ChrisChris 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.

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Happy

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.

Orienteering

curves 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.

British Champs Postponement

JK Cancellation

Government COVID-19 guidance for mass gatherings.

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BirsemoreMapBirsemore 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.

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startThisWayThe 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.

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NZmapImage: 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.

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Peter Peter Hodkinson has joined IFK Lidingö SOK. Their website announcement and interview.

Peter is over-wintering in Australia. His Attackpoint Training Blog.

Peter joins Hector Haines and Will Gardner at Lidingö where the coach is reigning Forest Relay World Champion Johan Runesson. You can hear Johan as the main interview of episode 14 of the orienteering podcast The Run In.

cwstartCharlotte Ward starts (from the IOF Web-TV)

World Cup Sprint race - Tuesday 29th October 2019 - Songtang Village


Update - Results

"Perfect sprint orienteering terrain" said Jonas Merz on the commentary. The races were close. The narrow, and sometimes very narrow, alleys are not something that many of the athletes have experience with. Exceptions might be men's winner Yannick Michiels who has done quite a lot of races in China with Park World Tour, and of course the home team athletes.

It was the most consistent runners who took the wins. Yannick Michiels only had one fastest leg, and Shuangyan Hao only three. Women's runner-up Simona Aebersold was close to the win - she lost more than the winning margin on leg 14-15. And Tove Alexandersson lost more than the winning margin on leg 2-3.

  • Men - 1.Yannick Michiels; 2.Maxime Rauturier; 3. Li ZhuoYe.
  • Women- 1.Shuangyan Hao; 2.Simona Aebersold; Sara Hagstrom.

Full Results on Eventor

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charlotte-kirstinCharlotte Ward and Kirstin Maxwell. credit: Hello 5G.

Sunday 27th October 2019 - Nanhai Movie and TV Town

The Sprint Relay of the China World Cup Round took place at 06:45 UK-time. The venue was:

An extremely scenic location of an open-air film studio complex with numerous replica townscapes and temples, combining the landscape of a city park and suburban park with strong cultural atmosphere. There is both planted and natural vegetation, with some small areas of open forest depending on route choice. Very good runnability.

There were five teams in contention at the start of the last leg, three of them Swedish. Handling the complex navigation well and running strongly it was Elena Roos of Switzerland who took the victory. The Swedish second team, with Sara Hagstrom, were second, and Norway with Andrine Benjaminsen were third.

The Great Britain team of Charlotte Ward, Peter Hodkinson, Ralph Street and Cecilie Andersen, were 13th, eighth nation.

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XQpartial screenshot from the web TV broadcast

A really impressive run at Xiqiao Mountain by today's final starter Gustav Bergman won the race and the men's 2019 World Cup. His compatriot Tove Alexandersson won the women's race, making 7 out of 7 wins this year.

As expected, it was very tough going in part: it was hot and humid, it was often steep, it was sometimes forest "jungle", and there was a lot of detail not all of which can be shown on the map. Runners had to choose and identify the best, but sometimes a little indistinct, tracks. Gustav said in a post-race interview losing a little time here and there was inevitable. And winning times were on the long side.

There was good TV coverage of the racing in the English language web broadcast. The now usual fixed and running cameras provided great pictures and GPS tracking helping analysis of the route choice legs.

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