Chris 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.
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.
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.
Birsemore 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.
The 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.
Image: 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.
As Lockdown began there were eight GB athletes in the top 50s of the Sprint World Rankings
The pandemic has made clear there are important things bigger than any sport. Health, wellbeing, work, travel, weddings, family visits. Gosh, it even stopped professional football and reduced how much it was in the news.
Those for whom orienteering is a big recreational interest felt quite a sense of loss, as planned outings and trips were cancelled, and events didn't happen.
And so midsummer 2020 passes with no Jukola. There were no events in the spring. The 2020 international orienteering programme has been lost to the pandemic.
The cancellation of the international programme was particularly hard on the top international sprint-focused orienteers, as they had "waited" through 2019, a year with no World or European Champs in the sprint disciplines. And with the pandemic, with another cancellation for 2021, none were scheduled for 2020 or 2021 either.
Several GB squad athletes were in this position. They are mainly focused on the format and they were on track to be at the top of their game this year.
The recent news about next year's international programme, namely that (fingers crossed) there will be major international sprint orienteering at European and World level, is therefore very good.
Fiona Bunn is one of five newcomers to the GB Senior Squad. Credit: JWOC2019 Denmark.
The GB 2020 Senior Squad was announced at the end of January, news somewhat buried by the departure of the UK from the European Union on the same day.
On The Red Line We add our congratulations to the newcomers, and we thank those leaving for their contribution in previous years.
There are 24 athletes. 18 are based in the UK and six in Scandinavia. 15 of them have run at a World Championships. Coincidentally, 24 was also the size of the initial squads announced for 2018 and 2019.
It is an achievement to be invited to join. It brings cachet. It doesn't of itself bring any financial benefit though; there is no official squad training, and it is not referenced in the selection policy. Membership may help provide evidence on the policy's additional criteria, such as commitment to a positive team environment, but it is not the only way to do that. The GB international teams can and often do select non-squad athletes. Graham Gristwood ran the long at last year's World Championships.
New to the squad this year are Adam Potter (Bristol O.K.), Ben Mitchell (Swansea Bay O.C.), Cecilie Andersen (Bristol O.K.) and Sarah Jones (Edinburgh Southern O.C.), all relatively young runners who ran in the later rounds of last year's World Cup. Another newcomer is first year senior Fiona Bunn (Thames Valley O.C.), who won two medals at last year's Junior World Championships (JWOC).
Picture: Last year's GB World Cup Team
COVID-19 As you can imagine this was written before the introduction of the extensive social distancing measures introduced as a response to the spread of the virus causing COVID-19. Many of the events described will be cancelled.
In 2020 it is the first Sprint Orienteering World Championships, with Sprint Relay, Individual Sprint and the new Knockout Sprint. Denmark host, from 6th - 11th July, with the racing in Kolding, Fredericia and Vejle.
The European Championships are hosted by Estonia centred on Rakvere, and are the week of 6th - 23rd August. They include Middle, Long and Forest Relay.
The World Champs are not included in this year's World Cup, the European Champs are (as Round 2). There are two other rounds: Switzerland 20th - 24th May is Round 1, and Italy 1st - 6th October is the World Cup Final.
The Junior World Champs are in Turkey from 28th June - 5th July.
All are accompanied by open races, providing an opportunity for spectating orienteers to take a full-on experience of running and following the international racing.
Here's a summary of six British Championships of 2019.
Photo: Rob Lines
Organised by Mar Orienteering Club at Muir of Dinnet on Saturday 23rd February.
The 2019 Nokian Tyres World Orienteering Championships (WOC) took place in Østfold, Norway from 13th - 17th August. Østfold is the county of the south-east part of Norway, between Oslo and Sweden. The event centre was the city of Sarpsborg. The Championships were very well organised, and the accompanying spectator races were also well attended.
The nine athletes of the Great Britain Team for the 2019 World Champs. Credits: Matt Speake by Karl Orud, Jo Shepherd by WOC2018 Latvia, Charlotte Watson and Megan Carter-Davies by South London Orienteers (from the "Get up to Speed" videos), others by On The Red Line.
It was a forest only World Championships. All three finals, long, middle and relay, were held from a specially constructed arena at Mørk Golf Club, in the middle of the previously unmapped forest. Long and middle used an arena start, and all courses had an arena passage.
Great Britain took a team of nine athletes, supported by Team Manager Ed Nicholas, Coach Liz Campbell and Physio Jane Ashbrook. Of the nine, four are based in Britain (two of whom have spent several years in Sweden), four in Norway and one in Sweden. All had run at least two World Champs before.
Full results are in IOF Eventor - WOC2019.
JK2019 Middle Distance Prizewinners, credit: Iain Shepherd
The 2019 took place in central Southern England from April 19th - 22nd.
The weather was exceptionally warm and dry, and everything about the competition was very good, except the results service and timing which were not up to it.
(It's late Tuesday evening now, and "All results are now under review and will be published as soon as they are validated.")
Top three in the Women's Overall enjoying the weather, credit: Iain Shepherd