Ida Bobach and Thierry Gueorgiou are the Long champions!
Long Distance Report
Gold again for Denmark | Three in a row for Gueorgiou
Ida Bobach ran superbly to take gold in the Long race in Glen Affric today, with a winning margin of well over two minutes – Denmark's fourth gold medal of the week. Mari Fasting of Norway took silver, her first individual World Championship medal, while last year's champion Svetlana Mironova of Russia took bronze.
In the men's race France's Thierry Gueorgiou put in a strong performance to take his third consecutive Long title. Daniel Hubmann of Switzerland took silver and Olav Lundanes of Norway bronze, with each of the three medallists winning the same medal they won last year.
Set against the backdrop of some spectacular Highland scenery, the courses took the athletes through some difficult terrain, with tough marshes and deep heather. Many athletes remaked afterwards on how exhausting they had found the race, and several made comparisons with the terrain in Norway.
Bobach takes gold with a steady run
Ida Bobach, who won three Long titles at the Junior World Championships between 2009 and 2011, took her first individual senior gold through the simple combination of running quickly, picking good routes and avoiding any major errors.
Bobach wasn't the fastest runner on the course – she had the quickest split times on only two of the twenty legs, while Tove Alexandersson was quickest on eight of the twenty – but Bobach's steady performance while others were going wrong was enough to bring her gold by a big margin.
Bobach's only major time loss came at the second control, where her line was about forty seconds slower that that taken by Alexandersson. Bobach did lose small amounts of time on other controls, sometimes through tiny wobbles and sometimes because her running speed was not as great as that of Alexandersson, but nothing that made any real difference to the result.
Alexandersson has missed most of this World Championships with a foot injury, but on her return to action she looked like the athlete most likely to challenge Bobach for gold. She was in front of the Dane at control 8, but she missed out on a medal by just seven seconds after two big mistakes cost her significant amounts of time.
Alexandersson's first mistake came on the second long leg, between controls 8 and 9. She appears to have lost around 1m40s here, but unfortunately her tracking for the key section of this leg is missing. The tracking we do have shows here ahead of Bobach and running on almost the same line, so it isn't clear where exactly she went wrong.
Alexandersson's second mistake came shortly afterwards, on the next long leg back north to control 12. Alexandersson drifted far too far west here: it isn't clear whether she was perhaps trying to conserve height or avoid some of the thicker vegetation, but the end result was a further time loss of 3m14s to Bobach. Given that Bobach was just 3m11s faster than Alexandersson at the finish, this really could be the error that cost the Swede the chance of her first gold medal.
Bobach in fact chose a really good route from control 8 to control 9: by staying high and taking advantage of the forest ride and patch of rough open towards the end of the leg, she took a lot of time not only out of Alexandersson but also out of the two other medallists, being 1m45s quicker than Mari Fasting and 1m15s quicker than Svetlana Mironova.
Bobach had the second fastest split time for this leg, and both the other runners to do it in under 10m30s – Anne Margrethe Hausken Nordberg and Cat Taylor – took the same line as her. From the map this higher option appears to avoid much of the difficult vegetation that the other runners would have had to content with, and this may be the cause of the time difference.
Reigning champion Mironova had a fairly clean run aside from this to take the bronze medal, with no other major errors, but seemed to lack the running speed through this terrain to challenge Bobach.
Fasting was probably closer to Bobach in terms of speed, but aside from the time lost on the leg to control 9 she also lost just over a minute with a strange mistake at control 4, where she ran some distance out of the previous control in the wrong direction before realising her error. However, her performance through the rest of the course was still enough to earn her silver, her first individual World Championship medal.
Finally, some mention must be made of Minna Kauppi. The Finn has had a difficult World Championships, but was going strongly here until, again, that fatal leg to control 9 caused her to lose time. In Kauppi's case the error came through dropping far too far down the slope to the east, forcing her to climb back up through some tough vegetation to the control and costing her almost five-and-a-half minutes.
Bobach's triumph was richly deserved and caps an excellent World Championships for Denmark, in which they have taken four of the nine gold medals on offer with both strong individual and team performances. Bobach was clearly delighted as her gold was confirmed, and said:
I'm so happy – it feels unreal! I pushed really hard but I was in control the whole way round. Of course I've trained a lot here in Scotland as well as in Sweden and Norway. I'm so happy!
The future is certainly bright for Danish orienteering, with many of these team members still young and capable of improving even further over the next few years.
Gueorgiou completes a hat-trick of Long golds
Three men – Thierry Gueorgiou, Daniel Hubmann and Olav Lundanes – have dominated this discipline over the past few years, between them winning every world Long title since 2008, and Gueorgiou can now claim fairly to be the most dominant of the three: after his win in Glen Affric he's now won three Long gold medals in a row and four of the last five titles.
Gueorgiou would have been keen to make up for the disappointment of narrowly missing out on a medal in Tuesday's middle race, and although he didn't have a perfect run here – he acknowledged at the finish that he had lost some time on control 4 – it was enough for him to take victory in a closely-fought race.
GPS tracking reveals Gueorgiou's self-confessed mistake to be a small overshooting that cost him merely 45 seconds.
Daniel Hubmann took the siver medal, just 25 seconds behind Gueorgiou. Hubmann also lost time early in his course when he was very hesitant at and slightly overshot control 2, costing him around 35 seconds. He later confessed that he had had some difficulty understanding the map in this area.
Hubmann then made back a lot of time with an excellent route on the long leg to control 13. Of the other medal contenders only Frédéric Tranchand was close to Hubmann's time here: Lundanes was nearly 30 seconds slower, Matthias Kyburz and Fabian Hertner both about a minute slower, and Gueorgiou 1m16s slower.
Hubmann, Lundanes and Tranchand all took similar routes on this leg, and their line appears to be quicker than both Kyburz's route over the top of the hill and the eastern routes taken by Gueorgiou and Hertner, with Gueorgiou's in particular passing through some patches of difficult vegetation.
Hubmann took the lead for the first time after this leg, but quickly lost it again after dropping 30 seconds on a leg in the phi-loop. Unfortunately the GPS tracking for this leg is incomplete, so it's unclear what mistake he made here, although he does appear to hesitate twice some way short of the control circle.
This left Gueorgiou and Hubmann within two seconds of each other's times coming out of the loop section of the course. Hubmann then took a narrow lead and held on to it for several controls until control 26, where he lost 33 seconds to Gueorgiou.
Gueorgiou stayed high on this leg and avoided the worst of the vegetation, while Hubmann's lower route took him through a patch of fallen trees before he lost a few seconds locating the control when inside the control circle.
This error took Hubmann from 12 seconds in front of Gueorgiou to 21 seconds behind, and Hubmann was unable to make up the deficit around the remainder of the course, having to settle for silver.
The other athlete to mount a serious challenge for the gold was Hubmann's Swiss teammate Fabian Hertner. Hertner ran well through the first half of his course and actually had the leading time, ahead of both Hubmann and Gueorgiou, though the phi-loop.
However, Hertner lost his chance of gold with a big mistake of around 2m15s on the next leg to control 21, where he first took an large detour to avoid a marsh that the other leading athletes crossed, and then misjudged his approach to the control and started looking for the flag too high up the slope. Although he made up a little time later in the course, he finished fifth, behind Tranchand in fourth.
Olav Lundanes took the bronze medal, admitting at the finish that he was "really, really tired", but he should be happy with his result here after a year in which he has suffered from overtraining issues.
Gueorgiou, meanwhile, now has thirteen World Championship gold medals, and has firmly established himself as one of the all-time greats of the sport. He described his course as "tough, as expected", and added:
My performance wasn't brilliant, but technically I was okay, and during my run I just kept thinking "one step at a time, and you will reach the finish!"