In the previously unmapped karst terrains near Couvin, Belgian elite runner Fabien Pasquasy organised the very first HOCup this weekend. Three events were organised: a model event, a sprint and a middle distance. The sprint and middle distance races were the French speaking community championships in these disciplines. The best Walloon runners were present, together with French teams from Besançon and Douai and some Flemish runners, including the Slok students team.
The model event took place on the map "Les grottes de Neptune" and featured something that looked like a giant hill at first sight, but a closer look revealed a giant depression, not seen on a Belgian map before. The rest of the run consisted of getting acquainted with rocks and downhills, which was quite a long time ago.
The first serious event was the sprint race in and around the town of Nismes. The first controls were on a large open hill, which required careful orienteering, as several runners ran past their controls. The race then proceeded into the centre of the town, with some controls near the old castle. The finish area was a park, with route choices with bridges.
One interesting thing to note is that in the case of controls 16-17 and 17-18 both routechoices were equally fast in running time. The runners who decided in advance or very fast whichever route they were going to take were the fastest runners there!
The men's class was won by French runner Johann Tinchant (in HOC's relay team), who was just 3 seconds faster than TAD's Simon Leroy. Raptor Etienne Van Gasse took the third position 12 seconds behind. He said, however, that his real goal was the Slok mass start event on wednesday and that this race was just a training run. 7 runners arrived within one minute of the winner, leaving the middle distance on sunday to decide which runner was going to win HOCup.
In the women's class, Flemish runner Greet Oeyen (hamok) took the victory, 20 seconds faster than Slok's Miek Fabré and exactly one minute faster than Aline Hermans.
The middle distance race was quite long for a middle distance race, especially for the Women's class, but well, the terrain was so nice that it was a pleasure to run a longer middle distance.
The first controls were in a detailed area, and the race continued in larger rocks in open terrain, before reaching its climax in the un-Belgian forest right before the finish.
The men's class was once again won by Tinchant, with Van Gasse in second position and Slok runner/coach Thomas van der Kleij taking the third place. He won in a time of about 57 minutes. For good measure: Fabien Pasquasy's trial run when he was still injured took him 48 minutes.
With his second victory, Tinchant also won HOCup, with Van Gasse second and vdK hopping over quite a few runners to the third position, seconds ahead of Ardoc's Michel Bastin.
The women's class was won by Finnish runner Annamari Vierikko. She was almost two minutes faster than sprint winner Oeyen, who took the overall ranking. Numbers 2 and 3 of the sprint race were plagued with problems, with Fabré not wanting to risk her ankle, which she injured during the junior team training camp in Sweden and Hermans mispunching.
This year's event was certainly worth the time and I guess the maps were slightly cooler than the Flemish District championship. Let's hope that the maps can be raced on during important events in the future. (No Belgian champs as Pasquasy himself wants to win that :-)
This report kindly sponsored by: