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Florian Howald: About Course of the Year 2017


Swiss world class athlete Florian Howald chose a sprint course as his favourite course in 2017.  

Read on for a long interview with Swiss upcoming star Florian Howald – a runner who is very close to climbing all the way to the top of the podium in important races. This interview is part of the “Course of the Year 2017″ contest organized by World of O. In the introduction article you can suggest YOUR favourite course for “Course of the Year 2017″ – there are prizes to be won worth more than 4500 Euro.

Q: What was the best course you run in 2017 – and why?

For me, the Sprint Final in Lohja in the 1st World Cup round was the best course in 2017, because it offered interesting routechoices on almost every leg. During the race, the different options on the routechoices looked often very similar to my eye, but the legs were decisive and I lost several times quite a lot of time. In the analysis after the race in the Swiss Team, even Daniel Hubmann (later World Champion ;-) said he thought he had a pretty good race and was surprised to loose that much time to the fastest.
World Cup Round 1 Finland Sprint Men

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Q: What was the most interesting orienteering terrain you run in in 2017 – and why?
I really much liked the terrain of the WOC Middle Distance (and Relay). Often, the WOC terrains are no surprise at all to the runners. Even though I spent quite much time in Estonia preparing for WOC, I knew the terrain of the Middle will be special – and it was! Detailed contour features with quite much dense vegetation but still fast runnable made this terrain really interesting and the WOC Middle the most tricky race I ran in 2017.
Q: Usually the courses in interesting terrains are the ones you remember. But can you remember a very good course you ran in “boring” terrain this year?
An example of a good course in rather boring terrain was the World Games Sprint Relay in Wroclaw Zoo. With the arena near the famous centennial hall in Wroclaw there was quite much „transport“ distance to the Zoo, which was though covered by longer route choices. Also the Zoo didn’t offer too much tricky sprint terrain, but again some interesting route choices around the various animal enclosures where also the forkings were well included made this Sprint Relay a good course.
World Games Sprint Relay leg 3 - 2017

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Q: What is the worst course you ran in 2017?
That was the most difficult question for me, since I rarely get to run bad courses. The Swiss Night Champs come to my mind as a race where I run a lot on the roads, much more than usually, even for „Swiss“ standards. Especially the longer legs in the course were such that it was often the fastest to run on the roads for most of the leg.
Swiss Champs Night 2017

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Q: What is the most interesting course you ran (or saw) in your own home country in 2017?
Thinking about Switzerland, the most interesting course for me was the World Cup Long Distance course above Grindelwald. Even for me as a Swiss already the way to the start on mountain hiking trails with a great panorama was special. Then the course offered various challenges such as steep slope orienteering, detailed controls, up- & downhill parts plus also long legs (such as ) where you could loose the race.
Q: Did you set any courses in 2017? If so, is it possible to share the best (in your opinion) with World of O’s readers?
Middle Training, Astano, Ticino (EOC18 similar terrain):
I set a pretty nice course for an EOC 2018 terrain for Elena and some Swedes who trained with her in summer. Already the map is special, since the Swiss-Italian border goes through the map with a thick and high fence. I tried to make a Middle course with rather lot turns & controls to train the control circle work.
Q: What is the most interesting routechoice leg you remember from 2017? Did you take the right choice?
Apart from the above mentioned long leg 11-12 in the Long Distance race in World Cup Switzerland; one important route choice leg for me was leg 15-16 in the Middle WOC Test-Race in Estonia.

In the hilly terrain (with 2.5m curves) I ran around and lost a lot of time to the ones taking a straighter option. It is not really an interesting leg, but for me it had a great impact on my WOC preparation and I decided to try to run as close to the line as possible.
Here is the complete course:
Swiss WOC Test Middle 2017

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Q: You had an incredible success in 2017 – has that lead to any changes for you? A door-opener for new opportunities?
I haven’t made any big chances after 2017, I think that’s not too bad. The training environment in Swiss Team was and still is really good; futher the preparation & racing of the Big Relays with Tampereen Pyrintö is always a good experience.
Q: What is the race you look most forward to in 2018?
That’s an easy one, even though it’s not only one race, but the whole series of races: the European Championships in Ticino on homeground. I really looking forward to racing in these nice terrains were we will have a really great atmosphere with the entusiastic Swiss fans.
Q: What are your goals for next year – and do you plan to change your training and/or focus in order to reach your goals in 2018?
My goal surely is to fight for medals in EOC. I haven’t planned any major training changes or focus on any distance. I try to invest in my physical fitness especially focusing on the power training part, since the uphill running will be crucial in Ticino.

Q: Thanks a lot for the interview – and good luck for next season!

Prizes from our Sponsors

Prizes from our Sponsors always makes it more fun! There will be a prize for the first one suggesting the course which ends up becoming “The course of the Year 2017″, and prizes drawn among the ones suggesting and voting. All prizes are transferable to other persons (you don’t have to travel yourself).

Event sponsor: Latvia O-week 2018. August 3rd – 12th 2018

  • Prize offered: Competition package for 2 persons – including entry to 6 races (two sprints in Riga, two middle distances in city Sigulda, a long distance in Sigulda and a long distance in Ādaži), 9 nights accommodation during World Orienteering Championships for 2 person in fully serviced apartment (from 4th to 11th of August, 2018). Value about 900 Euro. Transferable to other persons.
  • We invite you to the World Orienteering Championships 2018 and Latvia O-week! Latvia O-Week is the WOC2018 Spectator race, a six days long orienteering adventure in Latvia. Discover Latvia for yourself: It is a small pearl of the Baltic countries where you will be able to enjoy a very special flavour of orienteering in the cultural, architectural and historical aura of Riga and Sigulda. 2018 is the year of Latvia’s 100th anniversary. Special preparations for this occasion are on-going in Latvia, and LATVIA O-Week will be among the centenary celebration events. The participants of LATVIA O-WEEK will be the lucky ones to explore orienteering areas similar to those anticipated at the WMOC. More information at


Event sponsor: MOC Training Camp + MOC Championships, Catalunya. February 18th – 25th 2018

  • Prize offered: Package for 2 people consisting of accommodation and entry fee for MOC Training Camp and MOC Championship 18th-25th February 2018. Value 900 Euro. Transferrable to other persons.
  • A great combination of the 6th MOC Sprint Camp (18th to 23rd February 2018) and XIV edition of MOC Mediterranean Open Championship Orienteering (23rd to 25th of February 2018). The camp inlcudes 8 organized set of trainings + seminars. Head coach: Emil Wingstedt. Lectures by Emil Wingstedt and Tim Robertson.  The Championship includes 3 races in Tarragona.


 Software sponsor: OCAD Orienteering 12

  • Prize offered: One licence for the software “OCAD Orienteering 12″.  Value about 590 Euro. Transferable to other person (before activation).
  • More information: OCAD 12 Orienteering – Perfect to Produce Orienteering Maps. This edition is dedicated for orienteering map making with a step-by-step wizard for analyzing of LiDAR data, mobile geodata capturing, smart editing and drawing tools, generalization tools, desktop publishing, course setting and much more. Read more at


Event sponsor: Andalucia O-Meeting 2018 + Training package. February 26th – March 4th

  • Prize offered: AOM Competition Package – including entry to 5 events (night, prologue, middle, sprint, long), 5 nights accommodation in Apartamentos Leo and a 6-map package to train before or after the event. Value about 455 Euro. Transferable to other persons.
  • 2 WRE’s in sweet terrains and maps, a friendly atmosphere and mild climate! More info at


Event sponsor: Wawel Cup 2018. July 4th – 8th 2018

  • Prize offered: 2 packages – each for 2 people – consisting of entry to full Wawel Cup 37th edition + accommodation in hotel + Wawel Cup T-shirt. Value about 400 euro. Transferable to other persons.
  • After a couple of years, Wawel Cup is back in rocky terrains. Wawel Cup 37 comprises the biggest rocks in Jura (Poland), the possibility of seeing the medieval castles and beautiful surrounding nature! And foremost challenging terrains and orienteering… on the highest level. Together we will make it a real worldwide orienteering running feast!


Event sponsor: PIOM 2018. February 17th – 18th 2018

  • Prize offered: 4 packages – each for 2 persons – transferable to other person. Consisting of complete entry to PIOM 2018 – 3 official races (Middle, night sprint and Long WRE) + 2 model events + lunches at the Arena during 2 competition days. Value about 340 EUR.
  • PIOM 2018 will be organized the third Orienteering Weekend in Portugal during the winter time with one WRE Long Distance stage, just 3 days after POM 2018. February in Portugal is considered by many as the official opening of the competition season for its high quality organization and for receiving the top runners of the world. We expect to have more than 1000 runners. Besides some new areas, updated cartography, challenging terrains and courses, you’ll be able to experience the rich gastronomy, as the famous cheese, olive oil and honey (considered among the best in the world). Have a chance to enjoy the friendship of locals and explore the beautiful and untouched nature.  The WRE day will be the long distance on 18th Feb. More at


Event sponsor: WOC 2019 spectator races. August 12th – 18th 2019

  • Prize offered: ’Competition Package for 2 persons – including entry to all spectator events during WOC 2019 south of Oslo, Norway. Value estimated to at least 275 Euro. Transferable to other persons.
  • Beautiful terrain and great maps with world championships atmosphere – follow the stars and run in the same beautiful area! Be among the first who are officially ready for WOC 2019. More info to come at


 Event sponsor: Easter4 2018. March 30th – April 2nd 2018

  • Prize offered: One package for 2 people – consisting of: Entry for the Easter4 competition on the Cres island, Croatia + accommodation in pension (B&B). Value about 250 Euro. Transferable to other persons.
  • In 2018 Easter4 moves to Cres island, Croatia. The race will again be organized by the same team and quality standard as you might be used from Lipica open, OOcup and Bubo cup. Beautiful terrain of ancient Tramuntana forest will satisfy even the pickiest among orienteering enthusiasts. More at


Event sponsor: Bubo Cup. July 10th – 14th 2018

  • Prize offered: 2 packages, each for 2 people consisting of entries for all 4 days of Bubo Cup 2018, Bubo Cup event T-shirt and training map for each. Value about 250 Euro. Transferable to other persons.
  • More information: After 3 years on Cres island, Bubo cup is coming back to Slovenia where it was originally started. The concept remains the same; high quality orienteering very close to the Adriatic coast & early morning starts to let the participants enjoy the sun and the sea after the competitions. Read more at


Event sponsor: Bergen Sprint Camp 2018. March 16th – 18th 2018

  • Prize offered: Package for 2 people consisting of free start for all 4 high quality sprint competitions March 16th – 18th 2017 + dinner + swimming.  Value about 210 Euro. Transferable to other persons.
  • More information: For the 8th time, BSC is held in the city center of Bergen, Norway – established as one of the best sprint weekends organized, with several top WOC runners using it as part of their preparations. This time the camp is moved to March. We provide all participants with challenging courses, good maps and interesting analysis of the sessions – hoping to improve the sprint orienteering technique for everyone. See more at – including all courses and analysis from previous editions of BSC.



About Jan Kocbach

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

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