This years JWOC was held in southern Switzerland, alongside the Swiss 5-day event, with Christian Foley Fisher and myself
both running in their second JWOC.
We headed out a few days early to acclimatise (and work on our tans.) The real thing that struck me was the size of the
mountains. They just kept going up, higher and higher, with the locals thinking nothing of them at all, whereas I was ready
for a break by the time we had walked to the start of the training maps due to the climb and the average temperature of 25°.
The JWOC athletes accommodation was in the Centro Sportivo Tenero, which is a Swiss Olympic training village complete with
facilities for every summer Olympic sport, and even a small beach at the bottom of the grounds on the shore of Lago Maggiore
which ran down into northern Italy.
The middle distance terrain was technically steep, rocky and extremely rough terrain with the organizers constructing a
bridge over the local main road for competitors to run across on the run-in. The most notable result was perhaps Hanny Allston's
3rd place in the women's race for Australia.
The classic was the by far the most demanding race, technically and physically that I have ever done, backed by the fact
that over 20 men failed to finish the 9.5 km course with 485m climb. Again the terrain was rocky and most of all extremely
steep. I suffered very costly mistakes in the first third of the course which was extremely detailed, I improved considerably
in the middle, only to suffer terribly in the heat and humidity on the last loop. With no energy I have no idea how I managed
to make it to the finish at all.
With only 2 runners we were unable to have a competitive relay team in the semi-open alpine terrain with rather dense forest.
Over 1500 spectators making the climb to the small plateau at 1800 metres, next to the ski lifts to see Norway take gold in
both the men's and woman's relays by considerable margins over the rest of the field. The TV crews took the easier option
using a helicopter to film the mass starts. Never before have I been so tired after a weeks orienteering, although I have
to say roll on Lithuania '06!
Patrick Higgins (From Crossing Point, the NIOA Newsletter