BOC22_mapclipfrom British Orienteering website, image: mapper Dave Peel.

With the weather set fair, the British Long Distance Champs are on Saturday March 26th, using an area new to orienteering south-west of London. There's a strong field including 59 names on the M21E startlist. The course is 16.6km with 815m climb; with the recommended winning time of 90-100 minutes. There are 18 entries on W21E for 11.3km with 495m climb and a winning time of 70-80 minutes.

The British Relays are the following day, using the same arena.

The British NIghts and the British Middles have taken place, the former in the very opposite of fair weather.

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CansiglioMenMiddleStartthe start of the men's middle in the Cansiglio forest, October 2021

The Final Round of the 2021 World Cup took place at Cansiglio–Cortina d'Ampezzo in north-east Italy from 30th September to 3rd October.

The long race on Thursday 30th September and the middle on Saturday 2nd October were in runnable beech forest on high Karst terrain. These decided the individual World Cup with Kasper Fosser and Tove Alexandersson both winning both days and becoming the World Cup Winners 2021.

There was a thrilling sprint relay in Cortina d'Ampezzo on Sunday 3rd, with four nations including GB starting their last leg runners at the front within a few seconds of each other. It was like a double length knockout sprint. At the end Andrine Benjaminsen stormed in to win for Norway, the first time an international sprint relay was not won by either Sweden or Switzerland. GB were fourth nation. Sweden won the team World Cup.

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Archeton-mapclipa training area, the Archeton - Valmanera map used for Italian Middle Champs March 2021

The Final Round of the 2021 World Cup takes place at Cansiglio–Cortina d'Ampezzo in north-east Italy from 30th September to 3rd October.

There's a long race on Thursday 30th September, a middle on Saturday 2nd October (same day as the British Long Champs*) and a sprint relay on Sunday 3rd.

*if people can get to Devon despite the petrol supply problems in England

It's the region for the 2026 Winter Olympics, and it should provide a typically scenic finale to the year. The forest races are in beech forest, "Karst terrain with lots of point details; occasionally stony." The sprint relay is "Typical mountain village with detailed historical centre and houses with private and public ownership: 80% asphalt surface, 20% grass and open field."

The long will run for most of the day to a prize-giving at 4:30pm UK-time. There's no TV production but results, arena sound and picture, and GPS from 11am.

The middle and sprint relay do have Internet TV (10 Euros for both) with commentary from Katherine Bett and Jonas Merz. On Saturday it's 11:30-3:30, on Sunday 12:30-1:55.

A full British Team of 12 athletes is entered.

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Idre_WomenRelayPresentationWomen's Relay Presentation, from the IOF Internet TV Broadcast

The World Cup Round 2 at Idre Fjäll in Sweden did a good job of testing the best orienteers and in beautiful wilderness forest. There was a long race on Thursday 12th, a middle on Saturday 14th, and Sunday was forest relays. Running times were often a bit longer than expected.

There were challenges throughout the races, mental, technical and physical. In particular, some of the hardest navigation problems came later in courses, after big climbs or stretches of featureless forest slope, and often where visibillity decreased as spruce supplanted pine. We saw runners get close to controls and not see the kite, so assume that many were set low. Any faster runners who managed an error-free run did well, and amidst many smaller errors there were some big, spectacular and unexpected mistakes from very good orienteers. The surprises made for very exciting spectating on the Internet TV, and unexpected names on the podiums of the middle and relays.

Results of World Cup Round 2 at IOF Eventor.

Britain sent a full team of 14 athletes including six World Cup debutants. Alastair Thomas, Nathan Lawson and Grace Molloy made their senior debuts at the World Champs. It was first time in the senior team for Joshua Dudley, Fiona Bunn and Laura King

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previousMapIdre4

The World Cup Round 2 at Idre Fjäll in Sweden has races on Thursday 12th (long), Saturday 14th (middle) and Sunday 15th August (forest relay.) For all races the terrain is mainly high runnability and high visibility pine forest at 600m-900m, with plenty of contours and marsh, and little else.

Britain is sending a full team of 14 athletes. Six men and six women can run each individual race, and there will be two GB teams in each relay.

All races have internet TV coverage with English commentary.

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MeganMegan Carter-Davies, on her way to 6th in the World Champs long race, July 2021 photo: Fred Haertelt

The World Championships (WOC) reached the Czech sandstone terrain for its final races. Thursday 8th July, late on, it was the Forest Relays. Next day it was the classic (or "long") races. With three minute start intervals and 80 minutes (women) 99 minutes (men) target winning times, the event goes on a long while. There wasn't therefore much gap between the relays and the classic races.

Six British athletes took part these two days. On Thursday the British women, Grace Molloy, Jo Shepherd and Megan Carter-Davies, ran well for 7th. The men, Peter Hodkinson, Hector Haines and Ralph Street, were 15th. All of them have had at least one top-6 in this event before, so we think it is fair to call that result disappointing.

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Varsity2011Sandstone Terrain

This picture is from a World of O "Route to Christmas" post nearly ten years ago. The popular advent calendar-like series invites readers to first think about their own route, and then to see what others thought and what happened when runners tackled the problem in a race. This problem is in Czech sandstone terrain. It has particular memories for one of the British team, as they ran it in the 2011 Orienteering Varsity Match (a sporting contest between teams from Cambridge and Oxford Universities.)

The need to choose your own route is a key characteristic of orienteering. This is an example of decisions athletes will take in the World Championships (WOC) on Thursday 8th July and Friday 9th. Thursday it's the forest relays. Friday it's the the long (or "classic") races. At last, WOC 2021 reaches, with its final races, some of the most famous orienteering terrain in the World! It's one of the reasons why so many were looking forward for so long to these championships.

The two athletes in the British team who have not yet run make their entrance to the racing. Both live in Scandinavia and are very experienced (both have won the British Long and have run WOC Long several times before).

The World of O "Route to Christmas" visits Czech sandstone terrain. The course was set by the planner of the Sprint Relay, Radek Novotný.

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peter-bray-2-WOC2021-MF_TBPeter Bray in the final, photo: Tomáš Bubela

The World Championships Middle Distance was on Tuesday 6th July in tough mountain terrain in the Jablonec nad Nisou district of northern Czechia. The borders with both Poland and Germany are not far away.

World Championships middle races have a reputation for being held in the toughest of forests, the sort that rips numbers off backs and means runners finish showing blood. In warm, humid weather the extremely challenging navigation on courses running longer than recommended provided a full-on experience. In the men's race particularly many of the leading runners picked up runners starting in front of them (there was a 2 minute interval) and had company for many controls, which could help them both.

The athletes have certainly earned a rest day before Thursday's forest relays.

In the morning qualification four British athletes qualified for the finals later in the day: Cat Taylor, Megan Carter-Davies, Peter Bray and Ralph Street. Alastair Thomas, who drew the earliest possible start came 16th in his heat (with 15 to qualify). Grace Molloy was 20th in her heat.

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woc2021-sprint-relay-mapclipMap section, showing the gaffling style and use of artificial barriers

The World Championships (WOC) Sprint Relay took place in the early evening of Sunday 4th July in the host town Doksy.

Recognising that the town is "not particularly complicated in terms of elite runner navigation" the planning used artificial barriers and plentiful gaffling (British English uses a Swedish word, International English calls it "forking".)

It was a great sight, a picturesque town graced by such athleticism in evening sunshine. Again the TV coverage was great. In the race Sweden won gold without making it close. Tove Alexandersson ran from the front, and established a lead on the first leg, with only Switzerland close (3rd was 38 seconds behind Simona Aebersold). And then, with the exception of a measured start on leg 2 by Emil Svensk matched with a very fast start from Joey Hadorn for Switzerland meaning they hit one control together, the Swedish runners ran alone. Gustav Bergman extended the lead on leg 3 and anchor leg Sarah Hagstrom had plenty of time to celebrate with her team on the run-in.

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TrainingCzechia1"Relevant terrain" - a training area

The World Championships Middle Distance races are on Tuesday 6th July.

They are at Jizerské hory. It's tough mountain terrain with plenty of high cliffs, broken ground, and marsh at altitude 530 - 83om. The racing is on steep slopes with granite boulders and cliffs, and variable visibility. Runnability is also variable, from very good in mature beech forest, to significantly limited by the steepness of the slopes covered in uneven rocks, in some parts with fallen trees, high blueberries and thickets too.

The qualification races are from 8am UK-time. The final begins at 2:50pm (men start), with the TV broadcast starting at 3:20pm, ending about 7pm. The first 15 in each of three heats qualify for the final, plus some lower placed runners where they are the highest placed finisher from their country. British runners will assume they need to be in the first 15 of their heat to make the final.

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alice-leake1-spf_LukasBudinskyAlice Leake on her way to "4th in the World". photo: Lukáš Budínský.

The World Championships (WOC) in Czechia began with the Individual Sprint races on Saturday 3rd July. Morning qualification was followed by afternoon finals.

The racing was at Terezín, which was a great setting. It's an eighteenth century fortress, comprising a citadel and a walled garrison town by the Ohře river just south of where it joins the Elbe. It's multi-level and the planners cleverly used artificial barriers to set some intriguing problems for the athletes. The TV broadcast was very well done. It was compelling viewing, showcasing the top-level of the sport at its best through great filming with smart graphics, GPS tracking and astute and well-informed commentary.

The finals, with the men going first, used very similar courses. The wins were not similar though. In the men's race many of the runners ran quickly enough to take the win, and it was the route choices and ability to reduce hesitations that made the difference. Isac von Krusenstierne who was ranked just outside the World's Top 50 beforehand, and who had been 13th in his heat (with 15 to qualify), handled things best and took the win. In the women's race Tove Alexandersson's speed was unmatched by anyone, so much so that a 30 second error (possibly partly the result of artificial barriers towards the end of a long leg) was not enough to stop her taking gold.

Five of the British runners (photos of all six below) qualified for the finals, Cecilie Andersen missing out.

Alice Leake achieved an outstanding 4th=, a mere 4 seconds off the medals. Grace Molloy in her first senior race, was 12th, saying it couldn't have gone much better. Peter Hodkinson was 14th, Chris Smithard 24th and Nathan Lawson, also debuting for the senior team, was 25th.

Official Results

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