World Masters Orienteering Championships in Slovakia

Liz placed 2nd in the Sprint race – local olive oil among the prizes!

Liz places 2nd W75 in the Sprint Final

The World Masters Orienteering Championship is held annually for over 35s.  Open to all and typically attracts around 3000–4000 competitors, with public races for the rest of the family. One of the great attractions of the sport is that with common mapping symbols etc. you can compete on an equal footing anywhere in the world.  There is a sprint qualifier and final, forest qualifier, middle distance final and a long distance final.  Also model sprint and model forest areas are available.  In fact the thunderstorm at the forest model was the only time we saw any rain.

Eight DVOs took part this year in Kosice, Slovakia in August. Almost the largest British club contingent.  Five travelled courtesy of Wizz/Ryan Air, 2 by camper van driving via Germany etc. and 1 by cycling via Romania (JWOC) and Slovenia (OO cup).  Kosice is the 2nd city of Slovakia in the east of the country (not that far from the Ukrainian border!). The old town had interesting buildings and an extensive park with impressive fountains.

The sprint qualifier was around a university campus with complex buildings and parks, finishing in an arena along the running track.  Whereas the final started in side streets leading into the main thoroughfare of the old town. Not very complex but with some streets blocked by artificial barriers to create route choice, then progressed to the city park where miles of red/white tape kept us off the grass to run through complicated path junctions (think Star Posts, an area in Berkshire). It was disappointingly short compared to the guidelines of 15min winning time, and simplistic.  Very much a runner’s course.  As ever a walk through town and the park the previous day (before the embargo) paid dividends, as did watching the first few competitors come through the last controls, so working out which I would be going to – one for A finals and one for us also-rans.

Liz was amazed to come 2nd in just 11 minutes, and John Duckworth was 5th in 12 minutes but only 9 seconds down on the winner. Note DVO and SYO tops on the podium.

The Sprint Final took place on the University campus, with an arena finish on the running track

The three forest events were on a variety of terrain types.  The Middle Final was a typical middle distance with short legs in fairly runnable, well contoured forest (much more runnable than Darnaway 2 weeks before!).  As ever, looking at the finish and the two last controls before running was well worthwhile.  You should have seen the number of competitors who had to backtrack from the wrong control.

The long final was on typical karst terrain with a large number of enormous depressions (remember these are 5m contours):

Just like Vieste in Italy last year (except that was like this every day). Fewer controls so route choice was key.   I proved that one depression looks very like another, so took 47 minutes on a long leg when I suspect I mistook a depression with open in the centre for another and then lost it totally – not helped by the heat. Amazed that I actually beat one other competitor.  And I was not the only DVO making mistakes that day!

Personally, my ambition as a final year M70 had been to make the A finals (the top 27 of each of 3 heats for M70).  Missed the cut at the sprint by 1 place and 7 seconds.  Made it to the Middle final but avoided relegation, going on to the Long A final by just one place!

Join us next year in Turku, second city of Finland on the south west coast, 2nd – 9th August. Country number 25 on my orienteering list.  Areas are reputed to be good terrain with plenty of grey (smooth rock) on the maps for the forest.  Getting there is a choice of flying via Stockholm to Turku, fly to Helsinki then hire car or train, or ferry from Sweden – around 10 hours.  One snag – it is Emit punching and non-contactless for all.  Could follow on from O-Ringen.  See www.wmoc2024.fi.

Mike & Liz Godfree

 

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Elvaston Castle

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Eyam Moor

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