Capri, the World Champs 2023 Mascot, on stage at the World Champs 2022
The sprint racing that has filled the international calendar so far this year is done. This week it's the second round of the 2022 World Cup, the European Championships. All races are in tough forest in Estonia: long (classic), middle and relay races.
Fourteen athletes are in the British Team, seven women and seven men. It's a larger and also much less experienced team than went to the (Sprint) World Championships in Denmark in June.
Congratulations to Rachel Brown, Chloe Potter, Peter Molloy and Joe Woodley who make World Cup debuts. Rachel and Peter are W/M20.
Of the eight athletes who went to Denmark, Megan Carter-Davies, Grace Molloy and Ralph Street are in the team.
Megan, Ralph and Jo Shepherd ran in the World Champs in Estonia in 2017. Jo was an excellent 18th in the middle. Ralph was 18th in the long, 37th in the middle and ran the sprint relay (team 6th) and forest relay (team 15th.). Megan ran the sprint, and first leg of the forest relay, the team coming 7th.
Cecilie Andersen, one of four athletes who went to the World Games in Alabama, represents a middle level of experience having run several previous World Cups. On The Red Line thinks the forests of a Baltic state may be a new experience for her.
Those with a handful of previous World Cup races are Fiona Bunn, Sasha Chepelin, Joshua Dudley, Ben Mitchell, and Peter Taylor-Bray. Peter raced the World Champs Middle last year. Sasha raced three World Cup rounds pre-COVID. During COVID, amongst a variety of other running, he set a record for the most Munros in 24 hours (since exceeded by someone else.) He returned to orienteering with great results at this year's JK but then had to drop out of the team for this year's World Cup Round 1. Will Gardner, another runner who did well in domestic races in the Spring, was selected for this team but has had to drop out.
The orienteering is near Rakvere, in Estonia.
Estonia is is about the same size as Denmark (i.e. twice the size of Wales) with a quarter of Denmark's population: it has nearly one and a half million people, of whom a third live in the capital Tallinn. Roughly two-thirds of its people have Estonian (related to Finnish) as their first language. Most of the rest have Russian as their first language. It has low elevation and lots of islands.
Estonia has hosted several major orienteering events, including the World Champs in 2017.
The terrain summary from the Bulletin indicates a tough challenge both navigationally and physically:
The terrain has many typical moraine features (eskers, kames, drumlins). The height difference on the terrain is around 30 metres and 20 metres on one slope. There are many hillocks and depressions with depths and heights up to 10 metres.
The vegetation is very varied, but most of the terrain is covered by forest. There are a lot of areas with self-sown undergrowth and high grass. Old logging areas can be overgrown. Runnability varies from the spruce forest with good runnability to overgrown logging areas, areas with storm-felled trees and a lot of areas with undergrowth, which all have poor runnability. Visibility varies from good to poor. A regular pattern of forest rides covers the terrain and there are some small roads and tracks.
There are prolific quantities of flying insects.
Bulletin-3 is a full summary of what's going on There is also a Bulletin-4 with more detail, mainly relevant to the runners.
It is the same arena for all races.
The long races are 12.9km/225m (women) and 17.3km/275m (men) with 4 and 6 refreshment points respectively.
The middle qualifiers are 4.2km/50m (women) and 4.7km/65m (men).
The middle finals are 5.3km/90m (women) and 6.3km/100m (men). The first one begins 9:45 UK-time.
The relay legs are 5.5km/50m (women) and 6.5km/60m (men). Note the relays, in a break from recent practice looking to early evening TV, begin at 8am UK-time,
There are 293 athletes entered, with some from non-European nations: Australia have a full team of 12, and Hong Kong China a team of nine. There are very big teams from Denmark (20), Norway (20), Sweden (23) and Switzerland (21).
As usual all the medal races are televised (presumably just the later stages of the long). If you're not in a country where a national broadcaster is carrying the Championships, such as for example the UK, then the internet service Live Orienteering is what you need. It's 12 Euros for all three broadcasts.
Before, during and after the races the On The Red Line Twitter feed will occasionally chip in from a GB point of view. The bulletin says the social media hashtag is #eoc2022
Image of Rakvere Castle from Bulletin-4
These races were originally envisaged for 2020, but then COVID came. They are the first forest-only European Champs since the new system of alternating forest and sprint.
The previous European Champs were all disciplines back in May 2018, hosted by Switzerland. Medals went to the traditional "big four" nations except Natalia Gemperle of Russia took silver in the women's long (behind Tove Alexandersson) and Gernot Ymsen (then Kerschbaumer) of Austria bronze in the men's long (behind Olav Lundanes and Matthias Kyburz).
Only three of the 2022 GB team ran then: Jo, Ralph and Sasha. Megan was in her final year at University. Cat Taylor did well with 5th in the middle and 18th in the long. On the men's side best results were Hector Haines 28th and Alan Cherry 29th in the long, and Ralph Street 31st in the middle. The leading GB relay teams were 6th (men - Kris Jones / Peter Hodkinson / Ralph Street) and 11th (women - Jess Halliday, Cat Taylor, Hollie Orr.)
We remarked on the selection for World Cup Round 1 this year, which was sprint racing, that the team included fewer overseas based athletes and fewer alumni of the Scottish junior programmes than was often the case. Both of those have reverted to a more usual pattern with the team this time: Jo and Joshua are based in Scandinavia, they are both Scots, as are Sasha, Rachel and Peter.
Only four of the team have top-100 forest world rankings: Megan, Jo, Grace and Ralph. All four have at some time gotten top-20s at a World Champs: one of the outstanding forest results of recent years being Megan coming 6th in last year's WOC long. Four of the athletes (not quite matching the debutants) don't yet have the five scores that can be counted for World Ranking position. I guess they will start early on Thursday in the long and their World Ranking should certainly go up if they manage to finish!
Please click on a name to display more information about an athlete. We don't yet have our own page (which would have links to external pages) for all athletes, and where we don't have one yet it is either the British Orienteering GB Squad Athlete page, or the record of results in Major British Races maintained by Maprunner - usually showing a lot of single digit results!
All of those making a World Cup debut have been to a Junior World Champs (JWOC). Peter and Rachel went to JWOC this year. As you will know it was not possible to hold the forest races as the forests were closed because of the exceptionally dry and hot weather. Peter also ran in 2019 as a first year M18, coming 43rd in the long. (Because of COVID there was no JWOC in 2020 and no GBR team at JWOC in 2021.) Chloe ran JWOC in 2018, notably anchoring the GB Women's Relay team to 4th. Joe ran the long race at JWOC in 2016: he was ahead of 50 other runners but still outside the top 100.