ATAlastair Thomas took the M21E win on Saturday

It was a great weekend of top quality orienteering in the Lakes on the weekend of October 3rd/4th. Many thanks to Lakeland O.C, Warrior O.C., and the many top orienteers who attended. It was surely the strongest field in the UK this year that has been so disrupted by COVID.

The weekend was part of the UK Elite Orienteering Leaguewho encouraged attendance, and will be as close as we are going to get to a National Champs this year. The League is doing a great job of promoting the sport across the open age categories and both days had a distinct buzz in the socially distanced car parking.

Saturday Results

Sunday Results

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mapClipmap: Part of Graythwaite

Heavy driving rain is in prospect to add to the challenge of tomorrow's race on the steep and rocky slopes of Rusland Beeches. It's the first of two days orienteering in the Lake District, named "Lakes Reloaded" as it's been put together relatively quickly by normal standards - with the aim of a chance for some top competition. Because of Lockdown, this year's domestic season ended in March almost as soon as it started and before all but one of the major races took place. Also the entire international programme has had to be scrapped.

Encouragingly "Lakes Reloaded" is being well-supported and the startlist seems the strongest field of 2020 in the UK.

It's a middle race on the Saturday afternoon, and then a full length (90/75 minutes target times) long at the Graythwaite Estate on Sunday. The racing will run like the JK individual forest races, with the Saturday seeded and Sunday starts in reverse order of Saturday's times.

Saturday Startlist

Weather Forecast

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FlagsThe season finished not soon after it started.

In the UK we had racing until the middle of March. And then it all stopped. The British Nights were held. The first round of the UK Elite League took place.

There were immediate cancellations/postponements of the big Spring events and the Welsh multiday summer festival. Other events, such as the Home Internationals, held out hope for varying lengths of time, but in the end none could see a way to take place. And that was pretty much it for racing in the UK.

There may be a short Autumn flurry, as has already started in Sweden and Norway - let's see.

But there was considerable creativity on recreational lines. Clubs created MapRun courses for independent exercise, and many regular orienteers reminded themselves about permanent courses. There were the Lockdown festivals.

And so it was across the world, and we had little of our usual fare to report or link to. But there were a few things, here's a roundup.

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ChrisChris Smithard, JK Champion 2019, Co-ordinator Lockdown Orienteering, 2020.

At Easter 2019, Chris Smithard won the overall JK Individual Trophy with two hours and nine minutes running, by a margin of just seven seconds. Peter Bray was second and Will Gardner third (28 seconds down.)

At Easter 2020 Chris was coordinating an online festival "Lockdown" for 500 international orienteers. It included 12 stages, and a good deal of social media activity including TV discussions and live coverage of the final. A lot of people are learning a lot, not just about online activity linked to orienteering, but also improving their own skills.

"Lockdown Orienteering" has been the most newsworthy of many online activities in the second half of March and all of April as we "locked down" in the UK. Chris co-ordinated a further "sprint-focused" weekend two weeks later, and there will be another "forest-focused" one 8th-10th May (entries close May 5th.)

The final day of traditional orienteering before the shutdown was Sunday March 16th, the day for the qualifying round of the inter-club competition the CompassSport Cup. Many orienteers therefore enjoyed a nice day out with a focus on club and clubmates to take with them into the shutdown; perhaps we can see it as fortuitous timing.

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Happy

We notice the countries that have won most orienteering World Cup medals at the top of the 150+ country list of the UN World Happiness Report 2020.

Orienteering

curves Image: Hoped-for effect of delaying measures

The measures and guidance being announced by the UK Government in response to the coronavirus pandemic are shutting down most sport in the UK for the next three months at the least.

Update 17th March: British Orienteering announces all orienteering is suspended.

Update 23rd March: The UK enters lockdown for at least three weeks.

The British Championships, and the JK Festival, have been called off.

The British Long and Relays were to be this coming weekend. They may or may not be rescheduled in the Autumn. The JK Festival was to have been at Easter: it has been cancelled.

British Champs Postponement

JK Cancellation

Government COVID-19 guidance for mass gatherings.

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BirsemoreMapBirsemore Map extract, from MAR Orienteering Club Routegadget

The first races of the UK Elite League for 2020 were hosted in North-east Scotland by MAR Orienteering Club last weekend, the 7th and 8th March. Noticeable was the strong showing by so many Under-23 runners with the Edinburgh University club there in large numbers.

Johnshaven, a coastal village that grew up round a harbour and the fishing industry, a new ISSprOM map by Chris Smithard, was the venue for Saturday's sprint races.

On Sunday the league moved to the forest of Birsemore, a 300m hill next to Aboyne, for longer forest races. Most runners have uploaded their GPS tracks to MAROC's Routegadget, so you can study the routes chosen. And if you like you can replay the races as if from a mass start. This is a particularly good way to appreciate the complex terrain. We think planner Drew Tivendale should be pleased with the first long leg on the black 4-5, with the field, close together up to that point, going for a variety of routes with "varying degrees of success" as they say.

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startThisWayThe British Night Championships were held on Saturday evening in the woods at Hambleden, a shooting estate on the north bank of the Thames near Henley. The estate was the location for two days of the Easter JK festival in 2013 (the middle and the relay),and had not been used since.

The fast hilly woodland proved great for the Night Championships. Our thanks to hosts Thames Valley O.C. who did a very good job. There was quite a buzz in the crowded and warm marquee after the race as the final runners came in, and results were readied for the prizegiving. The organiser was John Dalton, planner was Neville Baker and controller Alan Rosen. Results were posted online through the evening.

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NZmapImage: Lonely Mountain Sprints location (image from the event website)

In this the first year of a sprints only World Orienteering Championship it seems that in January it has been the team's sprinters that have been making the news.

Peter Hodkinson, Jonny Crickmore and Chris Smithard were amongst other internationals taking part in the Lonely Mountain Sprint Series in New Zealand. There is a great report, with photos and maps, at orienteering NZ.

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Peter Peter Hodkinson has joined IFK Lidingö SOK. Their website announcement and interview.

Peter is over-wintering in Australia. His Attackpoint Training Blog.

Peter joins Hector Haines and Will Gardner at Lidingö where the coach is reigning Forest Relay World Champion Johan Runesson. You can hear Johan as the main interview of episode 14 of the orienteering podcast The Run In.