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JWOC 2016 Long Men: GPS and Splits Analysis

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The men’s class in the Junior World Championships (JWOC) Long distance 2016 had many potential winners who had the speed to win the race, but of these nobody got through the race without technical mistakes. 

As the following analysis will show, Swiss Joey Hadorn had so high running speed that he could afford more than 2 minutes of mistakes (see the largest one on the 6th control above) and still win the race with nearly a minute. The following analysis takes you through the decision points in the race were the potential medal winners lost their chance to take a medal – and were the medal winners were better than their competitors. Find a good chair and something good to drink – this is a rather long analysis article.

Note! An analysis of the women’s race will be published this evening tomorrow morning.

Race overview

We start with a quick race overview. Joey Hadorn (Switzerland) won 52 seconds ahead of Thomas Curiger (Switzerland) with Isac von Krusenstierna (Sweden) in 3rd at 2:04. Joey Hadorn won only 5 of 23 legs – while Thomas Curiger was the most stable runner, loosing 49 seconds or less to the leg winner on all legs.

Norwegian Olai Stensland Lillevold took the lead at the first control before last year’s Junior World Champion Long distance Olli Ojanaho took the lead and kept it until the 4th control. At the 5th control he lost 33 seconds, and the eventual winner Joey Hadorn took over the lead for the first time. Hadorn was only in the lead for one control – loosing 80 seconds at the 6th control and falling down to 14th place. Olli Ojanaho then took over the lead, but already at the 7th control Simon Hector took over, leading until the 11th control due to a time loss of 1:17 at the 12th control up a steep hill.  Here Hadorn took over the lead and never gave it away.

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Start to control 4

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The first four control were set in quite open and fast runnable terrain. There were actually quite big time differences among the top runners already in this first part. Of the top 10 finishers, three lost more than 30 seconds by not taking the route to the left (taken by most of the best).

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The second control also gave trouble and around 15 seconds time loss for several – of them also Joey Hadorn who looses 20 seconds. It looks like most of the ones taking this control from the right loose time, getting too far to the right and having to relocate.

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Here is a video by the organizers showing how it looks like when you actually run this leg. Can you spot why so many did mistakes here?

At the third control, there is again some trouble for Hadorn (lost time at 2nd control) and Ahola (lost time at 1st control). From here Ahola and Hadorn are together until control number 12 – Ahola is behind all the time according to the split times.

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After trouble for many of the top finishers at the three first controls, we get this list at control 4:

Junior Men (M20): Standings control 4

1. Olli Ojanaho (29th) 6:58 +0:00
2. Thomas Curiger (2nd) 7:07 +0:09
3. Tobia Pezzati (26th) 7:08 +0:10
4. Olai Stensland Lillevold (19th) 7:10 +0:12
5. Vegard Jarvis Westergard (14th) 7:10 +0:12
6. Mathias Peter (46th) 7:13 +0:15
7. Simon Hector (4th) 7:13 +0:15
10. Anton Kuukka (10th) 7:17 +0:19
11. Joey Hadorn (1st) 7:20 +0:22
21. Matous Furst (5th) 7:42 +0:44
25. Isac von Krusenstierna (3rd) 7:46 +0:48
26. Riccardo Scalet (7th) 7:48 +0:50
30. Dag Blandkjenn (6th) 7:52 +0:54
56. Jakub Dekret (9th) 8:30 +1:32
84. Topias Ahola (8th) 9:23 +2:25

Remarkable here is that only 3 of the runners who end up in the Top10 are in the Top10 after 4 controls – many have struggled in the opening part of the race. Topias Ahola is all the way down in 84th spot.

Routechoice leg to control 5

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The leg to control 5 was a routechoice leg where you could choose to either run up to a path and take the control from above or run down to a path and take the control from below. The climb was approximately equivalent for both options. The two routes seem to be equivalent, with von Krusenstierna running the fastest split on the lower (rightmost) route and Hadorn running the second fastest split on the upper route. The top runners loosing time here are more due to running longer to get to the path earlier or about execution of the leg.

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Several other runners were in real trouble here, loosing minutes in the last meters into the control. This includes Norwegians Olai Stensland Lillevold and Oskar Størmer who both had a good start of the race. Also note Swiss Tobi Pezzati loosing more than four minutes here.

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Leg 6: Tricky control

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If leg 5 was tricky, leg 6 is very tricky. On this control down the steeo slope several runners had trouble. Hadorn managed to turn the map around 180 degrees while running down this steep slope – a mistake which could have cost him the gold medal if some of the other runners would have had a perfect day.

In addition to Hadorn, Dag Bladkjenn (finishing 6th) and Ahola had trouble of the Top10 finishers.

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Junior Men (M20): 5-6 (Total times)

1. Olli Ojanaho (29th) 12:53 +0:00
2. Simon Hector (4th) 12:56 +0:03
3. Audun Heimdal (22nd) 13:02 +0:09
4. Thomas Curiger (2nd) 13:07 +0:14
5. Isac von Krusenstierna (3rd) 13:12 +0:19
6. Riccardo Rancan (13th) 13:16 +0:23
7. Vegard Jarvis Westergard (14th) 13:20 +0:27
8. Tommy Hayes (30th) 13:41 +0:48
9. Anton Forsberg (11th) 13:47 +0:54
10. Anton Kuukka (10th) 13:51 +0:58
13. Matous Furst (5th) 13:55 +1:02
15. Joey Hadorn (1st) 13:58 +1:05
21. Riccardo Scalet (7th) 14:08 +1:15
27. Dag Blandkjenn (6th) 14:33 +1:40
45. Jakub Dekret (9th) 15:45 +2:52
50. Topias Ahola (8th) 15:59 +3:06

Note how Hadorn is now down in 15th place, 1:05 behind the current leader Olli Ojanaho (29th in the end). Ahola is now up to 50th place, but more than 3 minute behind. In third place is Norwegian Audun Heimdal. Note also Swiss Riccardo Rancan in 6th place (13th in the end), only 23 seconds behind the leader. Norwegian Westergård (7th here, 14th in the end) is also within 30 seconds behind.

Leg 7: Routechoice leg

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The leg to control 7 is a routechoice leg where you can either go around saving height (and power) and running significantly longer – or go straight and fight yourself up another hill. According to the course setters, going around should be preferred to save power.

Looking at the split times, Simon Imark runs the best time on this leg on the straight route – 7 seconds faster than Hadorn/Ahola who have the second best time and runs around. Thus the two routes seem to be nearly equivalent time-wise. Again execution of the leg and mistake within the control circle is what makes runners loose time: The eventual bronze medal winner Isac von Krusenstierne looses 1:30 due to a mistake within the circle.

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Short transport leg

Another two seemingly easy controls before the spectator control. First the 8th control were Curiger has one of his largest time losses to the best split – 32 seconds.

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Routechoice leg to spectator control

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The next leg is a routechoice leg down to the spectator control. Here you can either choose to go right and use the path and the open area to make the control easy and run fast – or you can go left or straight down through the forest. This is one of the legs in this course where the choice of route was most important. Of the top runners, the ones going left or straight lost 20 to 40 seconds – of these Joey Hadorn who looses 44 seconds to the best split time and Olli Ojanaho who looses 49 seconds.

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Norwegian Audun Heimdal was in 2nd place at the 8th control, only 7 seconds behind. At the leg down towards the spectator control Heimdal however does a big mistake, losing more than 5 minutes and the possibility to fight for gold and medals.

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This gives the following standing at 9th control which is the spectator control:

Junior Men (M20): 8-9 (Total times)

1. Simon Hector (4th) 20:20 +0:00
2. Riccardo Rancan (13th) 20:55 +0:35
3. Olli Ojanaho (29th) 20:58 +0:38
4. Thomas Curiger (2nd) 21:04 +0:44
5. Isac von Krusenstierna (3rd) 21:38 +1:18
6. Vegard Jarvis Westergard (14th) 21:41 +1:21
7. Joey Hadorn (1st) 21:45 +1:25
8. Matous Furst (5th) 21:55 +1:35
9. Anton Kuukka (10th) 22:02 +1:42
10. Anton Forsberg (11th) 22:07 +1:47
11. Riccardo Scalet (7th) 22:08 +1:48
15. Dag Blandkjenn (6th) 22:21 +2:01
30. Topias Ahola (8th) 23:46 +3:26
55. Jakub Dekret (9th) 25:38 +5:18

Simon Hector from Sweden is now leading the race. Hadorn is down in 7th position, 1:25 behind. Note how there are still four runners in the top 10 at this point in the race who don’t make it in the top 10 in the end – Ojanaho, Rancan, Westergård, Forsberg.

Route choice leg to control 10

Next up is the longest leg in the course – and also a change in the terrain.

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Due to the steep cliffs which are marked as forbidden, there are three main variants due be chosen on the first part of the leg. On the second part of the there are again two choices (regardless of the choice on the first part of the leg) – either go straight up through the terrain, or use the path as much as possible.

Hadorn ran an exceptional leg, with a straight route in 8:49 the pair Hadorn/Ahola (with Ahola struggling to keep up the speed of Hadorn) are more than half a minute behind the second fastest runner, Isac von Krusenstierna. Looking at the routes of the ones either finishing top 10 or being placed Top10 at the spectator control, it is evident that many loose time on this leg: 10 of the 13 runners in Top10 either in the finish or at the spectator control loose 49 seconds or more. Both Forsberg, Westergård and Rancan loose loose nearly 2 minutes here, pushing them slowly out of the Top10.

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However, there is no clear relation between routechoice and timeloss. To look into that, we have to go further into the details of why the runners loose time here. First comparing Hadorn and Krusenstierna who has the third fastest split, we see that this time difference is mostly due to running speed – especially in the uphills.

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Comparing von Krusenstierna with the fastest on the rightmost route, Thomas Curiger, shows that Curiger’s route is equivalent down to the road, but Curiger looses time by going straight up the hill instead of taking the road further as von Krusenstierna and Hadorn. Thus the conclusion here is that the timelosses seen here are not due to main routechoice, but rather due to micro routechoices and execution. The exeption here is Rancan’s route which is at least 30 seconds slower due to the steep hill you have to go down.

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Leg 10: The tricky leg

Next up is leg 10 – the leg which destroyed Olli Ojanaha’s chances for repeating last year’s success in Rauland, Norway.

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The course setters had anticipated that this would be a tricky control, and had actually prepared a video which was shown in the TV-production which explained exactly how to think when taking this leg (it is highly recommended to view this video).

Olli Ojanaho went too high up, probably not taking time to look at his compass at the crucial point when looking down into the depression, as Raffael Huber highlighted in the video. This cost the Finn 6(!) minutes – and any possibility to fight for a medal.

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Ojanaho was not the only one loosing time here. Of the favourites, note Riccardo Rancan who was Top6 at the spectator control, but now looses 3:25 here after already loosing nearly two minutes on the previous leg.

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This gives the following standing at the 11th control:

Junior Men (M20): Standing at control 11

1. Simon Hector (4th) 31:36 +0:00
2. Joey Hadorn (1st) 32:13 +0:37
3. Thomas Curiger (2nd) 32:31 +0:55
4. Isac von Krusenstierna (3rd) 32:40 +1:04
5. Matous Furst (5th) 33:37 +2:01
6. Riccardo Scalet (7th) 34:00 +2:24
7. Vegard Jarvis Westergard (14th) 34:10 +2:34
8. Topias Ahola (8th) 34:20 +2:44
9. Anton Forsberg (11th) 34:27 +2:51
10. Anton Kuukka (10th) 34:28 +2:52
12. Dag Blandkjenn (6th) 35:02 +3:26
35. Jakub Dekret (9th) 37:39 +6:03

Simon Hector keeps the lead, 37 seconds ahead of Joey Hadorn. Now the medalists are up in 2nd, 3rd and 4th though, and the results are starting to get set.

Leg 12: Routechoice & tough uphill

The 12th control is a tough uphill leg with 50 meters climb which also has a routechoice element:

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Here you can either run out to the road and run with high speed to an easy control location close to the road – or you can run significantly shorter straight up the hill, but with a more tricky control taking situation.

Of the top runners, only Riccardo Scalet runs straight, loosing more than a minute to Hadorn – the others take the road. This is another exceptional leg of Hadorn, who runs 18 seconds faster than anybody else up this 50 meter climb, mostly on road. The current leader Simon Hector looses 1:17 to Hadorn, partly due to non-optimal route out to the road and partly due to slower running speed.

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Curiger on the other hand has nearly the speed of Hadorn, but still looses 44 seconds. He runs straight out of the control before turning left onto the road, loosing 40 seconds due to this mistake.

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Several other Top10-runners loose time here as well, but these loose time mainly due to the tough uphill as they run close to the optimal route of Hadorn.

From the illustration below you can see how the field spread out – many loosing significant time here.

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Control 13: Another tough uphill leg

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A short and easy leg, but the Swedes are getting tired. Hector looses 26 seconds, von Krusenstierna looses 22 seconds.

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Now we have the following standing at control 13 which was also a TV-control:

Junior Men (M20): Standing at control 13

1. Joey Hadorn (1st) 38:25 +0:00
2. Simon Hector (4th) 39:31 +1:06
3. Thomas Curiger (2nd) 39:37 +1:12
4. Isac von Krusenstierna (3rd) 39:54 +1:29
5. Matous Furst (5th) 40:19 +1:54
6. Topias Ahola (8th) 41:04 +2:39
7. Riccardo Scalet (7th) 41:46 +3:21
8. Dag Blandkjenn (6th) 41:50 +3:25
9. Anton Kuukka (10th) 41:54 +3:29
10. Vegard Jarvis Westergard (14th) 42:03 +3:38
24. Jakub Dekret (9th) 44:08 +5:43

Now we have Hadorn in the lead – a lead Hadorn never gives away again. Simon Hector is down to second – and will soon fall further down on the results list due to lower running speed. Except for Westergård who goes out of the Top10 and Dekret who goes into the Top10 (after being caught up by Furst), we now have all the runners who are in the Top10 in the finish within the Top10.

Potential routechoice leg to 14

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Leg 14 was planned by the course planners to be a routechoice leg, but eventually everybody was too tired to take another steep hill. All the Top10 runners ran around – and only two of the 60 runners with GPS took the hill – Størmer from Norway loosing 4 minutes and Leinonen from Finland loosing 3 minutes. It is simply too easy to go around.

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Routechoice leg to 15

The 15th control provided a real routechoice leg again. Going around to the left and saving climb, or direct and take some extra climb into the control.

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Here Curiger runs a very good route to the left, winning the leg with 14 seconds. Hadorn makes a mistake into the control, loosing 44 seconds to Curiger. The ones running straight loose nearly a minute, but half of this due to making mistakes into the control.

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Of the ones going straight, nearly all loose significant time and have problem keeping the direction.

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Short & tricky leg to 16

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A short leg to 16 in tricky terrain gives some mistakes by the top runners. Here is a video of the leg showing what the runners where up to:

One of the runners loosing time here is Hadorn, who looses 25 seconds to the best split time – loosing significant time for the second control in a row.

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This gives the following overall standing at control 16:

Junior Men (M20): 16-17 (Total times)

1. Joey Hadorn (1st) 50:13 +0:00
2. Thomas Curiger (2nd) 51:03 +0:50
3. Isac von Krusenstierna (3rd) 51:37 +1:24
4. Simon Hector (4th) 51:46 +1:33
5. Matous Furst (5th) 52:41 +2:28
6. Dag Blandkjenn (6th) 54:14 +4:01
7. Riccardo Scalet (7th) 55:07 +4:54
8. Topias Ahola (8th) 55:11 +4:58
9. Anton Kuukka (10th) 55:31 +5:18
10. Riccardo Rancan (13th) 55:49 +5:36
14. Jakub Dekret (9th) 56:37 +6:24

Due to the two mistakes by Hadorn, Curiger has now reduced the lead to 50 seconds – the closest Curiger gets. Note that all the 8 best are in the same order here as in the finish. Only Dekret is in 14th here – but goes up to 9th in the finish.

Final part of the course

Some mistakes are done in the final part of the course, but none decisive for the final results. Below are some illustrations.

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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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One comment

  1. Thanks – a most enjoyable and informative read.