rocks_britMiddle24_WCMiddle distance races emphasise interpretation of the map in often quite complex terrain, photo:Wendy Carlyle

On Saturday 27th April Airienteers hosted the British Middle Champs at Danefield near Otley in Yorkshire, with some intricate terrain and also fine views across Wharfedale. The Swansea Bay couple Megan Carter-Davies and Ben Mitchell took the open class wins. Megan is no stranger to British titles – she held them all at the same time a few years ago, but it is Ben’s first. He has previously come second four times, at night, middle and long. Ben is the OCAD reseller for the U.K. and an accomplished mapper e.g. JK2022 Clydach Terrace.

Results, British Middle Distance Champs 2024.

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Club: Swansea Bay O.C. Overseas: Rajamäen Rykmentti

From 2024 Ben will run for Halden SK.

Ben has silver medals from British Long and British Night Championships. He ran for GB in Switzerland and China in 2019 World Cup Rounds 3 and 4, and in Idre Fjall in 2021. IOF Record

He is a mapp...

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chris-smithard-2023WCupNorway-relayChris 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.

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chloe-potter-2023WCupNorway-middle-startChloe Potter on the start line

The second race of the 2023 World Cup was a middle distance. It was expected that the men's race could be won by any of a dozen runners and the women's race would be won by Tove Alexandersson, the current World Cup champion. Tove won the long race on Thursday and has been the outstanding athlete in this type of race for some years. Compared to those expectations both results were a surprise.

Tove Alexandersson only came second as her compatriot Sara Hagstrom ended 10 seconds ahead in the 35 minute race. It was very exciting. Tove was 5 seconds quicker at the penultimate control, less than a minute from the finish. At the same time Sara Hagstrom was being interviewed as the big screen showed drone and fixed camera footage of Tove coming through the last control and dashing over the line, as the seconds ticked down.

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TVinterview-2023wcup1-longA 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 Results

Official Results

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CUOC_Icenian_2023_byDikNgDuncan 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.

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graham-gristwood-long031022_red_CAGraham 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.)

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fiona-bunn-wcuplong_20221003Fiona 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.

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ralph-street-middlefinal-eoc2022_cr_FHRalph Street on his way to 13th in the Middle Final, photo: Fred Härtelt

The European Orienteering Championships for 2022 took place in Estonia and were for the forest disciplines. The medal races were the 4th, 6th and 7th August.

Eventor - Orienteering World Cup Round 2 and European Championships 2022

All races used the same arena, in the Põlula forest, near Rakvere, midway between Tallinn and the Russian border. For the previous European Championships, back pre-COVID in 2018 and covering more disciplines GB had a team of 17 including only one runner outside the 25-30 age group. This time Britain took 13 athletes, but it was much more slanted towards development. Our preview article on the team

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Capri2_at_WOC2022Capri, 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.

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ClydachTerrace_mapclip2Part of the terrain for this year's JK Middle Race (mapper squad member Ben Mitchell)

The "JK", the biggest annual festival in the UK orienteering calendar, held every year at Easter, is back and upon us. We really missed it in 2020 and 2021. This year the Welsh Association are hosting, and some of the areas used are the same as in 2014 when they previously hosted.. How's the winter training gone? Have you got everything planned out and have you read through 37 pages of programme? How did you fare on your big weekends in the Winter and early Spring?

Event Programme (Version 6)

Our report on the most recent JK, in 2019.

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CansiglioMenMiddleStartthe start of the men's middle in the Cansiglio forest, October 2021

The Final Round of the 2021 World Cup took place at Cansiglio–Cortina d'Ampezzo in north-east Italy from 30th September to 3rd October.

The long race on Thursday 30th September and the middle on Saturday 2nd October were in runnable beech forest on high Karst terrain. These decided the individual World Cup with Kasper Fosser and Tove Alexandersson both winning both days and becoming the World Cup Winners 2021.

There was a thrilling sprint relay in Cortina d'Ampezzo on Sunday 3rd, with four nations including GB starting their last leg runners at the front within a few seconds of each other. It was like a double length knockout sprint. At the end Andrine Benjaminsen stormed in to win for Norway, the first time an international sprint relay was not won by either Sweden or Switzerland. GB were fourth nation. Sweden won the team World Cup.

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Archeton-mapclipa training area, the Archeton - Valmanera map used for Italian Middle Champs March 2021

The Final Round of the 2021 World Cup takes place at Cansiglio–Cortina d'Ampezzo in north-east Italy from 30th September to 3rd October.

There's a long race on Thursday 30th September, a middle on Saturday 2nd October (same day as the British Long Champs*) and a sprint relay on Sunday 3rd.

*if people can get to Devon despite the petrol supply problems in England

It's the region for the 2026 Winter Olympics, and it should provide a typically scenic finale to the year. The forest races are in beech forest, "Karst terrain with lots of point details; occasionally stony." The sprint relay is "Typical mountain village with detailed historical centre and houses with private and public ownership: 80% asphalt surface, 20% grass and open field."

The long will run for most of the day to a prize-giving at 4:30pm UK-time. There's no TV production but results, arena sound and picture, and GPS from 11am.

The middle and sprint relay do have Internet TV (10 Euros for both) with commentary from Katherine Bett and Jonas Merz. On Saturday it's 11:30-3:30, on Sunday 12:30-1:55.

A full British Team of 12 athletes is entered.

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Idre_WomenRelayPresentationWomen's Relay Presentation, from the IOF Internet TV Broadcast

The World Cup Round 2 at Idre Fjäll in Sweden did a good job of testing the best orienteers and in beautiful wilderness forest. There was a long race on Thursday 12th, a middle on Saturday 14th, and Sunday was forest relays. Running times were often a bit longer than expected.

There were challenges throughout the races, mental, technical and physical. In particular, some of the hardest navigation problems came later in courses, after big climbs or stretches of featureless forest slope, and often where visibillity decreased as spruce supplanted pine. We saw runners get close to controls and not see the kite, so assume that many were set low. Any faster runners who managed an error-free run did well, and amidst many smaller errors there were some big, spectacular and unexpected mistakes from very good orienteers. The surprises made for very exciting spectating on the Internet TV, and unexpected names on the podiums of the middle and relays.

Results of World Cup Round 2 at IOF Eventor.

Britain sent a full team of 14 athletes including six World Cup debutants. Alastair Thomas, Nathan Lawson and Grace Molloy made their senior debuts at the World Champs. It was first time in the senior team for Joshua Dudley, Fiona Bunn and Laura King

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previousMapIdre4

The World Cup Round 2 at Idre Fjäll in Sweden has races on Thursday 12th (long), Saturday 14th (middle) and Sunday 15th August (forest relay.) For all races the terrain is mainly high runnability and high visibility pine forest at 600m-900m, with plenty of contours and marsh, and little else.

Britain is sending a full team of 14 athletes. Six men and six women can run each individual race, and there will be two GB teams in each relay.

All races have internet TV coverage with English commentary.

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FlagsThe season finished not soon after it started.

In the UK we had racing until the middle of March. And then it all stopped. The British Nights were held. The first round of the UK Elite League took place.

There were immediate cancellations/postponements of the big Spring events and the Welsh multiday summer festival. Other events, such as the Home Internationals, held out hope for varying lengths of time, but in the end none could see a way to take place. And that was pretty much it for racing in the UK.

There may be a short Autumn flurry, as has already started in Sweden and Norway - let's see.

But there was considerable creativity on recreational lines. Clubs created MapRun courses for independent exercise, and many regular orienteers reminded themselves about permanent courses. There were the Lockdown festivals.

And so it was across the world, and we had little of our usual fare to report or link to. But there were a few things, here's a roundup.

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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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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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