team

A sport's World Championships aren't just about medals. They are an occasion when the sport celebrates its attraction and strengths, and shows the top level of the sport to those who take part at any level and to a wider audience.

Expect therefore that next week the International Orienteering Federation will say how many countries are taking part, and for all the competitions to have features that help make a spectacle. So for example there will be some easier controls sited with TV in mind - there will be many other tougher controls out of sight of the cameras. (The championships are carried live by Norwegian, Swedish, Finnish, Danish and Estonian National TV, as well as by Web-TV - just 10 euro for the three days.)

Nevertheless it might be interesting to think about the destination of the 18 medals.

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LogoKangasala-Jukola Logo from the Organisation Website

The weekend of 15th/16th June is the Venla and Jukola Relays in Finland. It's both a big festival weekend - the above logo is out directing traffic on the main motorways several days beforehand - and one of the main competitive weekends of the international orienteering calendar. The relays are a mix of top-level and participation sport like the London Marathon but with a team ethos. It's a tradition, and it gets a great deal of general interest in Finland. There is also something of a link to Finnish national consciousness with it moving round the forests and its naming from the first great work of Finnish literature.

Some numbers: The competition centre, accommodation and parking takes 70 hectares. There are about 1750 tents, 450 provided by the military. 50,000 people will be in and around the competition area over the weekend.

As they say "For a good accomplishment the orienteer needs resolution, persistency and brisk sports spirit."

And thanks to World of O "All You Need to Know" to follow the racing.

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ChampionsBritish Champions 2019, Photo: Rob Lines

Today is the 1st June and as the vegetation in the forests gets high the orienteering season for many of the leading British runners passes from a domestic focus to an overseas one. Most of the big domestic competitions (the "major events") have been run, and the first senior international races, in Finland, are next weekend. That is World Cup Round 1, which also includes a sprint relay in the centre of Helsinki the following Tuesday The weekend after is Jukola and Venla. These relays have a record entry of over 20,000 this year - the organisers attribute it partly to the "growth ... of fitness orienteering". In early July, test races for the World Champs take part, after which the British team will be selected. The World Champs themselves are forest disciplines only, in Norway in August, just after the Scottish 6-Days. And then, with more of a sprint focus, there are World Cup Round 3 (September, Switzerland) and 4 (October, China).

2018 Jukola After Movie.

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Hollie2014 Hollie Orr, winner of the JOK Chasing Sprint at Birsemore in 2014

On The Red Line The World Orienteering Championships (WOC) come to Scotland in 2022 and, with forest and sprint championships alternating, they are for the sprint disciplines. Sprint Scotland (20th-23rd June) - see the impressive international startlist - and the JOK Chasing Sprint on June 28th in Callendar Park Falkirk, are both significant competitions on the way. The great appeal of the chasing sprint as a spectator event is the winner is the first to cross the line. And the name? "JOK" stands for Jesus Orienteering Klubb, the orienteering club for alumni of Oxford University. Their emblem is a pig with wings. Thanks to "Porky" for this preview.

Many of our top racers will be in action at this 25th year of the JOK Chasing Sprint, held in conjunction with the BBC Scotland TV programme The Adventure Show who plan to broadcast live.

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ph2Photo: Peter Hodkinson, the 2018 men's champion, with the (heavy) trophy.

This coming holiday weekend it is the British (Classic Distance) Championships, and also the British Mixed Sprint Relays and the British Relays. The three days are hosted by the Yorkshire & Humberside Orienteering Association.

  • May 4th: British Mixed Sprint Relays, Bradford University.
  • May 5th: British Long Distance Championships, Arncliffe & Kilsey North,
  • May 6th: British Relay Championships, Middleton Park, Leeds.

Final Details.

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KrisPhoto: Kris Jones in last year's World Champs Forest Relay, by Janis Ligats for WOC2018 Latvia.

(This is a republication of a post inadvertently deleted, although given how Kris's predictions turned out - not entirely Kris's fault with both tipped men not starting - we perhaps need not have bothered )

Kris Jones is not running the JK this year. He is currently recovering and training in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Kris wrote about his injury for "Fast Running".

Kris provides his thoughts about the racing, and bravely predicts which of his fellow GB athletes might take the wins.


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KrisPhoto: Kris Jones in last year's World Champs Forest Relay, by Janis Ligats for WOC2018 Latvia.

On The Red Line Comment. Most years the JK Middle is arguably the most competitive domestic race. This is because of the quality of the terrain, map and planning, the quality of the field (and that they are all going 100%) and the timing with regard to selection. This year the men's field has all the top runners from the UK ranking list (Alasdair McLeod, Will Gardner, Peter Hodkinson, Jonny Crickmore) an experienced international based in Norway (Matt Speake) plus a proven world-class international coming back from injury (Graham Gristwood). The Women's field has top runners from the UK ranking list (Megan Carter-Davies, Alice Leake) experienced internationals based in Scandinavia (Jo Shepherd, Jess Halliday, Charlotte Watson) and a proven world-class international coming back from injury (Cat Taylor.) And by the way It's one of three forest races in the UK this year with World Ranking status. As many will know the JK was in South Central England in 2013, again using Cold Ash for the long race, when the overall winners were Matt Speake and Cat Taylor.

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Kris

Kris Jones, winner of the JK Sprint the last three years (and planner in 2014), is not running this year. He is currently recovering and training in Albuquerque, New Mexico. So we will have a new men's champion. Kris wrote about his injury for "Fast Running".

Kris provides his thoughts about the racing, and bravely predicts which of his fellow GB Squad athletes might take the wins.


We think both these races look very open.

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chris Chris Smithard, last year's Senior Men's winner, pictured in the JK Sprint.

In the UK there are several “leagues” scoring over multiple races. The League that appeals to many runners in the open and top junior classes is concentrated in the main Spring season when most UK forests are at their best. Runners enjoy taking part in the top quality races where there are large fields and strong runners.

It is called the UK Elite Orienteering League. In 2019 the League will run for the fifth time. The races are within two months over five weekends, from a sprint race in early March to the British Champs in early May. The included weekends for 2019 are the Northern Championships Weekend, the Lakes Spring Weekend including the Red Rose Classic, the Scottish Spring, the JK Festival, and the British (Long) Championships. All but the last weekend include multiple scoring races. (The final league positions are best six scores from earlier rounds plus the final race.)

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Spain Warm weather trainng

British squad members Alex Carcas, Matt Fellbaum, Jonny Crickmore and Sasha Chepelin were in the Edinburgh University performance orienteering team (EUOC) attending a warm weather camp in Barbate, Andalucía, España. For a week they’d be switching the rain, wind and snow for the sun, skog[1] and suspicious parents. The Edinburgh University Performance Orienteering team is funded by Winning Students and the University, to help the athletes to produce good results at the British University Championships and at international competitions.

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