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Last Updated:

January 10, 2024

Knock-Out Sprint is an exciting new sprint race format introduced in 2018 comprised of three rounds of short mass-start sprint races in which the top finishers in each race advance to the next round while later finishers are knocked out (eliminated). The day typically starts with a sprint qualification race to select the 36 men and 36 women for the men's and women's knock-out rounds. During the knock-out rounds, six athletes typically race head-to-head in each race.

Courses may include a butterfly loop (wherein all athletes visit the same controls but not in the same order), or in the 'self-choice' format, participants are given 20 seconds to choose from among three slightly different courses. Good courses will offer viable route choices on most legs. Winners typically gain an edge by staying cool under pressure and making the best route choices while running fast. See below a few video clips illustrating the 'self-choice' and butterfly loop scenarios.

Example of Knock-Out Sprint with 'self-choice' - courses with forking and athletes selecting their preferred course (2018 World Cup Final in Czechia, 1:07 time stamp)

Example of a Knock-Out Sprint course with map flip and arena passage (after control 3) and butterfly loops (controls 4 - 10) - courses assigned by officials (2018 World Cup Final in Czechia, 1:37 time stamp)

Here is a short video from a Knock-Out Sprint test race we ran on the University of Ottawa campus in 2023.

For the NAOC's we plan to offer a series of mass-start consolation races for athletes who do not qualify for the knock-out rounds, so that everyone can run at least two sprint courses and experience exciting head-to-head sprint racing.

What is Knock-Out Sprint?

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