It’s all Paul and Sarah’s fault. Paul and I met in London Orienteering Klubb in the mid 80s. We were both something in computing, just like nearly everybody else in LOK at that time. Two of those who weren't something in computing were Sarah Brown and Helen Teece. Readers, we married them. That's Helen in the middle of the rather overdressed GB Men's Team at WOC 2015 in the picture.
I now find myself trying to write something suitable for the OTRL launch after a not so gentle hint from Paul that he has kept a space for me. Four hours to go and still no real idea what to write. Anyway: here goes.
Let’s have a short run through how we got here. My involvement started in October 2017 when an email arrived from Sarah entitled “Senior Orienteering squad”. It turns out I managed to ignore this, but some gentle prompting from Paul ended up with a meeting in the café in the park at the finish of the Southampton City Race in November. We all went away thinking something was possible but not knowing what. There was another car park meeting at Ash Ranges in December where I volunteered to have a go at putting something together over Christmas, whilst Paul and Sarah volunteered to dream up a name for it. January saw the first mention of “On The Red Line” in an email from Sarah, and I started feeling guilty enough to try and get something working. By the end of February I had set up the skeleton of the site and left it to Paul to start generating content.
And then over the past three weeks things got really serious. A meeting at the CompassSport Cup event at Balcombe decided that everything was on track to launch before the JK and we settled down to resolving the big questions like “what should go on the front page” and the bigger questions like “what exact shade of red do we want to use”. I registered the domain name which meant that Paul could order the promotional pens and be confident they had the correct web address on them (apparently he’s been bitten by this before). Sarah engaged her army of contacts to provide content and act as guinea pigs. We put a password on the site and sent it to a carefully selected and growing band of testers. This was probably a little over the top since the chances of finding the site by accident were pretty small, but “otrl-preview” would have got you in should you have stumbled upon it. Paul is all set to remove the password at some point later tonight and then a carefully orchestrated publicity campaign will swing into action. After that, who knows?
The site is going to cover top-level orienteering and try to give you an insight into what goes on. I have a long history of following Team GB around the world and I can thoroughly recommend getting out there to cheer on the team and get to know some of them. To give you a flavour of what you might end up reading about on OTRL there’s a Maprunner blog. This started in 2006 and tends to be updated in brief spurts around WOCs. You could start with a brief canter through recent GB WOC history, or go for a more typical statistics-biased recent article on why GB medals are to be celebrated. The Maprunner site has a lot of other things on it, including the inside story of Yvette's first GB WOC medal in 1993, and even a sample of Paul's previous literary output telling what happens when mortals get to race the squad.
If you read through the various blog entries you'll discover that working out who had done what at World Championships was quite difficult. As a result I ended up producing the Maprunner WOC Database that initially had all WOC results in it, and now includes JWOC as well. Can you name the eleven runners who between them have won 11 GB WOC medals? There's also Arbor, the Archive of British Orienteering Records that includes mortals as well as the superstars. Don't miss the "Fight" function where you can find out how you are doing against your nearest rivals in all the big races. For example it turns out that Hector holds a 12:10 lead over Ralph going back to the days of M14A at JK 2003.
We interrupt this article to bring you an urgent message. Three hours to launch and Paul is on the phone saying the athlete profiles are broken and he'd only done a tiny little change and it wasn't his fault honest. Luckily I can sort it out pretty quickly and the countdown restarts. But that gives me a good excuse to stop for now. Publish and be damned. On The Red Line is open for business.