JWOC Jaffe Files - Relay and Wrapup
Monday, 17 July 2017
A sunny day, bordering on warm for the relays. By all
accounts the Finns were a shoe in for the boys and the Swiss a shoe in for the
girls but relays are a law unto themselves.
The organisers put the Finn 5 competition on before the
relays which meant that many Finss upped and left! In the arena there was
a reasonable run through but no big screen and many of us couldn’t get tracking
to work but the commentary was a bit better today. We learned fun facts
like Simona Abersol and one of her swiss mates have lived in Tampere for a
year before the event. Now that is pretty serious prep.
There were 58 boy’s teams and 47 girls. The top ten is
incredibly competitive. The top two teams of Finland, Norway and Sweden nearly
always rank in the top 10, throw in the Swiss, Danes, French, Brits and Czech’s
and that’s 12-15 quality teams. For Australia to make the top 20 is an
achievement. The terrain today was very similar to the Long map. Small
rocky knolls, green patches, marshes and rides. The competitors didn’t know it
but there was splitting on four controls so following was a risky
business. However, on leg one there are always benefits of hunting in
packs. Many teams achieved their best leg time on leg 1 as a result.
The boys relay started over an hour before the girls.
Aston and Jarrah (in his last JWOC race) were on leg 1 – probably our two
fastest runners. Aston had shown yesterday he could hang with a pack running
the last 5 controls with eventual medallist Simon Hector. At the
spectator we waited anxiously as Norway led in followed by Finland and
France. It was close. Aston was in 13th place and well
in contention. Jarrah quite a bit further back around 30th.
Mike Dowling commented to me “well that makes a change, we haven’t dropped our
bundle on the first leg”. He tempted fate. On the short second loop Aston
had problems at the “split” control and told us afterwards he had visited all
three controls – value for money but perhaps not the tactics Ralph had in mind.
The net result was that Aston came back 30th and Jarrah 42nd.
After such as promising start it was a bit deflating. Aston’s time was
only 4 minutes down on the leaders but leg 1 is always tightly bunched as many
runners get a tow.
Joe Dickenson took over. He has been the form runner all
week. He told me later that he felt great on the tracks but slow in the
terrain. He looked strong and ran a solid leg. He raised the team
up five places and his time was 36.52 perhaps also a couple of minutes down on
what he might have hoped for but even “the big unit” (Mike D’s nickname) must
tire. Meanwhile the Norwegians continued to surprise and Finland 2
overtook Finland 1 who were down to 6th. Alex Chaplin of GB
had them in 4th in a tight pack with Russia 3rd and Finland 2.
Finland 1 were 6th so Oli O had over two minutes to make up on
Norway. That would really round out his week and jwoc career.
Meanwhile Simeon B had a run he’d rather forget and dropped the second
team to 45th.
Patrick took over from Joe and looked very determined.
There was a three minute gap ahead of him so he would have to run his own race
although 3-4 countries were close behind. At the spectator he looked very
calm and his running form was good. Unfortunately he came through the
spectator just as the men’s race came to a close. Norway ran three great legs of
under 30 minutes. Oli O did a great job to lift Finland to the silver with
Russia third. Sweden and Switzerland (Imark and Hadorn) had a thrilling
run in battle for 5th and 6th and the Swede just held on.
Patrick says he “wobbled a bit” on the second loop but came in nearly 90
seconds faster than Joe in 35.31 for 25th place. He looked
very strong on the run in and ran a pretty clean race. That made us 17th
country – better than last year and with some good scalps behind us. But
NZ were well ahead of us thanks to great legs form Tommy Hayes and Nick
Smith. Toby Wilson ran 42.03 to bring the second team up to 42nd.
The girls race had just started when the men finished.
Again Norway started really well and led for the first two legs.
Tara and Rachel went off first. The idea was that Tara had the speed to hang
with the packs but she told me later it was too hard. She had a mirror of
Aston’s run coming in 30th in 40.24. the difference is that Aston
was only 5 minutes down on the leaders to Tara’s 10 because the girls are more
spread out. Rachel came back in 42nd place (just like jarrah) in
49.14. Zoe took over after a strong week and climbed to 26th with a
time of 42.28. She looked strong but hit the finish control from an odd
angle. Not as bad as the Russian girl who ran from her finish control to
the top of the shoot and then back to the last control etc. She obviously
enjoyed the sheering crowds. Winnie O pulled the girls second team up to 37th
Meanwhile Norway led from Sweden and Switzerland and again
the script seemed to have been written as Simona A took over for the Swiss.
Norway dropped their bundle two years ago on the last leg so history looked set
to repeat. Well not quite. Linnea Golsater of Sweden ran the fastest leg
of the day by over 48s. She was the only girl to break 30. So even
though Swiss Simona did the third fastest leg, it wasn’t enough. Sweden
ran over Norway as did the Swiss and that was the result Sweden, thanks to a
great last leg, Switzerland and Norway. Both individual triple gold
winners got Silver today . Finland 2 were 4th and Finland 1
Asha was having the best Aussie run of the day and of her
week. She looked great in the finish and held on to 26th place in
39.47. She said after the race that it had been her best JWOC and she had her
best results in almost every event. The women’s teams 26th meant
they were also 17th country. Caroline Piggerre finished off
for the girls second team in a respectable 34th with 46.31. I
left before the coaches race finished but Ralph was looking confident.
So how did we go over the week? Firstly the team were
happy and got on very well. We didn’t quite have the stand out performance of
last year (henry’s 6th, Matt’s long top 20 or Lanita’s 23rd
in sprint) because the strength of this team was younger and less experienced.
Aston, Asha and Patrick all improved on last year. Aston showed great potential
in the Long and nearly the middle. Asha had her best JWOC and Patrick was
pretty pleased with how he ran most races and he will be able to prepare better
when he isn’t doing a 60 hours a week job. Joe Dickinson had a stand out
carnival and looks to have really clicked with the sport. He is a big strong
guy so this terrain suited him but he ran well technically also. Zoe
Dowling also had a good carnival and I was impressed with Caroline and Rachel
in their first JWOC’s. They are young and will improve. It was fun to be
around this group and I think they will spur each other on to greater things
On my soap box:
The standard here is very high. In the boys sprint,
for example two minutes separated the top 80. Losing 30 seconds drops you
20 places! As spectators we were disappointed that Fin 5 had equal
footing with JWOC. They also relied on the digital content but there was no
wifi at assembly so you had to pay to get live results and sat tracking. We
understand remotely it was great and you had different commentary. The arenas
were passable at best and there was no big screen, no run through for the
long and often spectator controls were a long way from everything
else. Today the spectator control, run through and final control were in
3 corners of the field with impassable finish lanes etc in between.
That was fairly typical of the week. Technically the middle qual was not
as complex as it should have been ( the last 5 controls of 14 were all path
runs) and the Finish coach told me that the controller told the planner to make
the courses easier as he was worried for the lesser nations. If that is
true, it’s a shame and pretty silly as the long is far more of a struggle for
those countries. The sprint times also suggested more complexity was needed. If
the times are that close then no one is making mistakes.
It was a huge undertaking for the Finns. The fin 5
involves something like 40 courses. They are used to organising those and less
used to organising JWOCs. However, overall it was great that so many
nations got on the podium and today proved that nothing in this sport is a
foregone conclusion. I think Hanny did a great job as manager and Ralph
has been very popular so that helped bring the group together.
I hope this has helped but I know the coverage was pretty
good so I’ll sign off. You’ll see in the pics that Patrick was already ready to