Alice Leake on her way to "4th in the World". photo: Lukáš Budínský.
The World Championships (WOC) in Czechia began with the Individual Sprint races on Saturday 3rd July. Morning qualification was followed by afternoon finals.
The racing was at Terezín, which was a great setting. It's an eighteenth century fortress, comprising a citadel and a walled garrison town by the Ohře river just south of where it joins the Elbe. It's multi-level and the planners cleverly used artificial barriers to set some intriguing problems for the athletes. The TV broadcast was very well done. It was compelling viewing, showcasing the top-level of the sport at its best through great filming with smart graphics, GPS tracking and astute and well-informed commentary.
The finals, with the men going first, used very similar courses. The wins were not similar though. In the men's race many of the runners ran quickly enough to take the win, and it was the route choices and ability to reduce hesitations that made the difference. Isac von Krusenstierne who was ranked just outside the World's Top 50 beforehand, and who had been 13th in his heat (with 15 to qualify), handled things best and took the win. In the women's race Tove Alexandersson's speed was unmatched by anyone, so much so that a 30 second error (possibly partly the result of artificial barriers towards the end of a long leg) was not enough to stop her taking gold.
Five of the British runners (photos of all six below) qualified for the finals, Cecilie Andersen missing out.
Alice Leake achieved an outstanding 4th=, a mere 4 seconds off the medals. Grace Molloy in her first senior race, was 12th, saying it couldn't have gone much better. Peter Hodkinson was 14th, Chris Smithard 24th and Nathan Lawson, also debuting for the senior team, was 25th.
Terezín is a memorial to people as well as well as to fortress engineering. In World War II, after Czechoslovakia was annexed, the fortress became a Nazi prison and a crowded Jewish ghetto and concentration camp was established in the town. It was known by the German name Theresienstadt. The Wikipedia entry says about 2500 died in the prison and 33000 died in the Ghetto.
Memorial Cemetery in front of the Little Fort in Terezín, Czech Republic
The engineering of a strong fortress in the age of gunpowder is very costly, with a large area of triangular bastions, heavy, thick brick (does not shatter like stone) walls and extensive earth moving. The complexity of glacis, covered ways, gun emplacements and tunnels can create marvellous sprint orienteering however.
Explanation of tunnel mapping
The latter part of the Women's course
World of O - Report, Links, Maps, Splits
World of O - Analysis of Mens Race
World of O - Analysis of Womens Race