Pedestrian Crossing Signal in Fredericia
Great Britain had a very successful championships. It was simply incredible.
The success began with the first of the five races, the Sprint Relay, where GB won silver. It was GB’s first medal after seven World Championships without one, and the first ever in a Sprint Relay. The success was crowned for GB in the last race as Megan Carter-Davies became World Champion in Individual Sprint. The team won four medals in all, which is as many as in the previous 17 years combined. Additionally there were two top-6 results, two top-10s, and three top-20s. Only 2 of the 13 entries were not at least top-20.
Update November 2022: The full TV broadcasts are available free of charge - International Orienteering Channel on YouTube; they are very good.
It was the first World Orienteering Championships (WOC) to include only the three sprint formats: individual sprint, knockout sprint and sprint relay. The championships took place in Denmark in late June 2022. The races were brilliantly planned and organized and deployed a vast number of volunteer marshalls to ensure everything went smoothly. It was a great achievement especially for a sprint championships with so much fine detail and critical timing for television involved. The venues were the cities of Kolding, Fredericia and Vejle of "The Triangle Region."
Full results of the competition are in IOF Eventor - WOC2022.
Megan Carter-Davies and Alice Leake, on the presentation stage together at the end of the Championships
Megan, still from the On The Red Line Interview.
For only the third time GB has an Individual World Champion.
Megan Carter-Davies won three medals:
Number One, World Champion Sprint Orienteering 2022
There were eight athletes in the team.
GB Team, World Champs 2022, from Charlotte Ward Instagram
All eight had run at WOC before: Alice, Charlotte, Kris, Megan and Ralph had 25 WOC appearances between them.
They all show their running ability outside orienteering. They have county cross-country vests, good results in trail and fell races and fine road and track times. Kris in particular has been hugely successful away from orienteering with a European Cross Country team silver medal, running for GB on the track, and a 63:05 half-marathon.
The success was the result of years of hard work. All the athletes were keen to take the opportunity to pay tribute to the considerable number of people that have helped them over the many many years: organizers and planners for all the races they have done, training partners, coaches, teammates in the major domestic races and those who keep the clubs going. The team’s success reflects well on the whole of the sport in the UK.
Megan with her partner Ben Mitchell, and longtime coaches Alice Bedwell and Mark Saunders, photo: MaprunnerGB
Alice and Mark, pictured here with Megan, have managed the team on several occasions, and were heavily involved in the junior development of the two Welsh members of the team: Megan and Kris.
Emil Wingstedt, who won seven WOC medals, has been assisting the GB team for several years and has been lead coach in the run-up to these championships. You can see Emil’s well received presentation to a British Orienteering Development Conference on the Federation YouTube channel.
That Great Britain is relatively strong in sprint orienteering compared to forest was widely understood beforehand and was made abundantly clear at the Championships. As well as the first sprint relay medal (GB had previously come, 6th, 15th, 4th, 6th, 7th and 6th), and three individual medals, there were two other podium (top 6) places, two other top-10 results, and three other top-20 results. In the knockout sprint five GBR athletes reached the semi-final stage (of 36 athletes in all), a number equalled only by Sweden. And Kris Jones was close to a medal in the individual sprint – he had run past a control to disqualify what was thought to be the bronze as he finished (he was last starter so his comparative time was known.)
The interviewer is Katherine Bett, who with Jonas Merz provided the commentary for the international broadcasts.
Kris talking after the Knockout Sprint
The Sprint Relay Team in the media zone after the race
The arena was at Kolding Castle in the centre of the City. It was sunny and being a Sunday the crowds were out. They had plenty to encourage them too as well as Denmark were right in the mix and in bronze medal position as the last leg began. Arena announcer Per Forsberg made sure the audience got the message, and so Dannebrog waving and high volume cheering was very much the thing.
The GB silver medal team was (in running order) Charlotte Ward, Ralph Street, Kris Jones and Megan Carter-Davies. The post-race interview provides the athletes' immediate view of how the race went.
The start in the castle grounds was crowded and difficult, with an uneven surface and steps. There were lots of artificial barriers. There was a noisy runthrough the arena before the halfway point of the course.
In the previous ten races, going back to and including WOC 2017 (in Estonia), Sweden and Switzerland had always finished in the first three. In the last five races Norway had been the other team in the top three.
With all three countries having their first choice runners the general expectation was thus that Sweden were favourites and Switzerland and Norway would be the other medallists.
Lina Strand established a lead for Sweden on leg 1, with Switzerland second, Charlotte third, and several other teams close behind.
At the runthrough on leg 2, Ralph was at the back of a group with Switzerland, Norway, Finland and Czechia, all chasing Sweden. Halfway round the second part of the leg, in a mistake that was more obvious to the TV audience than those in the arena, the teams ahead of Ralph took a wrong turn, and took varying amounts of time to work things out. Ralph didn't make the error, returning to the arena in a clear second place, and Lithuania, France and Denmark (cheer, cheer!!) after a different route on that leg, came back as the next pack. Poland were sixth.
On leg 3 Kris had a good run, and by the handover had a one-second lead over Sweden's Gustav Bergman, with the gap behind to Denmark in 3rd being 38 seconds.
On the final leg multiple World Champion Tove Alexandersson for Sweden did nothing wrong, and her speed took the win. Megan didn't have her cleanest run, but she kept Tove in sight to the run-through, and still had much the same margin to her chasers behind at the end. The chasers staged several fast finishes to decide third and the other podium places. Once again it was Andrine Benjaminsen for Norway who triumphed in this last leg situation, taking the bronze six seconds ahead of Elena Roos of Switzerland, who was two seconds ahead of Miri Thrane Oedum for Denmark, who was three seconds ahead of Cecilie Calandry for France.
It was the first time GB had finished in the first three of an international sprint relay.
Megan (left) and Charlotte (right) photo: IOF / William Hollowell
On the way to the first control: downhill on cobbles and steps and immediately a route choice, photo: MaprunnerGB
Kris Jones took GB into the lead on leg 3, photo: MaprunnerGB
In 2010 Denmark hosted the Junior World Championships (JWOC) and the British team included Kris Jones and Ralph Street. They already knew each other when they met in a car park in Sheffield as they started University in September 2009, but that marked the time when their orienteering paths became close. With Chris Smithard, Dave Schorah, John Rocke and others in ShUOC there was plenty happening, and in Graham Gristwood they had a mentor. They won the JK Relay and the Harvester in 2010. The club staged the Harvester the next year, Chris organising, Kris mapping and Ralph co-planning (with Laura Goy née Daniel.) In the years since their paths have coincided several times, and they have got on a WOC relay podium together three times (two forest, one sprint). They had a notable 1-2 on Jukola’s first leg in 2018.
How it was, how it’s going…
The Valiant Soldier Statue in Fredericia
The knockout sprints were in Fredericia, a major communications hub nowadays, historically a garrison town with a rectilinear street pattern and ramparts, both prominent features of the orienteering map. Early in the day there were qualification heats finishing near the beach, with the first 12 in each of three heats for each of the men’s and women’s making the knockout stages. All six British athletes made it through.
Ralph Street near the end of his qualification race
Further racing, the final stages, is then in groups of six. A quarter-final round, then a semi-final round, then the final, all for each of men and women, interleaved. The arena audience loved it.
After the qualification there was a “draw” for the quarter-finals, athletes taking it in turn to decide which quarter-final to run in. The people who came second in the qualification races chose first, then the heat winners, and then the third placed and so on down to the twelfth placed. There is perceived to be a slight advantage in the lower numbered heats because of greater resting time before semifinals and the final. In the women's early picks avoided heat 1, allowing Tove to be the first name there.
Heat number is not so much a consideration for those who think their challenge is reaching the semis: the relative strength of the heat and their chance of making the first three is the thing for them. Adding to the fun on the men's side there were some strong runners picking near the end§, so as time went on we saw the heats fill unevenly, as the last spaces in some heats (presumably ones considered less difficult) all got taken before one of the late choosing big names would make a heat much more difficult.
§ in fact in two of the men's quarter-finals, the last name to join, ie. the sixth name out of the six, won through to the final, and one of them won a medal.
Most of the athletes were glad to get the draw done and go off to rest before the knockout rounds.
Megan Carter-Davies in qualification
Late in the afternoon the athletes and crowds gathered in the main arena in the centre of Fredericia. As described above the races are all for six runners. In the “quarter-finals” the first three runners progress to the next round. In the semi-finals only the first two. And then it’s the two finals.
A quarter-final: Grace Molloy in the mix with Andrine Benjaminsen (Norway), Venla Harju (Finland) and Eef van Dongen (who won Netherlands first ever WOC medal in this competition)
There were twelve “quarter-finals”, each taking 7-8 minutes, and starting at 6 minute intervals. These were broadcast free-of-charge on the Live Orienteering Channel and it was fast and furious, although the races were very different in style.
There were then the three “semi-finals” for each of men and women, with just the first two runners getting to the final.
A semi-final: Jonny Crickmore and Kris Jones prepare to start, photo: MaprunnerGB
Five of the GB runners made the semi-final stage, Grace Molloy being the one not to make the first three in her race – she was fourth.
Of the five GB runners in the semis Kris and Megan qualified for their finals. They both ran strong semi-finals in a similar style, leading from the front.
Ralph, who had had a fierce sprint finish in his quarter-final had another in his semi and was overtaken on the run-in by the eventual silver medallist August Mollén (who has a 3:47 1500m). By some magic Ralph’s performance was adjudged as seventh in the competition.
Jonny Crickmore, in the same semi as Kris, came fourth, and Charlotte was also fourth in her semi.
Ralph edges in (his quarter-final) , photo: MapRunnerGB
Ralph edged out (his semi-final), photo: MapRunnerGB
Kris had run a brilliant semi-final, but he made a small mistake in the final and was unable to recover - it was just a podium place!
The women's final was won by Tove Alexandersson, whose speed took her away from all the other runners. Megan led the rest of the field home to win silver.
Megan Carter-Davies runs in ahead of Eef van Dongen (Netherlands) to take silver, photo: from On The Red Line video
The individual (or “classic”) sprint was the familiar morning qualification (15 runners from each of three heats) followed by finals, 45 runners at one minute intervals, men and then women, live on early evening television in eight countries. The racing was in Vejle, which would be departure city for The Tour de France three days later.
Five of the six British runners qualified for the final, Nathan Lawson missing out, nineteenth in his heat.
Nathan Lawson was nineteenth in his qualification heat, photo: Maprunner GB
The finals were in the centre of Vejle, with an arena runthrough including crossing through water. The courses were the most technical of the week.
The men’s final race was first. Kris was the last starter having won his qualification race (as had Charlotte and Megan theirs.) The arena announcer thought he was the bronze medallist from his time when he finished. But sadly he had not punched control 12, although he had run by it. It meant that the Belgian Yannick Michiels, who has won many medals in other competitions, at last satisfied his long quest for a WOC medal.
The gold was won by Kasper Fosser of Norway, and the silver by Gustav Bergman of Sweden. Kris’s mispunch also meant Ralph was sixth rather than seventh, becoming the sixth British man to make “the podium” (top 6) of an individual World Champs race. (The others are Kris, Graham Gristwood, Steve Hale, Scott Fraser and Jamie Stevenson. Scott and Jamie did it multiple times and won medals.) Ralph said he would much prefer to be seventh and Kris to have a medal.
Kris Jones through the water of the arena runthrough, photo: MaprunnerGB
Ralph Street through the water of the arena runthrough, photo: Christian Aebersold
In a sensational result, two British athletes won medals in the women’s race. Megan winning gold and Alice Leake bronze.
It was Alice’s sixth World Champs: she has run every sprint since the home World Champs in 2015, coming 8th in Latvia in 2018, and 4th in Czechia last year.
Simona Aebersold (Switzerland) with Megan Carter-Davies and Alice Leake, sprint medallists WOC 2022
Charlotte Ward was 17th, photo: Kell Sonnichsen
Alice Leake, photo: IOF/William Hollowell
As Megan was the last starter it was known she was the winner as she finished.
Megan Carter-Davies finishes the individual sprint, photo: Christian Aebersold