Not happy in the end


How come after 2 weeks of adventure, after finishing my career in style, after spending a good time with friends, I return home from China and feel like I've stepped on a big fresh cow patty?

It's the typical question and answer game of trying to explain orienteering to a non-orienteering person:

- Do you see the course and the terrain before a competition?
No, nobody is allowed to enter the terrain or see the course beforehand.
How do you check that?
You can’t, you just don’t do it.
Are you f*** kidding me? And that works?
Yes, and I am very pleased that everyone follows this rule. Orienteering is a very fair sport.

I believed it during my 11-year career, but in my last competitions of my career in China I had to learn a new lesion. That makes me angry. There was such obvious cheating by the Chinese military orientation team that I had to laugh about its stupidity in the first place. The aftermath quickly became very political and annoying. Only a few days later we started again at the World Cup. Unfortunately, there was a big confusion with the map quality in the middle distance competition, which led to long discussions. After a nice sprint relay, we were again confronted with Chinese runners at the top of the result list. This time, as the IOF states, "There was and is no verifiable proof nor material evidence of any wrongdoing ". I trust the Chinese as much as I trust anyone else. I would like to appreciate and accept their achievements, but my mind refuses. There is far too much evidence against such a performance. We will know more after the next competitions...

The events are discussed in an Opens external link in new windowIOF Statement or in various forums, e.g. Opens external link in new windowhere.

You see why I had this bad feeling now, a few days later. It's a pity: In China there are great places for sprint orienteering with good maps, the organization was impressive and went smoothly. That was sad with the map quality on the Middle distance that caused a bad atmosphere among the runners, mainly against the control mechanisms of the IOF and the decision of the jury. However, we should remember that it was the first orienteering event of this magnitude in China and mistakes can happen (by the way: we are mainly talking about an olive area that was drawn 1mm too thin on the map - not that big mistake), even if they should not have happened on that level. But I am confident that these issues can be solved.

I am more concerned with the question in which degree orienteering can remain a fair sport. It will never be 100% fair. But it's a crucial difference whether you deliberately violate the rules or not. I also became aware of how little injustice I have experienced in orienteering sport or in my life so far and how much energy I consequently needed for processing and classification. I hope that runners and organizers will find a way to establish rules that prevent runners from pointing fingers at each other, how it happened now and how I did it. It feels bad, and there would also be good reasons to question my performances. Take the World Cup Round in Switzerland this September. I was having dinner with one of the Course Setter the week before the race, who is a close friend of mine. Also, all other Course Setters were former coaches or team mates in the national team. The person who was responsible for the map layout is my boss at work. I would have been in the embargoed area within two hours and nobody would have noticed. And by the way: The Course Setter for the selection race, which got me to this Word Cup Round, was my wife. Sounds all like a joke, but it's not.

I was 8th in the middle distance, missed the qualification of the Knock-Our Sprint and finished 9th in the sprint race. Maybe I was just too bad that someone got suspicious and accused me of fraud. Or it is because over many years I have achieved similar results in different disciplines and regions. I also train and discuss with other people. This obviously resulted in respect and trust of the other runners towards me, which makes me feel good and proud.

I thank you all for that!


PS: I will write a last article on that homepage, which will hopefully be a little more cheerful.






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