguments against a longer set time for LD.

    I emphasize that the discussion from AC and IOF should be about the time that a long distance should have, no matter if there is men or women running. What is the heart of the long distance? What makes it special compared to shorter distances? How long does it need to be to challenge the runners in this way? Again, this should not be a difference between men and women. The main reason why there is a difference now is beacuse a decision way back when women were not participating on the same level as men. After that we added sprint and middle, and then the decision was the same time – which is logical. In case of the long distance there “always” been a difference, and of course all women who have run long distances has adapted to that. The course finish when it’s finished. We are top athletes, we prepare in detail to be as ready as we can for what the challenge is and the frames set for this challenge. We do the best we can at the set competition, no matter if it is 70 or 90 minutes. If IOF would make the decision to make the LD 90 minutes, that is what to prepare for and we will do it.

    I think that it is favourable that men discuss this topic if you discuss the long distance as it is (the heart, the challenges, to find out the “optimal” time of the LD – longer, shorter?), but not discuss this on the basis of your bias about what women can do and can not do.

    Media, organization and so on is of course one part of this, but then it is not just about the women, its about the long distance in total. And I guess that if we should adjust to what media wants we should not have a long distance at all(?). But I am convinced that there are other solutions here than shorten the long distance.

    About pack running. This is a problem which also can be found in the middle distance (90 sec start gap) in some terrains. Do we know that increasing LD time will get more pack formations? Increasing get bigger possibiities for better courses (more route choices) and perhaps also some forking (would be interesting to know if this solution helped to reduce pack formations in men class when this been used?).

    Back to the start. I would love that IOF (and AC) would discuss what the long distance should be like and use science, history – old results and experiences to make a decision about LD time, and then apply it for the international orienteering (which concerns both men and women).

    A survey to get everyones opinion is a nice way to do it, but unfortunately the easiest way in decision-making is to do what you’ve always done. Women are used to 70 minutes, IOF are used to this, organizers are used to this… Just saying… It will be interesting with the survey and what AC and IOF finally will do with this.

    • Just a quick answer about pack running: Increasing the running time increases the risk for groups being formed, yes. But you have the same problem in the men’s class, and the same solutions must be applied. If grouping would be worse in the women’s class than in the men’s with the same winning time, is the questions which should be addressed in this regard. On one hand there might be less grouping in the women’s class since the spread in level is larger (fewer can follow the best); on the other hand grouping could have larger consequences for the medals/top6 as there will probably be larger time gaps in the top.

      • @Jan Sounds reasonable! Agree. But there are two additional factors:

        1) Women are more independent then men and often choose own route choices (and this breaks pack formation). Men prefer to work together. But this factor is relevant only for terrains with many route choices challenges (unfortunately many course setters just make prolonged Middle D with straight running and tricky control positions instead of true Long D).

        2) In average women makes more mistakes in compare to men (especially you can see it at Relays – in men class loosing contact with leading group means the end of fighting but there are always chances in the female class). That means that more time to make navigation (case of current idea) = more opportunities to make mistakes (especially when you are too tired) and to be caught up by the next runner.

        • Bernt O. Myrvold

          I think you are wrong. I have looked at the split times for several WOCs, and the women actually makes much less mistakes than the men. The reason is probably that there is a much larger spread in physical capacity among the women. It pays to go “slow” and carefull. Among the men you have to take more risks to be among the top placers.

          I would guess that the larger differences in running speed among the women also will give less pack formation. Fewer runners are able to follow the best.

          • Please, prove it with statistics from WOC/EOC. Men race is like a express-train – even one mistake … – and after the finish you are searching yourself at the bottom of the results list!

            But in the women class you have opportunity to win even WOC/EOC with mistakes.

            Every international relay in men class is more or less predictable. But in the women class… E.g., I still remember WOC-2011! Please, check GPS-tracks from women class. You will see like best of the best girls in the World Orienteering made DOZENS mistakes.

      • Question for Jan: in the pas years, would men’s podium have been different if the race stopped after 75′ for example ?

        • Example 2015:

          Top 10 at the end:
          1. Thierry Gueorgiou France 99:46 (+0:00)
          2. Daniel Hubmann Switzerland 100:11 (+0:25)
          3. Olav Lundanes Norway 100:43 (+0:57)
          4. Frederic Tranchand France 101:26 (+1:40)
          5. Fabian Hertner Switzerland 101:44 (+1:58)
          6. Matthias Kyburz Switzerland 102:21 (+2:35)
          7. Olle Bostrom Sweden 102:36 (+2:50)
          8. Gustav Bergman Sweden 103:25 (+3:39)
          9. Lucas Basset France 104:22 (+4:36)
          10. Hans Gunnar Omdal Norway 104:38 (+4:52)

          Top 10 after 75 minutes:
          1. Daniel Hubmann Switzerland 75:52 (+0:00) Total:
          100:11 (2)
          2. Thierry Gueorgiou France 75:56 (+0:04) Total:
          99:46 (1)
          3. Frederic Tranchand France 76:12 (+0:20) Total:
          101:26 (4)
          4. Olav Lundanes Norway 76:15 (+0:23) Total:
          100:43 (3)
          5. Matthias Kyburz Switzerland 77:02 (+1:10) Total:
          102:21 (6)
          6. Gustav Bergman Sweden 77:14 (+1:22) Total:
          103:25 (8)
          7. Olle Bostrom Sweden 77:29 (+1:37) Total:
          102:36 (7)
          8. Fabian Hertner Switzerland 77:43 (+1:51) Total:
          101:44 (5)
          9. Magne Daehli Norway 79:09 (+3:17) Total:
          106:15 (13)
          10. Lucas Basset France 79:21 (+3:29) Total:
          104:22 (9)

          2014 at the end:
          1. Gueorgiou Thierry FRA 94:45 (+0:00)
          2. Hubmann Daniel SUI 96:12 (+1:27)
          3. Lundanes Olav NOR 97:09 (+2:24)
          4. Hertner Fabian SUI 98:39 (+3:54)
          5. Kyburz Matthias SUI 100:12 (+5:27)
          6. Johansson Fredrik SWE 100:16 (+5:31)
          7. Rollier Baptiste SUI 101:19 (+6:34)
          8. Kerschbaumer Gernot AUT 101:40 (+6:55)
          9. Nikolov Kiril BUL 101:59 (+7:14)
          10. Dahlgren Filip SWE 102:15 (+7:30)

          2014 after 75 min:
          1. Gueorgiou Thierry FRA 75:58 (+0:00) Total:
          94:45 (1)
          2. Hubmann Daniel SUI 76:36 (+0:38) Total:
          96:12 (2)
          3. Lundanes Olav NOR 76:39 (+0:41) Total:
          97:09 (3)
          4. Hertner Fabian SUI 78:52 (+2:54) Total:
          98:39 (4)
          5. Rollier Baptiste SUI 79:59 (+4:01) Total:
          101:19 (7)
          6. Johansson Fredrik SWE 80:00 (+4:02) Total:
          100:16 (6)
          7. Nikolov Kiril BUL 80:19 (+4:21) Total:
          101:59 (9)
          8. Dahlgren Filip SWE 80:21 (+4:23) Total:
          102:15 (10)
          9. Kyburz Matthias SUI 80:37 (+4:39) Total:
          100:12 (5)
          10. Kerschbaumer Gernot AUT 81:08 (+5:10) Total:
          101:40 (8)

          -> But I guess it is also about pacing for 100 minutes ..

  25. I recognize many of the names who take part in this discussion as some of the best trained and most experienced orienteers in the world. There is no surprise that they would like a winning time of 90-100 minutes on the long distance. It could however be interesting to hear what women and men in the age of 19-23 think about the topic.

  26. Bernt O. Myrvold

    I think it also would be interesting to take into consideration why we organize a WOC at all. Why do we spend hundreds of thousand euros to organise a WOC? If we just want to find the best orienteer at a particular day any low key event in good terrain could do the job. I coulkd certainly do the job together with a handfull of friends without involving the 500 or so orgainisers for most WOCs.

    Almost all the extras for the organisers are to make sure our sport and top athletes get the recognition that in my opinion is fully deserved.

    Do we get that by increasing the winning margins or do we obtain that by creating thight exiting competitions?

    To me it seems like the level among the women today is too variable to increase the winning time. But as the data from Jan shows cutting the winning time for the men will hardly influence the top of the result lists among the men. (Shifting one or two places up and down will of course be important for the individual runner, but hardly matter for the sport as such. The alternate list present will still give winners that are widely recognised as among the very top runners in the world.)

    • We should carefully interpret this data from Jan. Pacing hardly influences both lists, and probably we will see same winners in case of 70 minutes (pacing here means that runner keeps some energy to pushing hard at the last part of course. With information about 75 minutes WT (instead of 1:40) hypothetical person would use another pacing pattern).

  27. The difference in the winning time means, at least to me, that were are not providing equal possibility to men and women. And this is clearly wrong in my opinion. The difference of 20 minutes might be seen by some as insignificant, and to call it an equality problem too far reaching, but I believe that both for the motivation of women to train more and for the overall prestige of women’s orienteering it has a lot of importance.

    Equality is not just a question for women, also men should participate in the discussion. Please, feel welcome to do it (as long as you are respectful to others).

    In some of the comments above possible consequences of a time increase for women are described. After removing the qualification races at WOC we could see some runners at the WOC long distance finishing in time >50% longer than the winning time (in both classes), and some others not even being able to make the whole course (more cases of dnf/mp in the men’s class). Before this discussion here I have not heard about anybody asking for shortening of the courses and adjusting it so that those in the lower part of the result list should be able to make it around/to feel less discouraged/to create more tight competition/to avoid pack formations/to spare job for organizers…

    • Thanks for your discussion. Many things sounds reasonable. But here are some thoughts to think:

      1. What is more prestigious: 1500 m Olympic medal (in athletics men class) or 42195 m Olympic medal (in women class)? 50 km Olympic medal in X-skiing (men class) or 30 km Olympic medal in X-skiing (women class)? From my point of view all World champs/OG medals are equally prestigious!

      2. To motivate women (and in general all athletes) to train more: lets make Long D course with 3:00 WT! (and like Helena wrote: “longer course means a greater challenge and a better chance to experience more wonderful forest and terrain”) Even in case of really short event in athletics (let say, 60 m running) you have to train A LOT to be the best in the World (or even in Europe). In my opinion, the length of course/distance have a low relation with intention of athlete to train more.

      3. If we wants to change something in the current international competitions system, should we think carefully about all advantages and disadvantages? Right now I can see only one advantage of increasing of WT for Long D in women class: SOME (not all) women will start to feel more comfortable with new WT. And there is a long list of disadvantages!

      4. The idea with WT for Long in 1:10-1:20 for both classes (men and women): are you gonna to support it? (cause gender equality would be easily reached in this case without significant disadvantages). Please, say in direct words!

  28. gregor chudoba

    Why equal winning times, why not equal distances?

    It could, after all, be seen as denigrating that women are made to run shorter distances.

  29. I believe that the discussion is a bit skewed, and that the question is put in a wrong way already from the start.

    How long should the women’s long distance be? Well, equal to the men’s, of course. Why is there even a discussion about this? Almost all arguments against a 100 min winning time for women applies for men as well (e.g. juniors going up in senior class, the runners further down the result list, the TV and spectator point of view, and so on). Why is it tougher for a female first year senior to run a 100 min long distance, than it is for a male? Why is it tougher for the female runners that lose >1 min/km to the best than the male runners that also lose that much time?

    There is a very simple answer: It isn’t.

    What most of you really are discussing here is how long the winning time of a long distance (regardless of gender) should be. Almost all of arguments I read here are arguments to decrease the long distance winning time for the men to 70 minutes. That could be a possible solution, and I would prefer that to having an unequal winning time like we have today. (But in that case, maybe 50 min long distance would be even better? Or 40 min? Then it would be even easier for the runners further down the result list, and from a TV point of view it would be perfect!)

    I really like the long distance, and to have 100 min race is an absolute delight. It is super tough, and so much fun. If the men’s long distance would be shortened to 70 min I would be completely devastated. A 100 min orienteering race is one of the toughest and most enjoyable things you can do!

    Why are we men so reluctant on letting the women enjoy the same tough race? What are we afraid of? It is possible, of course, that if the women are allowed the same proper long distance as the men, the status of the female athlete will go up, and that the women’s long distance World Champion will get as much attention as the men’s. I believe that to be a good thing, but maybe a lot of the men are afraid of the competition. Maybe this is a too big step towards equality for the men (because lets face it: it is almost exclusively men) in charge of IOF to take.

    I really hope that the long distance will have the same winning time regardless of gender, and I really hope that that time will be 100 minutes.

    • | Why is it tougher for a female first year senior to run a 100 min long distance, than it is for a male?

      It is easy for you who are one of the best runners to talk about that 100 min long distance for a female first year seniors. Worse for the female who would have been 25 minutes behind with 70 min winning time, and is now 40 min behind, running 140 min. The spread in the field is much larger in the women class than in the men. Fine enough for one race at the World Championships, but for every international long distance? Is this a good way to increase the interest for the long distance among women, or is it a good way to kill the long distance?

      • I am skeptical as well, cause definitely we will get more runner’s collapses with new WT. Also it is not cool to watch how exhausted girls are dragging during uphill or walking/jogging to the finish (I am not talking about few top runners). There are gonna be a lot of such pictures as well as huge numbers of girls with finish time more then 2 hours. As for top girls – I expect serious influence of pack formations on the medal positions.

        Both happenings are bad to promote our sport!

      • The difference between the winning times starts already at about the age of 15-16. I believe that if we from beginning, from that young age, let women run the same time as men, nobody would find it more difficult for young female orienteers to make the jump to the senior class.

      • Third year senior

        I’ve been running the last leg of 10Mila in an age of 16 with nearly a doubled winning time.

        I’ve been running the Swedish Leauge vallåsen long distance, at my first year as a senior, and lost a hell of time in the butterfly at the end of the course.

        I ran the SL long distance last weekend in Brösarp and lost more or less 1min/km. It has taken 2 years of training to be better, to face the long distance with a better feeling the moments before start.

        I think that woman should have the opportunity to face the difficult in a long distance and to feel the happiness to succeed a tough long distance. But most of all I wouldn’t like to see the men’s distance become shorter.

    • I think the concern is not about women having the 100 minutes WT. If women want the 100 minutes WT, let them have it. The concern is if women decide: “We don’t want 100 min WT, we only want 80 min, but we also want ‘equality’ and therefore we insist that men have 80 min WT as well, even if the majority of men don’t want it.” I think that would be wrong. I think both men and women being comfortable with their respective winning times (even if they are different) is more important than the equality of the winning times.

  30. Of course all distances should be the same time-wise for men/women.

    My 2 cents worth:
    Sprint 12-14min (not 17/18min)
    Middle 30min (not 35-40min)
    Long 80min

    All these times sufficiently satisfy the technical requirements for each distance, and they make competing to the best of one’s ability in several disciplines in a competition week more realistic for more athletes.

    • Two World class runners in Long D – Natalia Vinogradova (5th place at Long-WOC-2015) and Galina Vinogradova (5th place at Long-EOC-2014) are strictly against idea of new WT. Both of them are tough and enduring women and don’t afraid to compete at Ultra-Long courses.

      But the main reason – is that recovery after Long D should be enough to successfully compete in Sprint, Relay, Sprint Relay, Middle events. Let say, at EOC usually one discipline is coming immediately after another and 20-30 extra-minutes to Long D matter!

      Waiting for survey to hear about positions of other World class female runners.

  31. WOC female participants does not train as hard/much as male participants. If we are looking only the time, why top 50 women doesn’t have as many traininghours per year like top 50 men? Maybe just womens 75% is equal with mens 100%. But in competition both genders are giving 100% of their capacity. That’s why womens 75 minutes with 100% effort is as hard as mens 100 minutes with 100% effort.

  32. About prestige and gender equality:
    As a female orienteer who actually have won a WOC long distance, I must say, that I have not felt like my win was not as prestigious as the men’s win. We do not run as long as the men, but as long as all my female competitors goes all in for the competition and have been training towards this competition for a long time, then we (my female competitors) define the prestige of this competition. The top male orienteers are really nice people and I got a lot of acknowledge from many of them after my win at WOC long last year so they are neither the ones who make the female LD win seem less prestigious. There might be journalist or people outside our sport who thinks that the female orienteers are weak because their long distance is not with a winning time of 100 min., but actually I do not care.
    For me gender equality is about accepting and respecting the genders on their different terms, it is not about having them do everything the same way. We are two different genders who are equally worthy to the world, but we are different and I am actually glad about that.

  33. I really like long races, but I also like to be as well prepared as possible for every race, and meet the best competition I can get. If the long distance gets too long (more than 75 min), it is far from optimal to combine it with two other races the same weekend (often sprint and middle). I would have to reduce the number of long distances I run in a year, and maybe skip the races prior to the long distance.

    I think it would be wise to compare orienteering to small international sports like cross-country skiing and biathlon. They have tight competition schedules, with 2-4 races per weekend. The longest competition is won in about 75 min for the men (the famous 50k is longer, but only held twice a year), and this makes it possible for the best athletes to compete often and take part in all races. This makes the races more interesting for the spectators, but also for the athletes themselves, who get to compete against the best every time they stand on the starting line.

  34. What is a long distance?
    Have women equal possibilities to men to prepare?

    Different distances test different abilities probably, otherwise it would be enough with just one distance to judge the winner of a championship!

    Sprint för very fast decisions and running, middle för the technical orientering, ultra long distance for extreme endurance and long distance for? (endurance without the need of prolonged recovery seems to have been suggested?).

    If long distance is to test endurance as well as the more technical part of rout-choice and orienteering it should probably last longer than the glycogen supply, so that the pacing and slower muscle fibers may make a difference? Probably around 80-90 minutes and 60 minutes would be to short! But 60 minutes is also quite a long time to train for (compare to half marathon).
    Men might generally run faster than women, but women are not less apt to withstand endurance in running, (slower pace might be better in the “long run” for endurance) so the women will last the whole distance. Men might spend more energy (and faster) due to higher speed an more muscles, so if they can do 100 minutes, I am sure women could as well if needed, or maybe even longer time than men (like in marathon).

    On the other hand we do not know if there are more or less women that will enjoy a longer time running?
    The should better answer that for themselves to begin with. But this will not automatically adjust the numbers of competitors that will train for long distance to be larger or equal, that will more likely be that there is equal resources for men and women to do the training needed.

  35. I leave my comment as a young..ish runner (24 years). I do not regard myself as a really good long distance runner (yet!) and I often found myself 8-15 minutes behind the winner on the result list. Nevertheless, I think it’s awesome. Long distance is a great challenge (as is middle and sprint as well, but a different kind of) and I personally think that it would be awesome if we got to run a bit longer than we do now.

    There is lot of good points earlier in this conversation, so I do not repeat those here. But I’d like to give you an example from last year: Swedish League long distance in Åmål. Extremely tough terrain and demanding courses; in my personal opinion maybe the coolest long distance I have ever run (even though I wasn’t that successful.)
    Women’s winning time: 1:36.23. Top3 within 38 seconds. This time, the competition was actually even tighter than men’s. The last girl in the E1 class finished 48 minutes behind the winner. To compare to Swedish league long distance last weekend, the winning time was 1:18 and the last girl was 59 minutes behind. Here’s a link to the results from last year, you can check it yourself.

    Of course, this is only one competition and probably not the whole truth, but my point is, that actually the gap didn’t get any bigger and there were as many girls in the competition as earlier. Some food for thought. :)


  36. Maria Magnusson

    I think we should leave the gender discussion out of this – it’s clearly clouding peoples’ judgement – and making you forget that humans, indivudiuals are different but also the same.

    The Question should be – what time should LD orienteering be?

    Anna Närhi – so glad you are the future!

  37. Why does the winning time need to change? It sounds to me like wider gender equality issues clouding people’s judgements. I’ve never thought the womens classic race less prestigous than the mens, who actually does?

    In athletics – the women use shorter hurdles over a shorter distance in the sprint hurdles, women use a lower weight in the shot put, the hurdles in the 400m are lower, the hurdles are lower in 3000m steeple chase, nobody thinks they are any less prestigous events.

    Enjoy the womens race for what it is rather than comparing it to the mens.

    • Morten Andersen

      If the winning times are equalized then the women races would still be shorter just like in the athletic disciplines you talked about. Right now middle distance is 10-20% longer (meters) for men but long is over 50% longer. You equalize the winning times and then it will be down to those 10-20% distance difference as well.

      I think this “question” is less about the why and more about “why not” and “how”.
      Since I’m neither a woman or an elite runner I don’t think my opinion is too relevant and Jan has done a good job of listing the possible “why nots” such as reduced participation, less competition for the top spots and more troublesome tv-coverage.
      I think the interesting question is relates to the “how” – should women elite runners decide how long the long distance should be? Or should it be decided by people who trying to market WoC better to the public? Can WoC have shorter distances than non-televized orienteering (both genders) or should the WoC be foremost tailored to what the elite runners want? Food for thought.

      • Morten Andersen

        By “question” i mean “should womens long distance be just as long as mens”

  38. I am speaking as one of those runners from the “smaller” orienteering nations. My best finish in the Long Distance was 52nd place, so I would undoubtedly be one of those athletes running 2+ hours with a 100min winning time, even though by the rules of my country, I am qualified to race at that level.

    To answer the first question: Yes, the men and women should absolutely have the same winning time. But we need to do that without shortening the men’s race.

    To answer the second question: I would love to see a 90-100min winning time. Yes, it means I will be running for a much longer time than the winner, but a 75 minute winning time is not the same physiological challenge as a 100 minute race. Maybe it will be bad for the media portrayal of the sport (runners straggling in long after the arena is being dismantled), but if we are going to call it a long distance race, let’s make it long. Women do not need “protecting” from the physical challenges of orienteering.

  39. In a discussion like this with a lot of “I think…” and “I mean…” it is usually interesting to check some facts. What are the majority of the runners actually doing? In the Norwegian Cup races in Halden the upcoming weekend there is sprint Friday, middle distance Saturday and long distance on Sunday. The estimated winning times are like normal: 35 minutes in the middle and 70/90 minutes in the long. In the middle there are 71 runners in the womens class and there are 142 runners in the mens class. In the long distance there are reported 53 women and 105 men. These numbers means that quite excactly 25% of both the women and men running the middle distance are not running the long distance. Probably because they think it is too long, and that they are not well enough trained to apreciate such a long course. The similar numbers in last years Norwegian championships were that 52% of the women running the middle distance skipped the long, and 48% of the men did the same.
    What will happen if the women’s course had an estimated winning time of 90-100 minutes? To me the numbers above indicate that a winning time of 70 minutes in the women’s class and 90 minutes in the men’s class seems to be more than enough. I don’t think it is a good idea to make a change that reduce the number of participants and make the long distance a interesting format for only the very best.
    Maybe you will say that this discussion is not about national competitions but about WOC. But the format of the national competitions has always been a copy of the WOC format, and in just some few years the length of the long distances in national championships and cup races will be the same as in WOC.

    • Emil Wingstedt

      Using statistics from national events is not necessarily relevant for international participation. In this case the statistics you provide are biased by veterans (and in other cases juniors) running elite classes in middle distance and their age class in long distance events. You can ask yourself if you think you’re not trained enough to appreciate such a long course on Sunday ;-), and whether that’s relevant in this discussion.

      I don’t believe the participation for women would decrease by increasing the LD winning time. There may be more specialization. With the split in forest- and sprint WOC organizers will have the possibility to secure enough recovery between the races for everyone to be able to run a longer LD without affecting the other races. Preferably by having the LD as the last race with a rest day before.

  40. Annika Billstam

    Every orienteer should have the same winning time in all disciplines, no reason why not. Of course this should be applied both in junior and senior class, to make the steps reasonable. Prolonging the EWT in women’s class is about correcting something which has been wrong from the beginning as many of you already mentioned. I don’t think the IOF Foot-O Athlete’s Commission survey is the way to go this time and especially not by pointing out the negative fears about a change.

    Just because we always done it this way doesn’t mean it’s right. It’s uncomfortable to change, but change is what makes progress.

  41. Change resistance. I’m hearing in this discussion same kind of arguments which appeared when colors came to the black-and-white maps.

  42. Marathon(Olympic discipline) is same for women and men. The best men runner run to 2.03 and women 2.18. So women could have 15 minutes longer LD than men ;).

  43. OK, mostly everybody seems to agree that men and women should have the same event-programme with the same distances. Why not bring this discussion up one more level then? What should the event-programme for forest races look like? Do we want to promote specialisation? Or is it more important to have “superstars” with 20+ WOC-medals in distances that are all pretty similar?

    If we have:

    – 30-35 min middle
    – 35-45 min relay
    – ? min long
    – 2h+ ultralong

    Do we even need the long distance? Physiologically it just sits there right in the no-mans-land between a normal endurance event and a marathon distance. Can we promote more specialisation by replacing it with a real fatburning, running economy testing, ultralong at the end of the championship?

  44. Discussion is going about different distances only by physical challenges. The sport is orienteering. Where is the mental aspect.

  45. I think the short winning time in the womens class is a relic from the time when orienteering was only one distance, the LD (first MD WOC in Marianske Lazne, 1991). Now, we have both MD and sprint. So today, if you find the LD too long, so run the MD or sprint (no matter the gender).

    I think standardized gender-neutral winning times is a good thing for the sport. Women will still run a bit shorter than the men as they run a bit slower (compared to athletics and swimming where women compete in the same DISTANCES as the men, and use LONGER times).

    Maybe we should have standardized non-championship distance between the MD and the LD (it’s a big gap in MD and LD).

  46. Knut Wiig Mathisen

    As this discussion has evolved a bit towards the competition program and race distances in general, here is my strong and long-lasting input:
    1) Competitions should have fixed running lengths.
    2) All races should be measured according to the length of longest route-choice that one or more of the good competitors are expected to choose
    3) The forest distances for men should be 6,9,18 and 30 km
    4) The forest distances for women should be 16.67% shorter (meaning equal winning times), 5,7.5,15 and 25 km
    5) The forest relay should have four legs, each 6 respectively 5 km
    6) The 6 (5) should be interval start as today
    7) The 9 (7.5) km should be a chase start based on the 6 (5) race
    8) The 30 (25) km should alternate with the 18 (15) km, with one race as interval start and one as mass start
    9) The full competition program for a championship week should be Day 1 (Saturday): 6(5) km; Day 2: 9 (7.5) km; Day 4: 18 (15) km; Day 6 Relay 4*6 (5) km; Day 8: 30 (25) km
    10) All competitors qualified for the championship allowed to enter the 6 (5) km distance, but only the best 40 on the 9 (7.5) km. Instead non-qualified runners for the chase start run a qualification race that same day to qualify for the 18 (15) km. Mass start race entry limited and based on previous results during the week.

    To limit the length of this article I will not argue for each of the proposed changes, but yes, it is inspired by biathlon and cross-country skiing. Why not, these are very popular events in almost all the leading top orienteering countries (Norway, Sweden, Finland, Russia, Latvia, Estonia, France, Germany, Suisse etc)?