Ralph Street in a WOC Test Race, credit Petr Kadeřávek
The World Championships (WOC) in Czechia begin with Sprint Qualifications and Final on Saturday 3rd July.
The Great Britain Team has been selected. The team includes six women and seven men, and includes five athletes making their WOC debut. As the other eight all have at least three previous WOCs, it is an easy description that the team combines a lot of experience with the several newcomers.
Many congratulations from On The Red Line to the whole team and especially the WOC debutants: Alastair Thomas, Cecilie Andersen, Grace Molloy, Nathan Lawson and Peter Bray. Alastair and Grace are first year seniors. Nathan is not (yet) a member of the squad.
The World Championships in Czechia begin on the 3rd July. The first event is the Sprint, 1,064 days since the previous World Champs Sprint, in Riga in August 2018. The following day is the Sprint Relay (the same gap since the previous one). For many of the athletes that will be at least a thousand training sessions.
Had the COVID pandemic not come about these races would not be taking place. Last year there would have been a Sprint Champs. This year the Czech organizers would only be putting on races in the three forest formats, following the pattern of alternate years for forest/sprint World Champs. The sport owes a big thanks to the organizers for adding the sprints, taking on the full work of an old-style Championships. In addition to which there is a tremendous extra workload arising from COVID rules and precautions.
Britain is hoping to send a full team. This last weekend in May were the final sprint selection races for the team, and next weekend will be the final forest ones.
Organisers in Neuchâtel
The European Sprint Orienteering Championships did take place. The place was Neuchâtel, Switzerland; it looked lovely. The weather was a bit rainy. The Swiss, Swedish and Norwegian teams provided the medal winners, apart from Yannick Michiels (who got an EOC medal after many close misses, and lots of wins in other World Cup races.) And there was a small British team taking part.
On May 13th, there was an International Sprint Relay, the first since the the final round of the 2019 World Cup. In fact the whole meeting was the first senior international since then. May 14th was the Sprint Qualification. Saturday May 15th was the Knockout Sprint Final stages of quarter-finals, semi-finals and finals. Sunday May 16th was the individual sprints.
The three days that medals were awarded had excellent TV coverage. Throughout, COVID secure protocols were in place, and substantially there were no local spectators apart from the organisation team, but as it was sprint racing in an urban setting there were always some people about.
As Lockdown began there were eight GB athletes in the top 50s of the Sprint World Rankings
The pandemic has made clear there are important things bigger than any sport. Health, wellbeing, work, travel, weddings, family visits. Gosh, it even stopped professional football and reduced how much it was in the news.
Those for whom orienteering is a big recreational interest felt quite a sense of loss, as planned outings and trips were cancelled, and events didn't happen.
And so midsummer 2020 passes with no Jukola. There were no events in the spring. The 2020 international orienteering programme has been lost to the pandemic.
The cancellation of the international programme was particularly hard on the top international sprint-focused orienteers, as they had "waited" through 2019, a year with no World or European Champs in the sprint disciplines. And with the pandemic, with another cancellation for 2021, none were scheduled for 2020 or 2021 either.
Several GB squad athletes were in this position. They are mainly focused on the format and they were on track to be at the top of their game this year.
The recent news about next year's international programme, namely that (fingers crossed) there will be major international sprint orienteering at European and World level, is therefore very good.
Fiona Bunn is one of five newcomers to the GB Senior Squad. Credit: JWOC2019 Denmark.
The GB 2020 Senior Squad was announced at the end of January, news somewhat buried by the departure of the UK from the European Union on the same day.
On The Red Line We add our congratulations to the newcomers, and we thank those leaving for their contribution in previous years.
There are 24 athletes. 18 are based in the UK and six in Scandinavia. 15 of them have run at a World Championships. Coincidentally, 24 was also the size of the initial squads announced for 2018 and 2019.
It is an achievement to be invited to join. It brings cachet. It doesn't of itself bring any financial benefit though; there is no official squad training, and it is not referenced in the selection policy. Membership may help provide evidence on the policy's additional criteria, such as commitment to a positive team environment, but it is not the only way to do that. The GB international teams can and often do select non-squad athletes. Graham Gristwood ran the long at last year's World Championships.
New to the squad this year are Adam Potter (Bristol O.K.), Ben Mitchell (Swansea Bay O.C.), Cecilie Andersen (Bristol O.K.) and Sarah Jones (Edinburgh Southern O.C.), all relatively young runners who ran in the later rounds of last year's World Cup. Another newcomer is first year senior Fiona Bunn (Thames Valley O.C.), who won two medals at last year's Junior World Championships (JWOC).
Picture: Last year's GB World Cup Team
COVID-19 As you can imagine this was written before the introduction of the extensive social distancing measures introduced as a response to the spread of the virus causing COVID-19. Many of the events described will be cancelled.
In 2020 it is the first Sprint Orienteering World Championships, with Sprint Relay, Individual Sprint and the new Knockout Sprint. Denmark host, from 6th - 11th July, with the racing in Kolding, Fredericia and Vejle.
The European Championships are hosted by Estonia centred on Rakvere, and are the week of 6th - 23rd August. They include Middle, Long and Forest Relay.
The World Champs are not included in this year's World Cup, the European Champs are (as Round 2). There are two other rounds: Switzerland 20th - 24th May is Round 1, and Italy 1st - 6th October is the World Cup Final.
The Junior World Champs are in Turkey from 28th June - 5th July.
All are accompanied by open races, providing an opportunity for spectating orienteers to take a full-on experience of running and following the international racing.
Here's a summary of six British Championships of 2019.
Photo: Rob Lines
Organised by Mar Orienteering Club at Muir of Dinnet on Saturday 23rd February.
The 2019 Nokian Tyres World Orienteering Championships (WOC) took place in Østfold, Norway from 13th - 17th August. Østfold is the county of the south-east part of Norway, between Oslo and Sweden. The event centre was the city of Sarpsborg. The Championships were very well organised, and the accompanying spectator races were also well attended.
The nine athletes of the Great Britain Team for the 2019 World Champs. Credits: Matt Speake by Karl Orud, Jo Shepherd by WOC2018 Latvia, Charlotte Watson and Megan Carter-Davies by South London Orienteers (from the "Get up to Speed" videos), others by On The Red Line.
It was a forest only World Championships. All three finals, long, middle and relay, were held from a specially constructed arena at Mørk Golf Club, in the middle of the previously unmapped forest. Long and middle used an arena start, and all courses had an arena passage.
Great Britain took a team of nine athletes, supported by Team Manager Ed Nicholas, Coach Liz Campbell and Physio Jane Ashbrook. Of the nine, four are based in Britain (two of whom have spent several years in Sweden), four in Norway and one in Sweden. All had run at least two World Champs before.
Full results are in IOF Eventor - WOC2019.
JK2019 Middle Distance Prizewinners, credit: Iain Shepherd
The 2019 took place in central Southern England from April 19th - 22nd.
The weather was exceptionally warm and dry, and everything about the competition was very good, except the results service and timing which were not up to it.
(It's late Tuesday evening now, and "All results are now under review and will be published as soon as they are validated.")
Top three in the Women's Overall enjoying the weather, credit: Iain Shepherd