(Profile photo of Alastair by Fred Hartelt at the World Champs 2021)
Alastair started a two year Masters course at the Norwegian Technical University in Trondheim in Autumn 2022. He is running for NTNUI.
Alastair joined the senior squad in 2021, his first year as a senior. In 2022 he is a member...Continue reading...
Grace 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.Continue reading...
Megan 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.Continue reading...
One of this year's trophies, from the World Championships Bulletin-4
On Wednesday 12th July the racing in the 2023 World Champs (WOC) begins. The Champs are at Flims-Laax in the mountain canton of Graubünden in Switzerland. The competition will be top-notch and the scenery will be stunning.Continue reading...
Chris 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.Continue reading...
Chloe Potter on the start line
The second race of the 2023 World Cup was a middle distance. It was expected that the men's race could be won by any of a dozen runners and the women's race would be won by Tove Alexandersson, the current World Cup champion. Tove won the long race on Thursday and has been the outstanding athlete in this type of race for some years. Compared to those expectations both results were a surprise.
Tove Alexandersson only came second as her compatriot Sara Hagstrom ended 10 seconds ahead in the 35 minute race. It was very exciting. Tove was 5 seconds quicker at the penultimate control, less than a minute from the finish. At the same time Sara Hagstrom was being interviewed as the big screen showed drone and fixed camera footage of Tove coming through the last control and dashing over the line, as the seconds ticked down.Continue reading...
A TV interview at the first race of the 2023 World Cup in Norway
The first race of the 2023 World Cup was a long (target winning times: 82 minutes women, 90 minutes men.) It was expected that Scandinavian runners would be the strongest in the Nordic terrain and so it proved.
In the women's race Tove Alexandersson (82:07) and Sara Hagstrom (83:02) of Sweden were one-two, with Marie Olaussen of Norway taking third place. Full Results.
In the men's race Kasper Fosser (88:06) of Norway finished 3 seconds and 9 seconds respectively ahead of the Swedes Emil Svensk and Martin Regborn. It was very, very close. Full ResultsContinue reading...
Peter Molloy in the Jura forest, image: from the TV broadcast
The World University Orienteering Champs took place in Switzerland last week. It was a big competition with teams from thirty countries and races on all the five days from Wednesday to Sunday. The age range for runners is now 18-25 (the upper limit used to be 28) and it provides a useful way for younger athletes to have international competition between the junior events (although many of the athletes are still juniors) and the World Cup.
Great Britain was represented by a full team of twelve athletes. There was a mix of results, as you would expect at this level, with some of the team taking the chance to record strong performances.
The WOC2023 Mascot, Capri, photo: copyright steineggerpix.com + woc 2023, by Thomi Studhalter
It was to Swiss mountain forests of the Flims-Laax valley for the World Orienteering Championships 2023. The courses were both as physical and technical as expected and the races threw few surprises in the medallists:.Tove Alexandersson and Matthias Kyburz both won two golds and a silver. They lost out in the long to the golden couple of Simona Aebersold and Kasper Fosser. The weather was heavy at times, but did not get as bad as two different days the next week, when the 5000 runner Swiss-O week cancelled races up the mountains because of dangerous storms.
Part of the terrain for this year's JK Middle Race (mapper squad member Ben Mitchell)
The "JK", the biggest annual festival in the UK orienteering calendar, held every year at Easter, is back and upon us. We really missed it in 2020 and 2021. This year the Welsh Association are hosting, and some of the areas used are the same as in 2014 when they previously hosted.. How's the winter training gone? Have you got everything planned out and have you read through 37 pages of programme? How did you fare on your big weekends in the Winter and early Spring?Continue reading...
the 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.Continue reading...
a 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.Continue reading...
Women'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.
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 KingContinue reading...
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.Continue reading...
Peter 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.Continue reading...
"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.Continue reading...
photo from Competition Bulletin 3
The Nokian Tyres World Orienteering Championships 2021 take place from Saturday 3rd to Friday 9th July. The host town is Doksy, a summer vacation resort in the Liberec region of the Czech Republic / Czechia. The Sprint Relay is in Doksy. The individual sprint is in/around an internationally known eighteenth century fortress. The forest races are in two types of distinctive terrain: the middle on steep bouldery slopes with plenty of thick vegetation, the long and relay in the sandstone where the best route can often be a long way from the straight line.
The previous championships, in 2019, were in Norway and were in the forest disciplines. The last time the sprint disciplines were contested in a World Championship was in Latvia in 2018.
The first entry in the competition programme is that there is no O-training on Thursday July 1st - because it's the main COVID testing for entry to the "WOC Bubble". These are the times we live in, and our first thought is gratitude to the Czech organisers, for running the World Champs, a huge task of itself, but even more this year in the significant shadow of a storm of COVID regulations. Thanks to them too for adding Sprint and Sprint Relay races to the original forest championships.
All finals will be televised. In Britain the broadcasts will as usual be a paid-for service on the internet (6 Euro per broadcast or 20 Euro for all five.) IOF Web TV Broadcast Schedule.Continue reading...
Ralph Street in a WOC Test Race, credit Petr Kadeřávek
The World Championships (WOC) in Czechia begin with Sprint Qualifications and Final on Saturday 3rd July.
The Great Britain Team has been selected. The team includes six women and seven men, and includes five athletes making their WOC debut. As the other eight all have at least three previous WOCs, it is an easy description that the team combines a lot of experience with the several newcomers.
Many congratulations from On The Red Line to the whole team and especially the WOC debutants: Alastair Thomas, Cecilie Andersen, Grace Molloy, Nathan Lawson and Peter Bray. Alastair and Grace are first year seniors. Nathan is not (yet) a member of the squad.Continue reading...
Virtual Control Site, 2020
When can it all get back to how it was before? Who knows, maybe it can't, so here's a summary of the the status of the British squad, and international and big domestic competitions.
Can we be optimistic? We said that the 2020 season ended not soon after it started, which was true in a general sense as little of the season happened as originally planned. In gloomy moments we wonder if this year the season will start before it ends? Perhaps cautious optimism is appropriate. Maybe things won't be quite as they were before but they will still be good, later in the year.Continue reading...
Alastair 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.Continue reading...
Graham Gristwood and Peter Hodkinson at the last control (On the Red Line)
The World Ranking Middle Distance World Ranking Races at Dundur on Day 3 of this year's Scottish 6-Days Orienteering were won by Graham Gristwood and Cat Taylor. Graham was the final starter of 68 and caught two minutes on the penultimate starter Peter Hodkinson at control 17; they ran the last part of the course together for positions 1 and 2. Alastair Thomas, still an M20, ran very well to take third. Second behind Cat was the Norway-based New Zealander Lizzie Ingham, and Fay Walsh was third.