Jane Kayley Burgess reports on WMOC 2022
What a week!
Italy was my second WMOC. For Denmark in 2018 we were totally prepared; all events booked, taking the campervan so we were in charge of our destinies, transport and accommodation, all bulletins were printed and understood.
Italy was as different from Denmark as, well, Italy is from Denmark. My new passport (applied for ten weeks before the event) didn’t come until two weeks before we flew (yes, flew, and we all know what the airports are like at the moment) so I found it hard to engage fully with the event. I left booking things to the last minute which meant paying extra for entries, missing being able to book a car parking space at the events, failing to really appreciate the last minute detail of the bulletins (like you can’t get on the bus without a wrist band and we didn’t arrive until 2.00am on the day of the first event so how am I going to catch the bus to the event to get my wrist band etc etc).
The later bulletins then suggested that Annie and I would have to travel on different busses (our start times in both qualifiers were two and a half hours apart) and we were staying 10km outside the village with the bus station and I was the named driver for the car so how was that going to work? She couldn’t sit on the beach for two and a half hours, although I suspect she might have liked to! An email query divulged that we could get our bags of race numbers and goodies (a tin of tomatoes!) at the bus station but that they would have start times on them and they would be checked before we got on the bus to make sure we weren’t doing something illegal, like travelling together!
By the time my passport arrived I was wishing we were just going for a holiday but we had paid a lot of money to run around in over 30 degrees, so run around we were going to do.
And thank goodness we did. Of course everything worked out just as it should have. We got our wrist bands. There were no bibs for us until we got to the event and certainly none of the smiling helpful young Italians were checking race times. The air-conditioned coaches, in convoys of two or three, set off smartly, accompanied by a police car and two police motorbikes, blues and twos going like the clappers, clearing the road ahead as if for royalty. So it continued all week. Mussolini’s train legacy applied to everything and there was no hanging about, even for the boat trip on our day off.
So what was there to like?
Me, a pretty average (at best), unfit 65 year old being able to run with both true orienteering royalty (and even having a chat in our swimming pool with someone who was on the podium three times for three finals) and the most inspirational 80+ year old orienteers whose run ins brought a lump to my throat. Sole Nieminen, winner of the W95, was out on the long course for nearly three hours. Someone asked for a photo with her sitting at the finish. She agreed and when he (M45) sat down, she put her arm round his shoulders and gave him a beaming smile.
The dozens, if not hundreds of volunteers who were calm, smiling, cheerful, helpful and, for me at least, couldn’t put a foot wrong.
The camaraderie of the DVO gang, with a camp set up by Mike every day, complete with DVO banner, cheering us in, sharing dinner and off day activities.
Hilarious commentary in perfect English, with orienteering appropriate songs (Go West, Pet Shop Boys ‘but not if your compass tells you to go a different way!’)
Finding my first control, especially on the first day in the forest. Being totally overawed, I had no plan at all about how I was going to get there and just trusted my compass.
Oh, that karst landscape! It’s magnificent and quite unworldly.
Me, a pretty average etc 65 year old getting to the A finals.
A huge water bowser with a perpetually smiling man refilling cups for desperately thirsty competitors.
Keg beer next to the finish line of the long final!
And what was not quite to like?
Me, a pretty average etc 65 year old being stopped at least three times in every race and asked the way! Always by Scandinavians. One woman grabbed my map as I punched a control and demanded to know where she was. A fit M50 stopped me, pointed to his map, said ‘We are here’ when we very obviously weren’t. We often came across huddles of runners conferring on their location, especially in the forest. Very strange to us buttoned up Brits!
10 toilets between over 2,000 competitors leading to such a queue at the sprint events that many, yours truly included, ran desperately needing a wee.
WMOC 2022 is a holiday (and yes, it was a holiday) that I will never forget.
Slovakia 2023? Yes please!