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Course of the Year 2019: WOC Selection Long in Norway


A traditional long distance course with many long route choice legs interspersed with technical orienteering is the “Orienteering Course of the Year 2019″!  The course was run by many of the world’s best orienteers, as the event was a selection race for the World Orienteering Championships for several countries.

The course was set by a course setting team consisting of two persons: Øyvind Helgerud and Tom A Karlsen. Karlsen was also one of the course setters for WOC 2019 Long distance – read more about the connection between the courses in the two events and how the course setters cooperated in a long and detailed interview below.

Highlighted by many top orienteers

Four of the eight athletes interviewed about “Course of the Year 2019″ (see links to the interviews towards the end of this article) highlighted this course (or the women’s course with many similar legs) when talking about their top orienteering courses of the year.  

– It was a true long distance challenge in a tough Norwegian terrain, with several long and medium-length legs (Lucas Basset)

– I think the most enjoyable course I ran in 2019 was the WOC selection Long Distance in Guttersrod, between Halden and Sarpsborg, in the beginning of July. It was a true long distance challenge in a tough Norwegian terrain, with several long and medium-length legs. A kind of long distance during which you slowly feel the tiredness coming, and it’s a struggle to both maintain good pace and keep a clean technique, Lucas Basset described the winning course.

2019 WOC Selection Long H21E World

» See map in omaps.worldofo.com

Lina Strand was just as  impressed by the course: – It challenged the runners in all the ways a long distance should do. Overall World Cup winner Gustav Bergman was also impressed by the course and highlighted the second leg as a leg that really stood out in the 2019-season. Czech Denisa Kosova was also thrilled by the course, telling about a “deep experience” during a long run through the Scandinavian forest on an atypical course.

– The long leg to the 2nd control at the WOC long test race is of course a leg that stands out (Gustav Bergman)

There were two different courses for the men in this race – a “H21E World” course for international runners and a “H21E Norway” course for Norwegian runners and a few other nations – and similarly for the women. The “H21E World”-course was the course which was nominated for “Course of the Year 2019″ – and based on the course setters description of the two courses in the interview below, the balancing of some of the longer legs was indeed better in the nominated “World” course.

2019 WOC Selection Long H21E Norway

» See map in omaps.worldofo.com

Before heading over to the interview with the course setters – a big thanks to all the sponsors of “Course of the Year” – without you this would not have been possible. Dear readers: Please head down to the bottom of the article and consider the fine sponsor prizes. Information about “lucky voter” prizes will be published within a few days.


Sprint and Middle course of the year

Depending on how you define a sprint race, either the Wawel Cup indoor sprint in Poland or the JWOC Sprint in Denmark is the “Sprint Course of the Year 2019″ (overall 4th and 9th place, respectively) and the Finnish Championships middle is the “Middle distance course of the Year 2019″ (overall 11th place).  See full results below the interview with the course setters of the winning course.

Interview with the course setters: Øyvind Helgerud and Tom A Karlsen

Q: Congratulations with your course being awarded “Course of the Year 2019″! You were two course setter for this race – how did you share the work?

Basically Tom planned the courses on the computer and Øyvind did the fieldwork in the terrain. However, based on Øyvind’s knowledge about the terrain, we agreed upon minor changes to the courses and control sites to get the most out of the route choices and to optimize the technical part of the courses.

Basically Tom planned the courses on the computer and Øyvind did the fieldwork in the terrain.

We also had some support from the national controller Håvard Tveite. We (Øyvind and Tom) also worked together planning the Norwegian Long Distance Championship in 2017 in nearly the same area, Øyvind as course setter and Tom as national controller. We think very much in the same way regarding course setting for long distance races.

Q: What are your thoughts about your course getting this type of award?

We are very proud to receive such an award, but are humble in regards to everyone else who has also made good and interesting orienteering courses in 2019. We take it as a confirmation that we possess certain qualities that enable us to plan courses for the elite level.

It is also nice to see that a lot of people seem to like this kind of “old-fashioned”-course with a lot of long legs and forest orienteering.

Q: Did you get any surprises with respect to which route choices were fastest or were the athletes made mistakes?

All relevant route choices were used. We knew that the best physically fit athletes wanted to run around on roads and paths. Our task was to balance the route choices on the legs to create uncertainty for the runners. Especially on the first long leg in the course (leg 1 to 2), there was a surprising amount of hesitation in finding the right route choice.

[Editors comment: See below for route choices for the first long leg, from Route to Christmas Day 3 2019. Looking at the GPS-data just around the control circle, many athletes used 20-30 seconds extra to decide which route to take.]


In our opinion no runner found the optimal route choice on all long legs. That is satisfactory for a course planner. We pretty much got confirmed that the route choices we felt were best, were in line with reality. Actually, there were no surprising route choices taken by the athletes which we not had considered.

Actually, there were no surprising route choices taken by the athletes which we not had considered.

It is always difficult to balance legs in a good way, and sometimes it is more about the runners strengths and weaknesses that decides what is the fastest route choice. As there were two different parallel courses in this event, one “World” and one “Norway” class, we tried to vary the legs a bit. For the first long leg the Norway-classes had a similar leg, but here I think the northern route choice was too obvious, so the leg was not that good.

We knew that the best Norwegians prefer to go straight in this kind of terrain, [and therefore] we tried to make the choices around more attractive in the Norwegian-classes

But some runners ruined their races there by taking the wrong route choice, so it was a decisive leg. We knew that the best Norwegians prefer to go straight in this kind of terrain, and the foreigners maybe would be more open for running on road/path so we tried to make the choices around more attractive in the Norwegian-classes.

Q: Can you take us quickly through the main challenges in the course, highlighting the legs where you see special challenges?

The terrain is quite tough physically and you can save some energy by going around. It is possible on the two first long legs to take energy saving route choices, but on the last long leg you have to run in the terrain. Therefore it is good to have a plan for the whole race already when you decide route choices on the first long legs.

img_1 (1)

Overall, the route choices on the long legs are the most challenging regarding getting a good result in this competition. However, there are some shorter legs with minor route choices that can be decisive. There are also a few short legs with relatively technical orienteering. In addition some controls (2,3,6 and 8) were quite technical.

Q: What is your favourite leg in the course – and why?

We think the second long leg (5 to 6) gives extra challenges regarding route choices. . [Editors comment: See the leg above, and Route to Christmas Day 19 for the course setters comments about this leg].

Q: When did you start planning the courses – and how many hours do you think you spent on it? Can you take us through part of the planning process?

We started the process in late February 2019 with the first sketches of the courses. However, the split of terrain between Long Distance and Middle distance were not exactly clarified at that time. In April we planned new courses to cope with the new split of terrain. Tom sent the proposed courses to Øyvind in the middle of May.

Then Øyvind used some days in the forest checking all control points and main route choices. Øyvind knew the terrain very well from being course setter at the Norwegian Champs 2017 in the same area, so compared to how much time he used in the forest that time, Øyvind usde very few hours this time. Based on the work in the field, Øyvind proposed changes to some legs and control sites. We worked during May and ended up with the final courses in the beginning of June.

Q: Tom, you were also course setter at WOC 2019 Long distance, a course which finished 7th in “Course of the Year 2019″. How would you compare the WOC Long course with the WOC Long selection course – and especially the effort put into the course-setting?

We (me and my wife) put much more effort into the WOC 2019 course setting, because it was a big challenge to satisfy the requirements from TV, controllers and media. You can never plan the best course in a WOC, but you can plan a fair course so that the best athletes win and the TV-audience will have a good time watching the screen in their home.

I also have to say that the two terrains are very different. It is much easier to plan a challenging course in the Long selection terrain than at Mørk (the WOC area). However, in my opinion the courses at WOC 2019 were more fair for the second best runners, and did not suite the Scandinavian runners so much. It was a goal to plan fair courses for everybody, and I think we succeeded in that way. We also avoided nearly all types of runners following each other during the race, which we are very proud of.

In my opinion the WOC course was a better product given the circumstances.

In my opinion the WOC course was a better product given the circumstances.

Q: Tom, I guess the WOC Long course was significantly influence by arena/TV-requirements – have you got the possibility to share one of the first versions of the WOC Long course before the TV/arena-requirements were fully applied?

Yes, I have enclosed an version from spring 2018. However we planned more than 100 courses from 8 different start areas in an earlier stage using the Lidar Data map.

However we planned more than 100 courses from 8 different start areas in an earlier stage


Q: Did you let the WOC Long course influence the course-setting on this course, i.e. did you try to set a course with some similarity to the challenges the runners would meet at WOC Long, or was that not anything you had on your mind?

I had in mind to make my signature on the selection courses so the runner could find the same elements in the WOC courses. However, the differences in characteristics for the two terrains made it a little difficult. You can recognize elements as long legs with possibilities to run on roads / paths, short technical legs, arena passage and fair control sites.

Q: Thanks a lot for the interview,  Tom and Øyvind. And again congratulations to a great course and a fantastic job!

Results: Course of the Year 2019

We have three long distance courses in the top in “Course of the Year″ in the 2019-edition – in contrast to the 2018-edition where two middle distance courses were on top of the list.  The second placed ultimate-course from OOCup 2019 Day 2 in Slovenia is quite special: In the OOCup-event some classes run on a reduced map where all paths and roads are removed, giving new challenges for the runners – the course setting is also adapted so that roads/paths in the terrain do not influence the results significantly. Maybe this high placing for an “ultimate course” can inspire other organizers to include “ultimate” courses in their events? The third placed Oceania Long distance Championships is a fantastic course where on of the legs was used the first day in the “Route to Christmas”-series – nice to see courses from this part of the world get some well deserved attention!

In fourth place we find the first sprint course, the indoor sprint at Wawel Cup this summer. It can, however, be debated if this is a real “sprint course” or if indoor sprint should be a separate category. The first outdoor sprint is down in 8th place, the Junior World Orienteering Championships Sprint in Denmark. The best middle distance course is found down in 11th place – the Finnish championships Middle distance. In the top 6 we again find courses from 6 different countries: Norway, Slovenia, Australia, Poland, Sweden and France – with Denmark and Czech Republic also within the Top 10. This again shows how important it is to travel in order to really enjoy orienteering.

1. 2019 WOC Selection Long H21E World
    12710 points
2. OOCup 2019 Day2 M21 Ultimate
    11710 points
3. Oceania 2019 – Event 7 Oceania Long Distance Championships
    11490 points
4. AGH Indoor Sprint Wawel Cup 2019 ME
    11480 points
5. Obygdshelgen 2019 Day 2
    11150 points
6. French Championships Long 2019
    10680 points
7. WOC 2019 Long Men
    10380 points
8. Norwegian Champs Ultralong M21
    8400 points
9. JWOC Sprint Men 2019
    8090 points
10. Czech Champs Long 2019 H21
    7480 points
11. Finnish Champs Middle 2019 H21
    7410 points
12. Wawel Cup 2019 E5
    7200 points
13. World Cup Final China 2019 Sprint
    7100 points
14. Finnish Championships Long 2019 M21
    7000 points
15. Aguiar da Beira O Meeting 2019 Middle ME
    6980 points
16. Dolomiti 3 days Day 2
    6930 points
17. Trofeo Pinares 2019 Day 4 ME
    6830 points
18. Swiss Selection Race Long May 2019 M21
    6810 points
19. WMOC 2019 Middle M35
    6550 points
20. Mocpa Memorial Orienteering Competition Pece Atanasoski 2019
    5800 points
21. Sigulda Bobsleigh track indoor orienteering 2019
    4950 points
22. O-ringen 2019 Stage 5 D21E
    4630 points
23. Polish Night Orienteering Championships
    4610 points
24. Norwegian Champs Long M21
    4470 points
25. Portuguese Champs Middle 2019 H21
    4410 points

* Note that some votes have been removed due to some individuals voting multiple times.

See also interviews and other articles in this series:

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/ & https://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.chNeuchâtel, 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.



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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