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Course of the Year 2015: WOC Long distance!

A fantastic long distance course in Scottish wilderness takes the honors as “Orienteering Course of the Year 2015″. The men’s course in the World Orienteering Championships Long distance wins with nearly three times as many votes as the World Cup long distance in Tasmania in second place – a massive victory! 

Congratulations go to the course setter team Steve Nicholson and Brian Bullen and to everybody else involved in designing the courses. This should also be a big encouragement to the Scottish World Championships organizers who dared to put the orienteering challenges first and organize one of the most important races in the year so far into the wilderness that the arena was not even properly reachable by mobile phone.

The Danish Championships sprint is the “Sprint Course of the Year 2015″ and the JWOC Middle distance is the “Middle distance course of the Year 2015″. See full results below the interview with the course setters.

World Champs 2015 Long Men

» See map in omaps.worldofo.com
– Adapt to new challenges throughout the course

The win for WOC Long as “Orienteering Course of the Year 2015″ was no big surprise for the ones following orienteering on elite level: Of 7 elite athletes interviewed about their favourite orienteering course of 2015 as part of the “Course of the Year” article series at WorldofO.com, four(!) named the World Champs Long in Scotland as their favourite.  

… wilder than almost every other forest I’ve been running in

In the interview, French Lucas Basset was very impressed by both course and terrain: “The terrain was wilder than almost every other forest I’ve been running in. The feeling I experienced when I ran out of the start corridor, passed the start triangle in the open area, turned my head left, then right, and had a brief look at the surroundings was unbelievable.” 


… very good long legs where the route choice did matter a lot

For the women’s course, which was similar to the men’s course in many respects, Danish World Champion Ida Bobach said “The course had some very good long legs where the route choice did matter a lot. And you had to do micro-route choices all the time so you really had to stay very focused on the long legs.  The course changed a lot and you had to adapt to new challenges throughout the course”. 


Cat Taylor on home ground had similar praise for the women’s course: “It seems at the moment that for major international races there are many constraints in order to make the races more fun to watch, like many TV controls, arena starts or passages, but here it was great that the course was minimally affected by these – the last km or so was an easy approach to the finish but before that it was a complete race in wild and varied terrain, with the long legs being the most important. No path running and I hardly saw anyone in the forest!

… a complete race in wild and varied terrain, with the long legs being the most important. No path running and I hardly saw anyone in the forest!

Thanks to the sponsors

Without the sponsors offering prizes worth more than 2.500 Euro, “Course of the Year 2015″ would not be possible at this level, so please take a second look at the sponsor presentations at the bottom of this article and consider visiting these races and training camps next year! The sponsor prize winners will be published in a separate article later this week.

Interview with course setters Steve Nicholson and Brian Bullen

Below follows an interview with the course setters Steve Nicholson and Brian Bullen. See also these articles about the race earlier published at WorldofO.com:

Q: This year’s WOC Long distance has been described as the last time a World Championship in Orienteering will be held that far from civilization. Did that influence your work in a positive or negative way?

It was privilege spending time so far from civilization but as we got closer to the competition the lack of mobile phone signal and access did make things harder.  A positive about the remoteness was that we decided to book a full week on the area in the same August week exactly one year before.  This meant the core team, including our WOC controller Colin Eades, worked closely together to test legs with the same vegetation and check radio and mobile reception.

It was privilege spending time so far from civilization but as we got closer to the competition the lack of mobile phone signal and access did make things harder.

Q: What was your overall plan behind how you wanted to challenge the athletes on this course?

The aim was to work in as many signature legs as possible – that is long legs requiring navigation and route choice.  We had specific requirements from the TV director and so we worked hard to ensure that we met these whilst not compromising the signature legs.  We were quick to compromise for the better with some really good suggestions and challenges from our very capable Senior Event Advisors and controller.


Illustration: The longest leg from 12-13 was the key leg in the race.

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

One surprise was that the majority of top runners took the track when leaving control 8.  We had expected the direct route would tempt more runners (well chosen by British runner Graham Gristwood).


Illustration: The 9th control – most top runners took the road which was the fastest option.

There were not really any common sites where mistakes were being made, perhaps with the exception of control 27 which was high speed descent and runners appeared to lose concentration.  When under high pressure even simple legs can become challenging.

When under high pressure even simple legs can become challenging.

There were many possibilities between 12 and 13 but we did not expect that many!


Illustration: Many different options were chosen on the long leg from 12 to 13.

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

Leg 12 to 13 because of the length of time some competitors stood still on camera at number 12.

Q: Did you have any special worries about the courses in the morning of “the big day”?

Our biggest concern was transport from the quarantine to the start.  Earlier in the year, the bridge across Dog Falls had been swept away and some tracks had been damaged.  The Forestry Commission rebuilt the bridge but it was narrower.

We were extremely impressed by the winner’s performances

We had 10 test runners in the early morning to ensure the electronics all worked.  One radio control failed and was changed immediately before any WOC runners started. We were extremely impressed by the winner’s performances.  The winning times and course length were set for exceptional performances and the athletes did not disappoint.

Q: Did requirements from TV or media give you any special restrictions which made it more tricky to make a good course? 

We had been well briefed on the TV requirements.  We knew this would come and so proactively offered solutions to pre-empt problems.  It was other factors that led to a series of late changes.  A huge storm early in the year created a lot of wind blow and this meant some control sites had to be in the phi loop.  Then directly before the event, the farmer had some new requirements that meant the last controls had to be re-planned in June.

… the farmer had some new requirements that meant the last controls had to be re-planned in June

As it turned out, due to vehicle and access difficulties on the day before WOC, the TV controls at 22-23-24 were not used after all.  However, we’d not change anything now.


Illustration: Planned TV-controls at control 21-24.

Q: How did you share the work in the course setter team?

It was an equal partnership with plenty of respect – we’d both participated in WOC (Brian in East Germany ’70 and Finland ‘78, Steve in USA ’93 and Norway ’97) and planned championship events.  Brian was stronger on the technology and Steve on the ground.

The Senior Event Advisor visit in May 2014 was pivotal because of a number of great suggestions that really influenced the course positively

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?

Our first visits were in autumn 2012 before the O-mapping (our Scottish Professional Officer Colin Matheson had prepared a map based on government and forestry maps).  In 2013 we planned around a dozen courses with different starts and finishes before committing to a start along the loch track.  The finish was already selected.  The Senior Event Advisor visit in May 2014 was pivotal because of a number of great suggestions that really influenced the course positively.  It was important to us that we met all of their requirements so all stakeholders were satisfied.  We had a week in August 2014 with test runners.  In anticipation of storm damage in winter 2014/2015 we established regular visits in the terrain, and mappers revisited and updated the map in spring 2015.  The planning process involved trying many alternatives on paper, but more critically in the terrain.  As the police say, we eliminated many suspects…

In anticipation of storm damage in winter 2014/2015 we established regular visits in the terrain

Impossible to put a figure on hours – partly as this was a labour of love…and as former WOC competitors we wanted both a testing but absolutely fair course.

Q: Thanks a lot for your answers – and congratulations with great work!

Results: Course of the Year 2015

For the first time in the history of “Course of the Year”, all three courses on the podium are long distance courses – and all three are even World Cup courses, with the World Cup in Tasmania in second and the World Cup in Arosa, Switzerland in third. This shows that IOF’s change of focus from sprint to long distance in the 2015 World Cup was very successful as seen from a course point of view. Even the fourth place is a long distance race – the JWOC Long distance in Norway.

On the other hand the best sprint course is all the way down in 14th place with the Danish Championships sprint; the “Sprint Course of the Year 2015″. The “Middle Course of the Year 2015″ is JWOC Middle distance all the way down in 16th place overall. The MTBO community did only have two courses to choose from, giving a 5th place for the World MTBO Championships Long.

Results Top 20

1. World Champs 2015 Long Men
    31510 points
2. World Cup Long Tasmania Men 2015
    12190 points
3. WC-Final 2015, Arosa – Long Distance Men
    10260 points
4. JWOC 2015 Long – M20
    9570 points
5. MTBO: World MTBO Champs Long 2015 – M21
    8430 points
6. WOC Relay 2015 Men – leg 3
    7830 points
7. Norwegian WOC Selection Long 2015: H21E
    6900 points
8. Nordland 3-dagers langdistanse
    6790 points
9. Austrian Championships Relay 2015
    6710 points
10. MTBO: Pilsen Long Stage 4
    6690 points
11. French National Race South-East 2015 – Day 3 Foret
    6000 points
12. Austrian Championships Long 2015 – H21E (part 1)
    5490 points
13. Vyborgskaya Troika 2015
    5430 points
14. Danish Champs Sprint 2015 M21
    5330 points
15. Wroclaw Night O-Fight 2015
    4970 points
16. JWOC Middle 2015 Men
    4950 points
17. OOCUP 2015 Day2 H21 Ultimate
    4800 points
18. French National Race South-East 2015 – Day 1 Middle
    4620 points
19. Stockholm Indoor Cup etapp 2
    4550 points
20. World Cup Halden Long 2015 – M21
    4330 points

See also:

 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 2015″, 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: Antalya Orienteering Festival 2016 – 29th October – 5th November
  • Prize offered: One big Antalya O-Meeting package consisting of 2 complete Antalya Orienteering Festival packages: Accommodation + Entry for all 5 races + All Transfers + The program consisting of presentations held by Håkan Carlsson. Value about 495 Euro. Transferable to other persons.
  • Antalya Orienteering Festival will be held for the 2nd time in Side by the Mediterranean coast of Antalya, Turkey. We provide 5 different terrains and challenging courses, good maps and good weather for orienteering holiday. Swedish National Team Head Coach Håkan Carlsson will join us for analysis and lectures about Sports psychology & Mental training. See more at www.antalyaofest.com


Event sponsor: Fjord-O 2016 – 13th – 17th July
  • Prize offered: 3 packages – each for 2 persons – for the full Fjord-O 2016 consisting of entry for 4 races in beautiful terrain with fjord view.  Value about 450 Euro. Transferable to other persons.
  • The race courses are set among the most spectacular sceneries in «Fjord Norway», with the slogan «with a view to the fjord». Fjord-O Vest is 4 days of competitions allowing time for you to explore the beautiful nature in this area during your holiday. Stryn and Ålesund have many exciting attractions such as the Jugend town of Ålesund, the Geiranger Fjord, a hike up the longest uphill track in Norway to the Skåla summit at 1849 above the sea level or a visit to the famous Briksdal Glacier. See more at fjord-o.no.


Event sponsor: Portugal “O” Meeting 2016 – February 5th-9th 2016
  • Prize offered: 4 packages – each for 2 persons – transferable to other person. Consisting of entry to complete 4 day Portugal “O” Meeting 2016 – 4 official races + 1 Urban Night (Middle, Urban Nigth, Middle, Long-WRE, Long). Value about 390 EUR.
  • POM is the world’s biggest winter time orienteering event, and 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 2000+ runners – last year POM had 2300 runners! Besides new maps, 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 8th Feb.More at  http://www.pom.pt.


Event sponsor: Slovak Karst Cup 2016. 21st-24th July 2016
  • Prize offered: 3 packages for 2 people – each consisting of: entry for 4 competitions (2xmiddle, 2x shortened long), accommodation for 4 nights in camping, 3 training maps, Event T-shirts and headtube.
    Value about  360  Euro, transferable to other person(s).
  • Slovak Karst Cup is the favorite multiday o-event in Slovakia. It is usually organized in karst terrains of Silická planina (plateau) or Plesivecka planina (plateau), which are located in National park Slovenský kras. You can find many depressions, mixed forest, semiopen or open areas there. And also lots of natural and historical attractions in surroundings after competition. For Karst Cup 2016 we have chosen one of the most attractive terrains, which where used partly for JWOC 2012 (open or semiopen areas of Silická planina) and fully for WUOC 2006 (forest area of Plešivecká planina). The competition can be a very good opportunity for training for WUOC 2016 participiants. More at http://www.tuke.sk/obeh/karst


Event sponsor: SIVEN MOC 2016 – March 4th – March 10th 2016
  • Prize offered: Full package for 1 person consisting in package for SIVEN MOC camp + entry fee for SIVEN MOC Championship in Bulgaria – March 2016. The package includes 7 trainings as shown on the program, 3 competitions of MOC Championship, 8 nights accommodation. Value about 349 Euro. Transferable to other person. 
  • XIV edition of MOC, with main sponsor SIVEN, for the first time in Bulgaria. Event centre in Bansko. Find your Bulgaria! MOC stands for Mediteranian Orienteering Championship – MOC is an annual event organized at the beginning of spring season, in southern countries with softer climate. More info at www.sivenmoc.com and www.orienteering.it


Event sponsor: Orievents / NAOM 2016. 13th – 14th February 2016
  • Prize offered: Competition + training package for 2 persons, consisting of: Entry for NAOM 2016 (13February  2016 –  Middle distance + Night Sprint ; 14 February – Middle Distance WRE) +  training camp (6 trainings) + 3 days of accommodation in half board. Value about 320 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 and about the training camp at Orievents.


Event sponsor: Lipica Open 2016. 12th – 16th March
  • Prize offered: 2 packages – each for 2 people – consisting of: Entry to complete Lipica Open competition + hard floor accommodation in Postojna. Value about 320 euro. Transferable to other persons.
  • In 2016 Lipica open will again be organized as a 5 day event. Again some great terrains! Training conditions in this part of Europe are now better than ever – both on forest maps and on sprint maps of nice little towns on the Adriatic coast! More at www.lipicaopen.com


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. Just goes to show… as in real estate- location, location, location.