teamGB2finishes-WorldCup23SprintRelay_RLRachel Brown finishes in the World Cup Sprint Relay in Česká Lípa, photo: Rob Lines

The second race of World Cup Round 2 was an exciting Sprint Relay with 59 teams taking part. Nations could enter up to four teams with the highest placed counting for the World Cup and podium. Team GB1 mispunched on leg 1, and it was left to team GB2 to secure 17th nation place. At the front it was expected to be a close race between the Swedish and Swiss first teams, with an intriguing contest for third and the other podium places. It went like that for a time as Sarah Hagstrom and Simona Aebersold built a sizeable lead on leg 1, and at the end of the second leg Sweden 1 and Switzerland 1 were just two seconds apart..And over a minute ahead of a group of chasing teams. But then Matthias Kyburz pulled away on leg 3 and gave Elena Roos a good margin for the final leg. So Switzerland won. Sweden 1 were overtaken right at the end by the Czechia 1 team to the delight of the home crowd.

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ralph-street-1-WorldCup23Sprint_RLRalph Street won the World Cup Sprint Race in Česká Lípa, photo: Rob Lines

Česká Lípa in North-East Czechia, close to where the World Champs were held in 2021, is hosting World Cup Round 2. The first race, on Wednesday August 2nd, was an individual sprint and Ralph Street won. He was the fifth last starter, came sixth in last year's World Champs, and has been running fast times in sprint relays in the last few years. Nevertheless his victory was unexpected by the commentators who bravely pick possible winners before a race! It was noted that the win came only a few weeks after the forest World Champs, which Ralph had prioritised in his training.

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OverViewMapCeskaLipaČeská Lípa is the location for World Cup Round 2

Close to where the 2021 World Champs races were, and like then with both sprint and forest races on the programme, Česká Lípa in Czechia hosts World Cup Round 2. It's the third of the four big international competitions in the year. World Cup Round 1 (Norway) and the World Champs (Switzerland) have passed and the European Champs in Sprint (Italy) are ahead in early October.

GB has a team of 14 athletes. Britain has six places for the sprint, middle and long races, and can enter three sprint relay teams. It is expected that most of the athletes will run all the races: Sprint, Sprint Relay, Middle Distance and Long Distance.

IOF Eventor - World Cup Round 2

There are accompanying spectator races under the label Kwak Czech O-Tour.

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joshua-dudley-WOC23RelayJoshua Dudley running Leg 2 for GBR completes the final loop at the WOC23 Men's Relay

The favourite teams in the World Champs Relays, Switzerland in the Men's Race, and Sweden in the Women's, both had clear wins. So Daniel Hubmann did become the oldest ever World Champion (and no, he has not retired.) There were no big surprises. Both British teams finished lower in the results than they had hoped. In the men's race, run first, GBR were aiming for top-10 and were 17th (6 minutes off 10th). In the women's race GBR were aiming for top-6 and were eighth (3 minutes off a close tussle for 5th/6th.)

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grace-molloy-ctl3-WOC23MFGrace Molloy at Control 3 in the World Champs Middle Distance Race

The World Champs Middle Races in Switzerland were as expected incredibly technical, and hot weather and the tough forest took its toll on the athletes. Being over 1000m above sea level may not have helped either. Many top runners made mistakes, and some very big ones very early in the race. And in both races there was a clear winner as the defending champions mastered the navigation at their race speed.

The highest placed British runner was Megan Carter-Davies, 12th. She was however disappointed with errors at controls 6 and then at 18, right at the end. Grace Molloy was 28th, Ralph Street was 29th, and Alastair Thomas was 34th. All of them lost time at places on the course, as did most of the runners.

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WOC23LongSteep terrain for the World Champs long races (the sight looking from control 8 on the women's course)

The World Champs Long Races in Switzerland lived up to expectations with very challenging physical courses, difficult route choices and superb performances by several athletes.

The highlight for the British team was Megan Carter-Davies's seventh place, an exceptionally good result, and close behind the bronze medallist. The other British athletes had sound races. Cecilie Andersen and Jo Shepherd were 30th and 31st respectively. Peter Bray and Joshua Dudley were 37th and 39th respectively.

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megan-carter-davies-WOC23MQ-LasseGronMegan Carter-Davies runs in at the World Champs 2023 Middle Qualification, photo: Lasse Gron

It was six heats: three for men, three for women, with the first 15 in each to qualify by right (some runners from countries who would otherwise not have representation in the final also qualify.)

As regards the strongest countries it all went much to plan. Very technical terrain and good preparation were perhaps the main reasons.

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GBR_WOC23GB Official Team Photo, from Ralph Street Instagram

This year's World Champs racing starts on Wednesday 12th July. The GB athletes and nearly all the other athletes have gathered in the Swiss mountains, and everyone gets their picture taken.

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Capri2_at_WOC2022Capri, the World Champs 2023 Mascot, on stage at the World Champs 2022

World Champs 2024 Selection (Test) Races, 3rd, 4th, 6th June.

Flims Laax, best known as a ski resort, hosts the Orienteering World Champs in July. The Champs are being held in conjunction with the Swiss-O Week.

Switzerland has a well-earned reputation for organising orienteering. This encompasses major international competitions of the sort we report, but also mass participation festivals. This year the 6-day Swiss-O week starts the same day as the WOC Relay on July 16th and runs to the 22nd. It has already hit the day 3 capacity of 4000 runners: the capacity of the Mountain Railway!

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Nathan_Will_OD_NIrelandWill Gardner (L), Nathan Lawson (R), of Octavian Droobers (OD) after the Sprint Race in Armagh where they were 2nd and 1st respectively (photo: OD Twitter)

The 10 Day Emerald Isle Orienteering Festival culminated in the British Sprint Champs on Saturday 6th May, and the British Middle Distance Champs on Sunday 7th. The sprints were a qualifier and final pair of races, held in Armagh. The middles were at Drumkeeragh Forest, just inside the Mourne Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Thanks to the clubs of the Northern Ireland Orienteering Association, and indeed all the volunteers who put on the extensive programme of events.

Nathan Lawson won both men's titles, and Fiona Bunn, returned from international duty the previous weekend, won both Women's.

Full Results - British Sprint and Middle Champs

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chris-smithard-2023WCupNorway-relayChris Smithard, World Cup Relay, April 2023

The final races of The World Cup Round in Østfold, Norway were forest relays. On Sunday April 30th the men started at 1pm, the women at 3pm. It was a grand occasion as the sun shone, and the arena was laid out to bring the athletes close to the crowd, most of whom had run their own races (finishing in the arena) in the morning. The changeover and an arena passage were right next to the crowds, and with quarantine only closing 15 minutes before first start many of the national team athletes mingled with the crowd in the arena. The relays were close, exciting races, with both having several teams close together throughout, and there was a particularly spectacular sprint finish in the men's race.

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