Chloe Potter, first leg for South Yorkshire "Killer Bees" team, British Sprint Relays 2023, Brunel University London, photo: Rob Lines
There have been two important sprint format competitions in the UK this September. One was the gathering of top domestic and international runners for Sprint Scotland on the first weekend, and the other was a British Championships two weeks later. In between a 14-runner GB team for next month's sprint formats European Champs was announced.
Peter Molloy, running in 2023 World Cup Round 2, photo: Rob Lines
As summer ends and Autumn begins GB orienteering attention is very much on the sprint formats. Our article Stepping to Edinburgh noted the next steps after World Cup Round 2 being the Antwerp Sprint Meeting in Ghent in mid-August and Sprint Scotland the first weekend in September. Both include knockout sprints.
Grace Molloy, photo: Jiri Cech, Český svaz orientačních sportů
After the Sprint and Sprint Relay the World Cup Round in Czechia switched to the forest. On Saturday 5th August it was a Middle Distance, and on Sunday 6th August a Long Distance. These were the last forest races in the World Cup until after next year's Sprint World Championships in Edinburgh. The next 10 international races, four competition rounds, at World Cup / World Champs level, are in Sprint of one sort or another.
In general in the forest the GB athletes had quite good technical races, but the physicality of the courses did not suit them. Almost all the running required climb or descent (and often both) or contouring on often steep slopes.
Rachel 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.
Ralph 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.
Česká 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.
There are accompanying spectator races under the label Kwak Czech O-Tour.
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...
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 Bray, running in after 17.8km and 480m climb, photo: Wendy Carlyle
The new British Champions are Peter Taylor-Bray and Julie Emmerson.who took the wins in the open classes at the British Long Champs on Saturday 25th March 2023.
The races were in rolling mixed woodland at Cold Ash in Berkshire, as used for the JK2019 Long Race.
The day afterwards, the British Relay races were held at Hambleden Woods near Henley-on-Thames. The premier class relays were won by the Coventry club Octavian Droobers (men) and Edinburgh University (women).Continue reading...
Duncan Birtwistle leads off the Men's Open at the Icenian Sprints UK Elite League Race, photo:Dik Ng
March is here and with it the British Championships, Long and Relay weekend. The Long is at Cold Ash, venue for the JK Long Race in 2013 (Matt Speake, Cat Taylor quickest) and 2019 (Chris Smithard, Megan Carter-Davies quickest.) The relays are at Hambleden, venue for the British Nights 2020 on the eve of the pandemic, and the JK Middle Race in 2013.Continue reading...
Graham Gristwood was the highest placed GB runner at last Autumn's World Cup Final Middle race in Switzerland, photo: Christian Aebersold
Experience counts for a lot in orienteering. That was very evident in last year's results from the GB team.
We look forward to four major international foot-O meetings in 2023, and five in 2024, the latter including the Home World Championships in Edinburgh. The tremendous GB success at last year's sprint World Champs is evidence of real strength in the team. And this year there's an almost entirely unchanged group of athletes, with a great deal of experience amongst the older runners. One of the challenges for management and coaches is the differing needs of athletes. The many experienced athletes know what works for them, and they'll be the ones aiming at the target results (top 20, top 10, podium, medal.)
Fiona Bunn finishes the long race in a "new best time", photo: On The Red Line
The 2022 international season finished with three forest races in Switzerland on 1st-3rd October. It was Round 3, the final one, of the World Cup for 2022. Saturday was relays, Sunday was middle distance, and Monday was the long races. They were on the steep slopes of alpine valleys in the east of Switzerland, with two of the starts reached by cable car.
The international racing was well attended, with over a hundred runners in each individual race. This was partly because next year's World Championships will be held a little to the west, in Flims Laax, in July and there were training camps running after the competition.
At the same arenas there were public races on Saturday and Sunday too so there were plenty of crowds. As ever, the Swiss team were well prepared for races on home terrain.