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2015 World Orienteering Championships

by Press Release
Wednesday 5th August 2015

Race previews: The 2015 IOF World Orienteering Championships (WOC2015) - Friday July 31 to Saturday August 8, 2015

The Forest Relay at Darnaway Castle - August 5, 2015

The IOF World Orienteering Championships 2015 continues today (5 August) when the Relay takes place on the Darnaway estate near Forres. Teams of three will compete in separate men’s and women’s races, with the first third leg runner across the line being crowned World Champion.

Many athletes found the Middle race in the same venue on Tuesday (4 August) a challenge both physically and technically, with many of the top competitors making big navigational errors, so it will be interesting to see how they perform under the additional pressure of racing head to head on a new course.

The Swedish men will be looking to defend the Relay title they won last year in Italy, with Switzerland, France and Norway also among the favourites for medals. The British men last won the title in 2008, and Graham Gristwood – who was part of that 2008 gold medal-winning team – Scott Fraser, and Ralph Street will be hoping to challenge for the podium again.

Street, for whom the Relay will be the only race at this World Championships, identifies Sweden and Switzerland as the teams to beat. He is particularly excited about competing in front of a British crowd. “It’s probably a once in a lifetime experience, so I feel really honoured that I’ve been chosen to be a part of the team. I expect the home support to be really loud and extremely passionate. I think it will definitely improve my performance!

The Swiss, Danish and Swedish teams will be the favourites for the women’s race, although with two of the star names – Sweden’s Tove Alexandersson and Switzerland’s Judith Wyder – struggling with injuries, it is difficult to predict who will win.

The British women’s team of Cat Taylor – who finished in an impressive fifth place in Tuesday’s (4 August) Middle race – Jessica Tullie (who replaces Hollie Orr due to injury), and Claire Ward will be looking to improve on the sixth place they achieved in the 2014 Relay. Edinburgh-based Ward, at 38 one of the most experience athletes in the British squad, has struggled with numerous injuries over the years, including a fractured hip in a hit-and-run accident when she was 21.

“After my problems with injuries I am grateful for every time that I can run pain free,” she says. “The motivation and determination my experiences have given me is my competitive edge.”

Ward is delighted to have the opportunity to compete on home soil, and is looking forward to sharing the experience with those who are close to her. “After more than 30 years of orienteering here, Scottish forests define orienteering to me. I am so proud to be chosen to compete at these World Championships. It means a lot to me that my kids, my husband, my brother and sister and their kids, my mum, my coach, my clubmates, my friends – all those who provide me with so much help in being an elite athlete – get the chance to see me perform on the world stage.”

Ward also praised the support she had received from her fellow Scottish orienteers, adding “Scottish orienteering is brilliant in supporting the elite athletes, and there are many very talented volunteers involved in putting on the 2015 World Championships. I have every confidence that this will be the best World Championships yet.”

The Relay will be shown live on BBC Alba from 4:00pm on Wednesday (5 August).


Full full details, see the 2015 World Orienteering Championships website at www.woc2015.org

For regular updates, check out the WOC2015 Facebook page: www.facebook.com/WOC2015

World Orienteering Championships - Middle distance

After three days of urban racing in Forres and Nairn, the World Orienteering Championships moves into the forest on Tuesday (4 August) when the Middle race takes place on the Darnaway estate near Forres. Six British athletes, including a former World Championship gold medallist, will be among around 150 competitors from 51 countries taking part.

With the men’s course having a winning time of 33 minutes for 6.2 km, the Middle race is the ultimate test of an athlete’s ability to navigate accurately at high speed through complex terrain. Total concentration will be required to avoid making costly navigational errors among the many small lumps and bumps of Darnaway’s glacial terrain.

The favourites for the men’s race include Switzerland’s Daniel Hubmann, Sweden’s Gustav Bergman, Ukraine’s Oleksandr Kratov, and French superstar Thierry Gueorgiou, who has won the title on seven previous occasions.

The British men are Graeme Gristwood, who won gold as part of the British team in the 2008 World Relay Championship; Ali McLeod, from Evanton in Easter Ross, who will be making his World Championship debut in this race at the age of 24; and Edinburgh-based Hector Haines, who will be competing in his fifth World Championships.

Haines, who holds the course record for the infamous Isle of Jura Fell Race, is thrilled to be running in a home World Championships.

“I am sure the home support will be amazing and nothing like anything I’ve ever experienced before,” Hector says. “It’s been very inspiring talking to people who are obviously very excited that the World Championships are coming to Moray. There have been a number of school children in particular who have shown incredible enthusiasm for the sport.”

Asked about his orienteering heroes, he names Hubmann, Gueorgiou, and his own father, Peter Haines, who represented Great Britain at the first World Orienteering Championships to be held Scotland in 1976.

“This Championships is something I have been aiming for for the past five years or so, so it’s pretty significant for me on a personal level too,” he adds. “I’ve invested a lot and made many life decisions all based on getting the most out of myself this year.”

The race for the women’s title is wide open, with the big favourite Tove Alexandersson of Sweden struggling with a foot injury which forced her to withdraw from the Sprint Final in Forres on Sunday (2 August) and may force her to withdraw form the Middle distance race too. Alexandersson’s Swedish teammate Helena Jansson, Denmark’s Ida Bobach and three-time world Middle champion Minna Kauppi of Finland are also expected to challenge for the medals.

Britain will be represented in the women’s race by Cat Taylor of Cleveland Orienteering Klub, Jess Tullie, who lives near Grantown-on-Spey, and Glaswegian Hollie Orr.

Orr, who is tipping Alexandersson and Bobach for medals, is looking forward to vocal support from the home crowd. “I think it’ll be great! At previous World Championships I’ve always felt the excitement of the crowd for their home athletes, and I remember thinking last year that ‘next year that cheer will be for us’ – it was both exciting and slightly terrifying.”

Orr is also hopeful that the sight of the best in the world racing in Highland and Moray will inspire more people to try orienteering. “It’s fantastic. It’s an exciting time for the sport, and being able to showcase it to the public and inspire a new generation of runners is a privilege.”

Full full details, see the 2015 World Orienteering Championships website at www.woc2015.org

For regular updates, check out the WOC2015 Facebook page: www.facebook.com/WOC2015

World Orienteering Championships - Sprint distances

Six British elite orienteers will take on the best in the world when they race around the streets of Forres, in Moray, in the Sprint Final of the IOF World Orienteering Championships 2015 this  afternoon - Sunday 2 August 2015.

The Sprint is the fastest-paced and most frenetic of the World Championship disciplines, with competitors choosing their routes and navigating through complex urban areas, all while running at high speed against the clock.

The stand-out British performance in Qualification came from Kris Jones of Swansea Bay Orienteering Club, who won his 3.7 km heat in a time of 11m44s, fifteen seconds ahead of last year’s World Champion, Denmark’s Søren Bobach.

Jones, a former Junior World Championship silver medallist who is ranked 19th in the world in the Sprint discipline, spoke of how much it means to him to be competing in a world championships on home soil.  He said: “It’s special – I’ll be competing in front of a lot of people who have shaped my journey as an athlete.”

The British runners will be up against competitors with multiple World Championship titles to their name, but after a set of strong performances in the Sprint Qualification races on Friday (31 July) - all 6 sprint athletes qualified - there is a realistic chance of Great Britain picking up one or more medals in the Final, which will be shown live on BBC Alba.

Another British medal hope is Midlothian-based Scott Fraser, who picked up a silver medal at the 2013 World Championships in Finland and will be hoping to go one better in front of a home crowd. Having qualified comfortably on Friday, Fraser seemed positive about his chances of success: “Everything was perfect – I’m feeling fantastic about running in the Final.”

Charlotte Ward of Humberside and Lincolnshire Orienteers, making her World Championship debut at the age of 22, also impressed in Qualification, finishing in third position in her heat, just four seconds behind nine-time World Championship gold medallist Minna Kauppi of Finland.  Ward praised the vocal support for the British athletes during Qualification: “The home support is really cool; everyone you see is draped in a Union Jack”

The Great Britain team will all be hoping for an equally strong reception when they return to the streets of Forres today (Sunday 2 August).

Ward also urged anyone who had enjoyed watching the world’s top orienteers racing around Forres and Nairn to give the sport a go themselves, saying: “Try it! The Scottish 6-Days public races [running alongside the World Championships] are a great opportunity, particularly since there will be so many people there. Definitely have a go at a variety of different disciplines and terrains as well to see which you enjoy the most.”

Full full details, see the 2015 World Orienteering Championships website at www.woc2015.org

For regular updates, check out the WOC2015 Facebook page: www.facebook.com/WOC2015


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