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.Continue reading...
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).Continue reading...
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.Continue reading...
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.Continue reading...
Kangasala-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."Continue reading...
British 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).Continue reading...
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.Continue reading...
Photo: 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.
Photo: 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 provides his thoughts about the racing, and bravely predicts which of his fellow GB athletes might take the wins.
Photo: 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.