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Course of the Year 2021: WOC Long


For the second time in the history of the “Orienteering Course of the Year”, the World Orienteering Championships (WOC) long distance takes the honors! Just as back in Scotland in 2015, this years’ WOC long distance in Czech Republic was set in special and exciting terrain, and highly anticipated by the competitors ahead of the competition.

The course setter Petr Karvanek used the Czech sandstone terrain to challenge the competitors with demanding routechoices and tricky navigation – a truly deserved victory!

– The course had it all

– The course had it all – challenging route choices where no-one was sure about his choice. Even we “locals” didn’t always find the  right ones. This is how Milos Nykodym described his favourite long distance course of the year, the WOC long distance in an interview given in relation to the “Course of the Year 2021″.

The WOC 2021 Long course was also suggested by several of WorldofO’s readers, for example Revenger Dalberg who wrote the following description of the course:

Long demanding legs with several equal options combined with shorter legs where there was difficult orienteering and many micro choices. And for this, the coursesetter had really managed to use the competition area to a maximum, with a nice arena-passage in the end for the spectators.

Before heading over to the interview with the course setter – 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

The “Middle Course of the Year 2021″ was also a high level course – the Middle distance race at the World Cup Final in Italy in highly technical terrain (overall 3rd).  “Sprint Course of the Year 2021″ (overall 4th) was another course from the World Orienteering Championships in Czech Republic – the WOC Sprint! See full results below the interview with the course setters of the winning course.

World Cup Final Middle 2021

» See map in omaps.worldofo.com
WOC 2021 Sprint Final Men

» See map in omaps.worldofo.com

Interview with the course setter: Petr Karvanek

Q: Congratulations with setting the orienteering course of the year! Was this a one-man-job, or did you work as a team with other course setters?
I have to say that winning this prestigious poll made me very happy. Naturally, during the planning of the course, a multi-person team was involved. I had several opponents who helped me, especially in grasping the nature of the terrain. We consulted also the basic conceptual ideas. We did a lot of long legs, and later we fine-tuned the specific locations of the controls directly in the forest.

There were discussions about small details, where the control was moved by just ten metres. Even such a detail can play a role in deciding on a route choice.

So I would like to thank Dan Wolf, Jan Fiala, Roman Zbranek and Radek Novotny, who helped me lot with setting the course.

2021-12-31 00_15_57-Greenshot

Q: What was your overall plan behind how you wanted to challenge the athletes on this course?
One of the most beautiful terrains that can be found in the Czech Republic was chosen for the long distance race. Coincidentally, it is located about 15 kilometers from the place where I live.

Although the last race was organized here forty years ago, I know this terrain from many walks, trips and runs.

Thanks to this, I was familiar with many of the places where controls have been placed.

The plan was simple, prepare courses where the best, most prepared racers would win. The execution, however, proved to be much more difficult.

Q: Did you get any surprises with respect to which routechoices were fastest or were the athletes made mistakes? For example the first long leg?
You know, it is necessary to realize where orienteering has moved nowadays. Thanks to modern technologies and the perfect training of top runners, the number of real opportunities to surprise them has decreased rapidly. Orienteering in its original way, when competitors had to tackle unfamiliar terrain, is long gone.

Consider for example the first long leg, that had two basic variants, north and south.

Editors comment: See below for the leg in question.


Then, of course, there were lots of different sub-variants. The southern choice seemed to be better while testing, and the fact that it was a bit faster was also shown in the race itself (assuming the fastest runners would realize it). Crucial in deciding on this option was the reluctance of most competitors to invest their efforts in a riskier solution. In short, they chose a more comfortable track where they saved their strength for the rest of the race. Certainly this leg could have been better balanced, I mean in favour of the southern (riskier) option. However, the overwhelming impression among most of my opponents in this particular case was that more racers would choose the southern option.

Editors comment: See below for the leg in question including route choice alternatives. WorldofO’s analysis of the leg: Theoretically, assuming runnability is the same, it is slightly better to climb 40 meters more (left, red below) than running 400 meter extra (right, blue below) when considering this leg isolated (a factor of about 8 seems to be good in this kind of terrain, i.e. 40 meter climb represents around 320 meter extra running). On the other hand this was a long race with lots of climb, so it was good to conserve energy and reduce climbing early on in the course. Thus from a theoretical point of view these two variants should be quite equal.  


Q: Did you have any special worries about the courses in the morning of “the big day”?
It was probably only when I entered the arena and I realized that “my” course would soon be raced by the world’s best runners. This of course brought a kind of nervousness to my feelings. A lot of familiar people stopped me and almost everyone wanted to talk or exchange at least a few words. Then I moved aside and watched the race near Daniel Hubmann’s fans. There I also saw their big disappointment when Daniel missed the medal by a few seconds.

Q: Did requirements from TV or media give you any special restrictions which made it more tricky to make a good course? Can you maybe share some early variants of the course if they are available?
From the very first drafts of the courses, we planned three more TV sections in addition to the TV at the start location and TV in the arena. The one furthest from the arena (between controls 10 and 11) was covered by a drone, while cables were pulled to the other two.

Karel Jonák, the producer of the TV coverage, took part in several meetings directly on the TV spots in the forest, and it has to be said that he kindly accepted all our proposals without any comments.

Far greater restrictions were due to nature protection. The management of the protected area designated areas in which we were not allowed to run at all and another relatively large area in which we could not place controls. For clarity, the very first draft of the route was implemented on a tourist map around mid-2019:

Attachment 1_2000

At this moment the mapping was already in progress and the first more specific proposals could be made. For example this one 2 is from November 2019:

Attachment 2_4500


with the longest leg here:


Q: What is your favourite leg in the course – and why?
Most favourite may not be the right word. But I’ll mention the part from the third to the eighth control. I think it was the most successful part of the course.



There were a lot of very different choices on each leg there. And if the first long leg was far from important for the outcome of the race, I dare say that here (and later also on the next long leg between controls 15 and 16) was shown the big importance of mental and physical readiness of the individual competitors.

Q: When did you start planning the courses for WOC Long – and how many hours do you think you spent on it? Can you take us through part of the planning process?
I think sometime in the beginning of 2019, Jan Picek offered me the opportunity to prepare the long distance course. I thank tJan very much for this opportunity.
The first drafts, as I mentioned, were made sometime in mid-2019. In total, I have about 40 drafts in my archive which led to the result of final version dated  13.6.2021.

I haven’t counted the number of hours, but I believe it was hundreds of hours spent at the computer and in the fforest. On the other hand, this July I was preparing one stage of the five-day Bohemia Orienteering race and it took me only two days to prepare a total of 64 courses and according to the competitors’ reactions, they also liked the courses.

But back to the World Championships: The final location of the start took about a year to be finalized. The location of the arena was also changed, especially to put the relay race in the most interesting part of the terrain.

Almost until the last moment we were solving the location of the first control. The originally agreed location proved to be too unclear when approaching from one side, and in the end a place a few tens of meters away was chosen.

At this point I would like to mention the mapping skills of Zdenek Sokolár. Zdenek is a “sandstone genius” in my eyes. When I go into the forest with his map (in my case, properly enlarged for my eyesight), my feeling of harmony with his interpretation of the terrain is perfect.

Q: Can you tell more about your experience as a course setter?
I got my first opportunity to build courses at the national level in 2006, when our club organized the long distance Czech championship on the map “Supí hora” (Vulture mountain). It was a bit of a coincidence, because the selected course setter was struggling with lack of time and actually only managed to finish the main men’s category. After all these years, I can perhaps reveal that I finished the rest of the courses for him.

And since our club OK Jiskra Nový Bor regularly organizes big races every year – the national championship, the Czech Cup or the 5-days Bohemia Orienteering races, I am part of the course setters team every year. In retrospect, I value the course from the Czech Republic Championship on the long distance in 2014 the most. I consider it as my most successful course. The terrain didn’t offer much, which made it all the more challenging to prepare a course of the highest level here.

In 2023, hopefully there will be several World Cup races in the Czech Republic. And so the course I have already prepared for the Euromeeting 2020, which was cancelled due to the pandemic, should be used. I am looking forward to these races very much, as the sprint events will probably take place in the town where I live. And maybe I’ll be waving to the competitors from behind my bookstore window.

Q: Thank you very much for your time – and congratulations again for winning the “Orienteering Course of the Year 2021″ contest!

Results: Course of the Year 2021

We have two long distance courses in the top in “Course of the Year″ in the 2021-edition, with both a middle distance course anda  sprint course within Top 4. The second best course overall was the Spanish championships long distance, also in very interesting and stony terrain.

This has been a special year with fewer competitions than in a normal year due to COVID-19, and that is maybe part of the reason why we have as much as three courses from WOC 2021 within the top 5 – nearly a clean sweep for WOC 2021! We have 5 countries in the Top-10 – Czech Republic, Spain, Italy, Sweden and Finland.

1. WOC 2021 Long Men
    15210 points
2. Spanish Champs Long 2021
    14730 points
3. World Cup Final Middle 2021
    12280 points
4. WOC 2021 Sprint Final Men
    12060 points
5. WOC 2021 Middle Final Men
    11690 points
6. 5 Days of Spain – E2 Trofeo Quijotes 2021 – Muela de Marojales
    10140 points
7. World Cup Idre 2021 Long Men
    7770 points
8. Jukola 2021 Leg 3
    7480 points
9. LabyrinthO Zbihory I
    6750 points
10. Campionato Italiano CO Middle – WRE – ME
    5820 points
11. World Cup Middle Idrafjäll 2021
    5790 points
12. Wawel Cup Hit the Pit – Mens Final
    4960 points
13. Obygdshelgen 2021 Middle W21E
    4650 points
14. Australian 3 Days – Day 2 2021 – M21E
    4490 points
15. Sudety open E3
    4080 points
16. Legoland Sprint Denmark
    4000 points
17. Gdansk City Race 2021
    3930 points
18. Polish Champs Middle 2021
    3780 points
19. Norwegian Champs Middle 2021 – H21
    3570 points
20. WOC 2021 International Test race Long Men
    3540 points
21. Luxembourg City Race
    3310 points
22. World Cup Final Long Italy 2021
    3290 points
23. Danish Champs Sprint 2021
    3040 points
24. EOC 2021 Knock-Out Sprint Final
    2810 points
25. Polish Champs Long 2021
    2660 points

See also all the nominated maps here (or as a slideshow).


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 2021″, and prizes drawn among the ones suggesting and voting. All prizes are transferable to other persons (you don’t have to travel yourself). Note that in those cases where prizes are race entries, the race organizers may decide to withdraw prizes or transfer prizes to another competition/year if races are canceled due to COVID-19.

Event sponsor: 5 Days PWT Italia – Domina Coral Bay  – Sharm El Sheikh – Week 44, 2022

  • Prize offered: Competition and hotel package for two persons: Entry for two  person at the 5 Days PWT Italia Domina Coral Bay in Sharm El Sheikh, including accommodation. Value about 1.140 EUR. Transferrable to other persons.
  • You are welcome to Domina Coral Bay in Sharm El Sheikh! A great week of orienteering in the hearth of the Sinai desert; enjoy free diving in the coral reef, orienteering stages in the desert, tricky sprint courses in Domina’s bazar, and the warm Egyptian hospitality. Follow the Sun! Read more on www.orienteering.it and www.facebook.com/PWTOrienteering


Event sponsor: 54th Kainuu Orienteering Week (KOW), July 3rd-8th 2022 (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 2022. Total value up to 800 EUR. Transferable to other persons.
  • More information: Kainuu Orienteering Week is the Finlands’s biggest orienteering week and the world’s second oldest orienteering week, as it has been held annually since the year 1966. Kainuu O-Week is held in the Kainuu region of Finland and traditionally the event is held in the beginning of July the week 27. In 2022 the event will be held in Puolanka and Luhtakangas competition area. We offer perfect pine forest terrain of Luhtakangas and challenging Äikänvaara hill area with magnificent sceneries! NEW IN 2022! The 1st official Kainuu MTB-O Week 3.-8.7.2022 in Puolanka. Come and enjoy the best MTB-O terrains and great landscapes of Kainuu. The following entry steps are: 28th Feb 2022 / 31st May 2022 / 13th June 2022. For more information see www.rastiviikko.fi.


Event sponsor: JWOC TOUR 2022 (spectators’ race). July 10th– 16th (Portugal)

  • Prize offered: JWOC TOUR (spectators’ races): 3 Competition packages for 2 persons each including: full entries to the event (2 Sprint, 1 Long distance and 3 Middle distance), official JWOC t-shirt (offered by SIGN SPORT), 2 training maps and free access to the camping site. Value about 840 EUR. Transferable to other persons.
  • Description: Travel to Aguiar da Beira for cheering the World’s best Juniors and join our spectators’ race (JWOC TOUR). From the 6 stages, 5 will take place on the very same competitions maps used by JWOC runners. Amazing terrain, tasty gastronomy and wonderful landscapes are waiting for you. Come and build with us a stunning and breathtaking atmosphere during Junior World Orienteering Championships week. We need your help to record this competition in athletes’ memories forever! More info about JWOC TOUR 2022 at: https://tour.jwoc2022.pt/. If you want to have a training camp in Aguiar da Beira, check out our official training partner at: https://www.o-portugal.pt/jwoc2022


Event sponsor: Aguiar da Beira “O” Meeting 2022 (JWOC test races) – May 28th– 29th  (Portugal)

  • Prize offered: Aguiar da Beira “O” Meeting 2022 (JWOC test races) Competition Package for 2 persons including: full entries to the event (Model Event, Long distance and Middle distance WRE), 6 night accommodation with breakfast and access to the JWOC 2022 Official Training Camp 2 (consisting on 9 training maps, including two sessions with SPORTident). Value about 600 EUR. Transferable to other persons.
  • Description: After the huge success of Orienteering in the County of Aguiar da Beira since 2014, we took a step forward and will organize Junior World Orienteering Championships 2022. ABOM 2022 is the place to be if you were born in 2002 or later, as this will work as JWOC test races. Very relevant terrain and map making is waiting for you! More info about ABOM 2022 at: http://abom2022.ori-estarreja.pt. If you want to have a training camp in Aguiar da Beira, check out our official training partner O-Portugal.pt at: https://www.o-portugal.pt/jwoc2022/


Event sponsor: WOC 2022 spectator races – June 25th – 30th (Denmark)

  • Prize offered: 2 packages, each consisting of Entry fee for 2 people for all six WOC Tour races. Total value 450+ EUR. Transferable to other persons.
  • We welcome you to the first ever Sprint WOC, which will take place in the Triangle Area of Denmark. As a spectator, we invite you to cheer at the WOC arenas and compete in the WOC Tour public race yourself. The Tour consists of six high quality races: three sprint races on the same maps used for the WOC competitions and three forest races in challenging terrains and on maps drawn by the WOC mapper.
  • Be a tourist too. Take the children to Legoland or visit Southern Jutland’s fantastic UNESCO sites or beautiful beaches. Or you may stay a bit longer and watch the Tour de France depart from Vejle on July 3rd.
  • For more information, please visit www.woc2022.dk


Event sponsor: OOCup – July 17th – 21st 2022

  • Prize offered: 2 packages – each for 2 people – consisting of: Entry for the complete 5 days OOCup competition. Total value up to 400 EUR. Transferable to other persons.
  • In 2022 OOcup goes Nordic. So far OOcup has been all about karst, but in 2022 it’s time for full Nordic experience. The five stages of OOcup/2022 will take place in the finest terrain that can be found around Umeå in Västerbotten county, Sweden. We feel privileged and thrilled to have a chance to organize OOcup in these areas and to bring YOU here! It is going to be GREAT! More at oocup.com


Event sponsor: Croatia Open 2022 – July 31st – August 5th 2022 (Croatia)

  • Prize offered: 2 packages, each consisting of Entry fee for 2 people + gift from the organizers . Total value about 400 EUR. Transferable to other persons.
  • The orienteering competition Croatia Open began in Jastrebarsko in 1997 and since 2000, the members of the orienteering club “Ris” from Delnice are in charge of the competition. Over the years, we have tried to show you all the beauties of the green karst that abounds the forests of Gorski Kotar and also challenging locations in the coastal region and on the Island of Krk that give this competition a taste of the Mediterranean. Through the combination of mountains and sea, we have become one of the most desirable orienteering destinations. We offer the opportunity for an active vacation to all orienteers looking for an exciting summer competition and – it’s tailored to all generations. In the end, we have no choice but to invite you to our anniversary, the 25th Croatia Open, which takes place from 31st of July to 5th of August 2022. Let it be the most beautiful part of your summer vacation in Croatia, yet again. Read more here.


Event sponsor: Sun-O, your training camps in Spain, February 11th-13th 2022++

  • Prize offered: Accommodation for 2 people at the apartments Playa Barbate (2 nights) and free registration for 2 people at Sun-O Barbate Cup (11th-13th February 2022 in “La Breña” Barbate). Also included two full training packages of the Barbate Sun-O Camp, which consists of 25 challenging trainings to be used whenever you wish. Total value 400 euros
  •   Enjoy the nice and sunny weather of Andalusia, in the South of Spain, and have a lot of fun in our wonderful terrains and picturesque urban sprints.


Software sponsor: OCAD Orienteering 3-year license

  • Prize offered: One 3-year licence for the software “OCAD Orienteering”.  Value about 370 EUR. Transferable to other person (before activation).
  • More information: OCAD 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 https://www.ocad.com.


Event sponsor: NAOM 2022. February 18th – 20th 2022

  • Prize offered:  1 package for 2 people – consisting of 2 nights in hotel with breakfast, entry for NAOM 2022 and two trainings. Value about 280 euro. Transferable to other persons.
  • Orievents / GD4C’s Training Camps “Alto Alentejo” are an excellent training opportunity for Orienteering of good quality during the winter. Start the new season in training camps in Alto Alentejo, Portugal! More at www.naom.pt


Event sponsor: Lipica Open 2022. March 12th – 16th 2022

  • Prize offered: 2 packages – each for 2 people – consisting of entry to complete 5 Day Lipica Open competition. Value about 260 euro. Transferable to other persons.
  • Lipica Open is a popular season starter in the Kras region of Slovenia. Enjoy Slovenian karst terrain already in March. Please note that there are good training camp possibilities in SW part of Slovenia and feel free to contact us regarding that at any time. More at www.lipicaopen.com


Event sponsor: Kapa 2022 – Jule 1st to 3rd (Latvia)

  • Prize offered: Two family entry packages to Kapa 3days, where each package includes entry for two adults and one child, space for a tent at the event camping and a car parking voucher. Total value around 250 EUR. Transferable to other person.
  • More information: Kapa 3-days is the largest orienteering event in Baltics with 2000 participants from around 20 countries. It is a nice, long o-weekend for families – from Friday to Sunday. The best new maps and terrains are available, kindergarten at the event centre, fantastic prizes and great atmosphere, including live music Saturday evening. Just come with your family and enjoy the beautiful forests and beaches of Latvia! This year’s event page: 2022.kapa.lv. Facebook page: facebook.com/Kapa3days


Event sponsor: Wawel Spring Cup 2022 + CEYOC – April 1st – 3rd 2022 (Poland)

  • Prize offered: Entry + hard-floor accommodation + training + t-shirt package for 3 people. Value about 240 EUR. Transferable to other persons.
  • 3 days of unforgettable orienteering on Jura (Olkusz, Ogrodzieniec). We will organize sprint distance and two middle races for the beginning of orienteering season in Poland. Wawel Spring Cup means public races for CEYOC, so you will have a chance to support the best Youths in Central Europe. Training possibilities also will be provided. Website – http://wawelcup.pl/


Event sponsor: Wawel Cup 2022 – July 6th – 10th 2022 (Poland)

  • Prize offered: Entry + hard-floor accommodation + training + t-shirt package for 2 people. Value about 200 EUR. Transferable to other persons.
  • 5 days of unforgettable orienteering on Jura in Poland. Zloty Potok, Olsztyn Castle and Czestochowa will deliver you a lot of emotions and demanding orienteering possibilities. Training will be provided. Together we will create a real celebration of Polish Orienteering! Website – http://wawelcup.pl/


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. Congratulations to the winner and thanks for the interview, but it is a pity that there were no questions about the outcome of the race, where the three medal winners finished together, and whether the course setter thinks in retrospect that anything could be done from the course setting perspective to prevent that outcome.