Yannick Michiels was one of the biggest names on the international orienteering scene this autumn after winning two straight World Cup Sprint races – in Switzerland and in China, and topping the World Ranking Sprint after the season.
The fast Belgian athlete is a sprint orienteering specialist, but still enjoys orienteering in the forest. Read more about Michiels’ favourite courses in 2019 below.
This interview is part of the “Course of the Year 2019″ contest organized by World of O. In the introduction article you can suggest YOUR favourite course for “Course of the Year 2019″ – there are prizes to be won worth more than 6000 Euro.
Interview Yannick Michiels
Q: What was the best forest course you run in 2019- and why?
Last summer, I was in Southern France on holidays. After some days in Nice, we moved up to the mountains where I ran the O’France 5 days. The 3rd stage was held around Vars – Les Claux, a ski resort with the start up at Col de Vars (2109 masl).
I really enjoyed the amazing views over the surrounding mountains.
The terrain was mostly very runnable, but we passed some rough and stony areas.
As I run a lot of elite events during the year where the pressure on competing and good results is high, I loved this lower key event for once.
Q: What was the best sprint course you run in 2019 – and why?
I did run a lot of sprint races (and trainings) in 2019, so it was a bit harder to find the best one. Actually all courses of the World Cup Knock Out Sprint in Switzerland were really cool. I haven’t raced so much KO-Sprint yet, but this time I really liked the diverse terrains and courses we had to face during that day.
I’m not a big fan of tactical racing in orienteering, but this time, the organizers made four challenging courses
For us, as athletes, this is a very intense day. If you make it to the Final, you race four times and do over 30km of running (including warm up & cool down). I’m not a big fan of tactical racing in orienteering, but this time, the organizers made four challenging courses. Hopefully also at WOC next year, we’ll get fair and exciting races. [Editors comment: See WorldofO-article about the race with all maps here]
Q: What was the most interesting orienteering terrain you run in in 2019 – and why?
Often you meet more exciting terrains in training, than at races. Last October I was in Finland, for a short camp with my Finnish club Turun Metsänkävijät. Close to their clubhouse in Kemio (Turku), there is a map called Långhagaberget, a bare rock terrain with good runnability.
Most people think I’m only a sprinter, but I really enjoy this kind of orienteering as well.
The map is old, but still useable for training. We did some night training there and last autumn, arriving late in Finland, we went straight from the airport to this map. It rained and it was cold, but the nice terrain made me forget about that. Most people think I’m only a sprinter, but I really enjoy this kind of orienteering as well.
This is a version with contours only [Editors comment: Map quality is unfortunately not the best, but you get the message by looking at the map]:
Q: What is the most interesting course you ran (or saw) in your own home country in 2019?
I didn’t ran many races in Belgium last year, but we had some competitions in cool terrains. The Belgian Championships in Middle Distance was the forest race I enjoyed the most. I made a huge mistake to control 1, spending one third of my actual race time searching for that control. I wasn’t prepared for the low visibility and flat terrain and went out too hard from the start. When I finally got the control, I switched my mind and still went for it. I did ran the fastest time from control 1 to the finish, but only became 12th that race. By far one of my worst result in Belgium for a long time, but still liked every second of it.
ASOM in Oostende was once again the most challenging sprint race in 2019, with good courses and an high level start field. But this time the National Sprint Event in Bobbejaanland, came to my mind as most interesting sprint course. The small amusement park offered the perfect setting for a special event.
This time the National Sprint Event in Bobbejaanland, came to my mind as most interesting sprint course.
I preran the courses (as I wasn’t home during the actual race day) and running between the big attractions was something to remember. This kind of unique venues, are the most fun part of orienteering, allowing us to run around them.
[Editors comment: You can also check out a headcam-video from the race here:]
Q: What is the most interesting routechoice leg you remember from 2019? Did you take the right choice?
In March, I ran the Norwegian Sprintliga in Stavanger. The last event was a Knock Out Sprint with Runners’Choice in the Semi-Final. The course setter, made use of artificial barriers in the area with this self choice part which was very early in the course.
The course setter, made use of artificial barriers in the area with this self choice part which was very early in the course.
As runner, you’re a bit more under pressure with this self choice at the start. Most runners just looked on the forked part and didn’t had a closer look on the actual routechoice after control 1 (and where the Runners’Choice started).
It was funny to see how many runners ran into the trap (extra fence) just after punching the first control, as they were mostly focused on the forked part. I’m not a big fan of too many artificial barriers, but this time the course setter did a great job. I did see the trap and after running in the back of the group, I was the only one running around the bigger building straigh away. This gave me an early lead, which I could keep untill the finish (GPS-tracking available here).
Q: What is the race you look most forward to in 2020?
The World Orienteering Championships in Denmark, early July, is of course my main goal in 2020. Both individual races are important and I’m looking forward to this first Urban WOC. Also the World Cup in Switzerland, end of May, is very important and will be a good test before WOC. During the coming winter and months leading up to the World Championships, I’ll do some training camps and races as preparation. MOC Championships in Matera (Italy), is for sure one of the most exciting terrains to look forward to. Jukola in Rovaniemi (Finland) will be an highlight as well!
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 2020?
After winning the last two World Cup races in Sprint, I’m currently ranked first in the Sprint World Ranking. Going into 2020 with this results, gives me a high boost and I hope to show this at the World Championships in Denmark. I’ve been very close to a medal for many years, so I hope to fight for the first Belgian WOC medal next year. My training has been similar for many years and I’ve a great coach who knows me and my body well.
I hope to fight for the first Belgian WOC medal next year.
Also for 2020 I believe he’ll get me into my best shape for the main races of the year. Even though I’m mostly a sprinter, I’ll enjoy and do also some forest training (and racing).
Q: Have you got any comments about the development of international orienteering?
With not having a Sprint at the World Orienteering Championships 2019, it felt a bit weird to not have a goal in the summer time. I decided not to run in Norway and aim for the autumn season, as the World Cup races later in the year were mostly sprint focused. I’m still not sure if it’s the right decision to have this split WOC, but one way it’s good to have a 2 year preperation period for it now. I do hope IOF will priotorize the athletes in their event planning for the future. We want challenging, fair and diverse races, with equal chances for all athletes.
Q: Thanks a lot for your answers, Yannick – and happy winter training!
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 2019″, 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: Five Days of Italy 2020 – June 28th – July 3rd (Italy)
- Prize offered: BIG competition and hotel package for two persons, consisting of competition fee and hotel accommodation for 7 nights, half board. Value 1.520 EUR. Transferable to other persons.
- You are welcome in the Dolomites to 5 days Italy 2020 in Paganella Mountain, Fai della Paganella and beautiful “Dolomiti di Brenta”, amazing Trentino landscape. Read more at www.5daysitaly.it
Event sponsor: 53rd Kainuu Orienteering Week Finland (KOW), June 28th – July 3rd 2020 (Finland)
- Prize offered: 4 packages, each consisting of 2 free participations for the whole week in any class (competition classes or open courses) at Kainuu Orienteering Week 2020. Total value up to 800 EUR. Transferable to other persons.
- Kainuu O-Week is the biggest Finnish orienteering week, and it has been held annually since 1966 in Kainuu, Finland. The 2020 event will gather 5000-6000 participants from all around the world. The 2020 competition terrain is very suitable for all categories and perfect for running and orienteering – the orienteers will be running in the fast and beautiful pine forest terrain of Haverinen, consisting almost exclusively of pine forest of varying ages, in certain areas the contours are with small features. The visibility is mostly excellent, in some seedling areas slightly poorer. The ground is solid and clean; it is not stony. One river (Varisjoki), a few mires and ponds bring their own contribution to the orienteering tasks and landscape. For more information see www.rastiviikko.fi.
Event sponsor: Andalucia O Meeting – February 8th – 9th (Spain)
- Prize offered: Competition and Training Package with accommodation for 4 persons. The package includes entry to AndaluciaOMeeting 2020 for 4 persons, 3 nights accommodation in 4p Apartment Leo Deluxe and Training Package if you want to stay longer. Total value 650 EUR. Transferable to other persons.
- Fun organized (Sportident) trainings and competitions in surprising Huelva! More info at https://sun-o.com/en/event/
andalucia-o-meeting-2020/ & ht tps://sun-o.com/en/camp/ huelva-organized-camp/
Event Sponsor: EGK Swiss 5 Days 2020, May 20 – 24, 2019 (Neuchâtel, Switzerland)
- Prize offered: 2 packages, each for 2 free entries for the entire Swiss 5 Days Orienteering 2020 and spectator access to the 3 World Cup races. Total value 600 EUR, transferable to other persons.
- More information to these exciting races under: www.swiss5days2020.ch. Neuchâtel, the place to discover!
Event sponsor: Hungaria Cup – August 19th – 23rd 2020 (Hungary)
- Prize offered: 3 entry + accommodation packages, each for 2 persons. Each package consists of 2 free entries for all 5 days in any class at Hungaria Cup 2020 + accommodation. Total value up to 500 EUR. Transferable to other persons.
- More information: Hungaria Cup is Hungary’s biggest orienteering competition, held annually since the year 1967. This year we set camp at lake Velence close to Budapest. Terrains will include tricky open areas, mixed forests and a botanical garden. Those interested in more special orienteering challenges can try Paddle-O, Biathlon-O, Mobile-O and Beer-O. Come to enjoy orienteering and all kinds of leisure activities. Did we mention that we also have great wines? For more information see http://hungariakupa.tajfutas.hu/en
Event sponsor: Bergen Sprint Camp 2020 – March 20th-22nd (Norway)
- Prize offered: 2 full packages, each for 2 people. A package consists of 3 high quality sprint races, 2 sprint trainings and 1 dinner + presentation for 2 persons. Total value around 375 EUR. Transferable to other persons.
- The BSC organizing team warmly welcomes you to the 9th edition of Bergen Sprint Camp. This time as a World Ranking Event, as well as opening of the Norwegian Sprintliga 2020. Friday is the training day, followed by races in the weekend. All race maps will be updated to the new international sprint map standard. We always try our best to make maps, courses and the overall event as good and interesting as possible for every runner, from beginners to elite. All info at bergensprintcamp.com.
Software sponsor: OCAD Orienteering 3-year license
- Prize offered: One 3-year licence for the software “OCAD Orienteering″. Value about 350 EUR. Transferable to other person (before activation).
- More information: OCAD 2019 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 ocad.com.
Event sponsor: OOCup 2020 – July 28th-August 1st (France)
- Prize offered: 2 packages – each for 2 people – consisting of: Entry for the complete 5 days OOCup competition plus OOCup 2020 T-shirt for each competitor. Total value around 325 EUR. Transferable to other persons.
- In 2020 OOcup goes back to France again – repeating the great success from 2018 in new and interesting terrains! There is good reason for that: Tricky terrain like what we found in the South Jura Mountains (AIN) in France is what OOcup always tries to deliver; ultimate orienteering challenge in beautiful natural surroundings. More at oocup.com.
Event sponsor: WOC 2020 spectator races – July 6th – 11th (Denmark)
- Prize offered: A spectator & race package for two persons for entry for the complete WOC 2020 Tour – including 3 forest races and 3 sprint races. Add to that a free WOC running top for each. Value about 260 EUR. Transferable to another person.
Description: Use this unique opportunity to watch the World’s best orienteers in the first ever sprint World Orienteering Championships while enjoying orienteering in great terrains – both forest and urban. For the three sprint races, the WOC2020 arenas will be within walking distance or shared with the spectator race arenas. The forest races will be staged in varied terrain ranging from open heathland, inland dunes and coniferous forest to hilly beech forest. All maps are drawn by the WOC2020 mapper. More information at woc2020.dk/woc-tour/.
Event sponsor: Kapa 3-days 2020 – June 26th-28th (Latvia)
- Prize offered: Two family entry packages including camping & parking. Each family entry package includes an entry for two adults and two children, space for a tent at the event camping and a car parking voucher. Value 250 EUR. Transferable to another person.
Kapa 3-days is the largest orienteering event in Baltics with 2000 participants from around 20 countries. It’s a special o-weekend Friday to Sunday 26th to 28th of June 2020 in Latvia. The terrains of 2020 have not been used for orienteering ever and are mainly pine forests with different runnability and a lot of special relief forms. As always – a great atmosphere and even live music in the evening at the main Baltic orienteering festival!
Event sponsor: Wawel Cup – July 8th – 12th 2020 (Poland)
- Prize offered: Entry + accommodation package for 2 people. The package consists of entry to full Wawel Cup 39th edition (competition + additional indoor race + training maps) + accommodation on camping/hard-floor + Wawel Cup O-shirt. Value about 250 EUR. Transferable to other persons.
- Wawel Cup 2020 is about the return to Jura Krakowsko- -Czestochowska; to the place which is unambiguously associated with Orienteering. We will start the competition with the mass start on Błędów Desert and for the next four days we will face interesting and diverse terrains with lots of rocks. Loads of attractions, additional contests, handicap, emotions, medieval castles, rocks and foremost… good fun – this mixture will let every competitor remember Wawel Cup for long!
Event sponsor: Portugal O-meeting 2020 – February 22th – 25th (Portugal)
- Prize offered: 2 packages – each for 2 persons – consisting of full entry fee for Portugal O-meeting 2020 (2 model events, 4 forest stages, 2 sprint races and Trail-O). Value about 250 EUR. Transferable to other persons.
- Portugal O’ Meeting is already a well-known established international event, perfect for a season start. It’s common to see POM Super Elite winners on the podium of the following international events. The 2020 Edition will be held in Santiago do Cacém and Sines, the southwest coast of Portugal. Terrains are typical Mediterranean forests on all stages. More info at www.pom.pt.