Ralph Street won the World Cup Sprint Race in Česká Lípa, photo: Rob Lines
Česká Lípa in North-East Czechia, close to where the World Champs were held in 2021, is hosting World Cup Round 2. The first race, on Wednesday August 2nd, was an individual sprint and Ralph Street won. He was the fifth last starter, came sixth in last year's World Champs, and has been running fast times in sprint relays in the last few years. Nevertheless his victory was unexpected by the commentators who bravely pick possible winners before a race! It was noted that the win came only a few weeks after the forest World Champs, which Ralph had prioritised in his training.
Five of the six GB men were in the top-22 (!) and so won World Cup points. This surely reflects first class team preparation. In the women's race Grace Molloy and Cecilie Andersen also won World Cup points. Unfortunately Charlotte Ward who had made the trip was not able to run because of an injury sustained in training the day before.
Post-Race Interview with Ralph, and the Flower Ceremony - @OnTheRedLineO Instagram
It was a remote rather than an arena start to pitch the athletes straight into technical challenge. Both courses had a similar structure, and they shared timing points. The men's course was slightly longer. After a short first leg into a playground, where the men and women had different controls, both courses had a long route-choice to a control in the market square. Then there were several short legs with changes of direction, and a visit to the ruined Castle. This was the men's course control 8 and the fixed camera of timing point 1. Then there was another long leg with route choice, into multi-level complexity in the Monastery gardens, at the end of which was timing point 2. There were some expensive mistakes in view of the cameras in the gardens. The last third of the course was then some more route choice legs, with a couple of quite straightforward controls in parkland right at the end as the runners finished at the Arena in front of its crowd.
In the men's race the Czech Jakub Glonek was quickest to the Monastery, but he had trouble (as did others) recognising the quickest routes for a control in a lower part of the garden. So Ralph set a new fastest time at timing point 2. Ironically he had only been on camera making a five second error in the castle that a great many other runners also did. He increased his lead to 14 seconds by the end, and that held through the final runners. Gustav Bergman of Sweden was second, and Yannick Michiels of Belgium third, one second behind Bergman. The podium was completed by Matthias Kyburz of Switzerland, Tomas Krivda of Czechia, and Tim Robertson of New Zealand (and a teammate of Ralph's on the "Orienteer Pod").
Gustav Bergman, Ralph Street and Yannick Michiels at the Flower Ceremony, Photo: still from IOF TV
In the women's race Simona Aebersold of Switzerland set the fastest time to control 10, but then, like Glonek, lost a lot of time at a multilevel route problem in the Monastery garden. Reasonable orienteering and her supreme speed led to a win for last starter Tove Alexandersson of Sweden. Her margin was an impressive 35 seconds, with second place going to the 17th starter (out of 128) Natalia Gemperle of Switzerland. Natalia had a top-10 World Ranking until about a month ago, but slipped down over 400 places as special rules for COVID expired, taking with them scores from longer ago races. She was on Web-TV in the current leader's chair for hours, and unfortunately she had not been selected to wear a GPS tracker so the TV could just show us her and not any of her routes. The one hour break in the women's starts whilst the "red zone" men start guaranteed some woman a long stay in the chair. Natalia was accompanied by her young child for the latter part of her stay - that made it a bit more interesting! Third was Sarah Hagstrom of Sweden, fourth Elena Roos of Switzerland, fifth Denisa Kosova of Czechia and sixth Ida Agervig Kristiansson of Denmark.
Women's Prizegiving. photo: Tomáš Bubela
In the men's race it was the leg 13-14 (map clip below) that caused most time loss. In the women's race the difficult control at the lower level in the Monastery garden came with leg 10-11. Simona Aebersold did only the 100th fastest time, taking her from the lead to 23rd (she recovered to 7th). Hanna Lundberg, the only one of the nine Swedes to finish lower than 16th, went from 3rd to 31st (she recovered to 23rd).
The Monastery Garden as used on the Men's course
Thanks to Rob Lines and Fred Härtelt for photos below. Rob's photo album on Flickr for this race.
Ralph's win came from a consistent run with good speed throughout. The only legs he was quickest on, before the two short legs right at the end, were legs 2 and 3.
In a post-race interview he could not explain what was different with this run, except that he didn't make a poor route choice at the end.
Ralph Street going well at Control 2 in the market square of Česká Lípa, photo: Rob Lines
Ralph Street in the Monastery Gardens, photo: Fred Härtelt
Jonny was 12th. His splits had him outside the top-20 until the 14th control in the Monastery garden, and he picked up some further places from there to the end..
Jonathan Crickmore in the Monastery Gardens, photo: Rob Lines
Chris was 19th. He picked up 8 places at Control 14.
Chris Smithard, photo: Rob Lines
Nathan was 22nd= with Peter Molloy. He picked up 17 places on the leg to control 14.
Nathan Lawson at the Castle, photo: Rob Lines
First year senior Peter Molloy seemed extremely surprised in a post-race interview that his run took him to 22nd= with Nathan. He ran hard throughout and he gained 15 places on the leg to control 14.
Peter Molloy enters the Castle, photo; Rob Lines
Freddie was making his international debut and came 97th.
Freddie Carcas in the market square, photo: Rob Lines
Grace Molloy took 16:08. After a steady start (outside the top-50 after nine minutes running) Grace did the fastest time to control 10, and then the 15th fastest on 10-11, the combined effect being a pickup of 17 places to 36th. She finished 34th. In that part of the results just some seconds makes a difference in places, such is sprint orienteering. Grace was 20 seconds off the top-20.
Grace Molloy between the last two controls, photo: Rob Lines
And Cecilie finished one second behind Grace in 35th: they had identical run-in times.
Cecilie Andersen, photo: Rob Lines
Laura was 54th.
Laura King, photo: Rob Lines
In her senior debut Rachel was 75th. She recovered well after a time loss to the 6th control.
Rachel Brown, photo: Fred Härtelt
Chloe was 88th. From Winsplits Chloe lost 41 places on the long leg after the Monastery, that to control 14.
Chloe Potter, photo: Rob Lines