(profile photo by Erling Thisted / IOF)

Laura grew up as a member of Airienteers, winning the British NIghts W18 race in 2017. Went to Edinburgh University, winning JK Relay 2019. Now a postgraduate in Uppsala.

Has run relays for Södertälje Nykvarn Orientering (SNO) for a number of years.

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chloe-potter-BSR23_RLChloe Potter, first leg for South Yorkshire "Killer Bees" team, British Sprint Relays 2023, Brunel University London, photo: Rob Lines

There have been two important sprint format competitions in the UK this September. One was the gathering of top domestic and international runners for Sprint Scotland on the first weekend, and the other was a British Championships two weeks later. In between a 14-runner GB team for next month's sprint formats European Champs was announced.

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peter-molloy-c-WorldCup23SprintRelay_RLPeter Molloy, running in 2023 World Cup Round 2, photo: Rob Lines

As summer ends and Autumn begins GB orienteering attention is very much on the sprint formats. Our article Stepping to Edinburgh noted the next steps after World Cup Round 2 being the Antwerp Sprint Meeting in Ghent in mid-August and Sprint Scotland the first weekend in September. Both include knockout sprints.

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grace-molloy-OWC23Czech_JiriCechGrace Molloy, photo: Jiri Cech, Český svaz orientačních sportů

After the Sprint and Sprint Relay the World Cup Round in Czechia switched to the forest. On Saturday 5th August it was a Middle Distance, and on Sunday 6th August a Long Distance. These were the last forest races in the World Cup until after next year's Sprint World Championships in Edinburgh. The next 10 international races, four competition rounds, at World Cup / World Champs level, are in Sprint of one sort or another.

In general in the forest the GB athletes had quite good technical races, but the physicality of the courses did not suit them. Almost all the running required climb or descent (and often both) or contouring on often steep slopes.

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teamGB2finishes-WorldCup23SprintRelay_RLRachel Brown finishes in the World Cup Sprint Relay in Česká Lípa, photo: Rob Lines

The second race of World Cup Round 2 was an exciting Sprint Relay with 59 teams taking part. Nations could enter up to four teams with the highest placed counting for the World Cup and podium. Team GB1 mispunched on leg 1, and it was left to team GB2 to secure 17th nation place. At the front it was expected to be a close race between the Swedish and Swiss first teams, with an intriguing contest for third and the other podium places. It went like that for a time as Sarah Hagstrom and Simona Aebersold built a sizeable lead on leg 1, and at the end of the second leg Sweden 1 and Switzerland 1 were just two seconds apart..And over a minute ahead of a group of chasing teams. But then Matthias Kyburz pulled away on leg 3 and gave Elena Roos a good margin for the final leg. So Switzerland won. Sweden 1 were overtaken right at the end by the Czechia 1 team to the delight of the home crowd.

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ralph-street-1-WorldCup23Sprint_RLRalph Street won the World Cup Sprint Race in Česká Lípa, photo: Rob Lines

Česká Lípa in North-East Czechia, close to where the World Champs were held in 2021, is hosting World Cup Round 2. The first race, on Wednesday August 2nd, was an individual sprint and Ralph Street won. He was the fifth last starter, came sixth in last year's World Champs, and has been running fast times in sprint relays in the last few years. Nevertheless his victory was unexpected by the commentators who bravely pick possible winners before a race! It was noted that the win came only a few weeks after the forest World Champs, which Ralph had prioritised in his training.

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OverViewMapCeskaLipaČeská Lípa is the location for World Cup Round 2

Close to where the 2021 World Champs races were, and like then with both sprint and forest races on the programme, Česká Lípa in Czechia hosts World Cup Round 2. It's the third of the four big international competitions in the year. World Cup Round 1 (Norway) and the World Champs (Switzerland) have passed and the European Champs in Sprint (Italy) are ahead in early October.

GB has a team of 14 athletes. Britain has six places for the sprint, middle and long races, and can enter three sprint relay teams. It is expected that most of the athletes will run all the races: Sprint, Sprint Relay, Middle Distance and Long Distance.

IOF Eventor - World Cup Round 2

There are accompanying spectator races under the label Kwak Czech O-Tour.

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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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