As a sport, we must work together to resume orienteering responsibly and within the relevant Government guidance.
The Board of Directors have committed to following the respective advice of each government, and therefore there are likely to be periods when types of orienteering activities permitted, vary between different parts of the UK, depending on the Government guidelines and regulations.
British Orienteering has developed a dedicated webpage here.
On this webpage the guidance for each of the nations will be updated accordingly as further announcements by local or national Governments are made.
All guidance is subject to any further restrictions that may be imposed by local or national Governments.
This webpage also includes links to key documents and information to support clubs and participants in delivering safe orienteering and includes the following support resources:
No doubt many of you have seen this announcement from the International Orienteering Federation (IOF) on Friday (31 July 2020).
This has meant the cancellation of JWOC 2020 and the replacement of Portugal with Turkey in 2021. Also, EYOC is going ahead, but will be rebranded as EJOC (European Junior Orienteering Championships) and include M/W20's. The precise details of the event have yet to be finalised and the latest notification on the EYOC website states that there will be an update by Saturday 8th August.
So, on this basis, we will continue to look to hold selection races over the August weekend of 28th-30th, as previously notified, for M/W16's-M/W20's and the selection policy for EJOC will be reframed in light of the Hungarian organiser's guidance, in due course. These races will still be used for next season's Talent Squad selection purposes as well.
However, it must be stated that, even though the IOF have given the green light to EYOC/EJOC, there obviously remains significant levels of concern over whether this competition will still go ahead, given the fluctuating nature of Covid19 in both the UK and Europe. We will continue to plan to send a team, but everyone needs to be aware that the situation remains precarious and we will continue to monitor developments in the coming weeks. There will probably be some specific Covid-secure guidelines from the organising body in Hungary, which we will need to react to, and the latest UK government guidance will also need to be adhered to.
On the topic of selection races, I was hoping today to give you more specific details of their location, but the continuing fluctuating situation regarding release of lockdown in the UK, some issues around the securing of access permissions, and compliance with the return to orienteering policy, means that I'm not able to do this with guaranteed certainty at the moment. Discussions are ongoing and, as I realise the urgency of giving everyone as much lead in time as possible, I am working hard to ensure that you have this information by the end of this week. I apologise for the delay and I thank you for your patience in these difficult times!
Head Coach for Talent
International Orienteering Federation (IOF); 31 July 2020.
The IOF Council, at its digital meeting held today July 31st, decided that the Junior World Orienteering Championships (JWOC) 2020 scheduled to be held in Turkey in October and the World Mountainbike Orienteering Championships (WMTBOC) 2020 scheduled to be held in Portugal in October are cancelled due to the continuing effects of the Covid-19 virus pandemic. The Council also decided that the scheduled organisation of the European Youth Orienteering Championships (EYOC) in Hungary, 24-26 October 2020, could proceed. As part of the decision about EYOC, Council approved the organisers proposal to include competition classes for junior athletes (Men up to 20 years old and Women up to 20) and to declare these the European Junior Orienteering Championships (EJOC) 2020.
– The decisions made by Council today are consistent with the information the IOF has gathered regarding the difficulty in organising global orienteering events, where different regions of the world are at different levels of restrictions and activity due to the pandemic, states IOF Secretary General/CEO Tom Hollowell. – At the same time, we do see some more positive developments in Europe where we are able to conduct events at regional level, first the European Mountainbike Orienteering Championships and now the European Youth Orienteering Championships. I really need to show appreciation to our organisers and member federations for their continuing understanding and assistance us as we try to find the best solutions for offering athletes opportunities to compete at championship level events in a safe environment.
The Council decisions about the events were largely based upon consultation carried out with members regarding their ability and willingness to participate, as well as the recommendations of the respective organisers and IOF Senior Event Advisers. For the World Championships events it was obvious in the consultation, answered by 46 IOF members, that broad participation would not be possible and that the value of the global championships would be significantly reduced for athletes, organisers, venues and partners. For EYOC, European region members were much more positive about their possibilities for participating, with a clear majority stating that they most likely or certainly would send a team.
The decision about the Junior World Orienteering Championships means that the respective appointed organisers for the years 2020 – 2022 have agreed to move their event one year, i.e. JWOC 2021 will be held in Turkey, JWOC 2022 will be held in Portugal and JWOC 2023 will be held in Romania. The IOF intends to open an opportunity for athletes born in 2000, who had their final year of junior eligibility in 2020, to compete for medals at JWOC 2021. However, the IOF would like to consult with member federations regarding the best method for including their participation prior to making a final decision. The consultation will be carried out immediately and a decision made at the Council meeting on September 25th.
The cancellation of the World MTB Orienteering Championships event in Portugal also means that the Junior World MTB Orienteering Championships and the European Youth MTB Orienteering Championships which were part of the event are also cancelled for 2020. The IOF is working with the organisers to see how the preparations and venue cooperation can be re-allocated to another IOF major MTB event in the near future.
Due to the special situation the European Junior and Youth Orienteering Championships in Hungary would be a one-time event for 2020, but Council further decided it would carry out consultation with member federations to determine if a European Junior Championships should be established as a permanent regional championships as is the case in other IOF regions. The organisers in Hungary presented, as part of their recommendation to Council, a number of preventive actions which will be taken to secure the safety of the participants in light of the Covid-19 situation. These will be communicated to all teams as part of the coming event bulletins.
By Duncan Bayliss, Wrekin Orienteers
Can you really do orienteering from your sofa? Well, during the current shut down of orienteering in the UK there is some good news that there is a surprising amount of orienteering fun to be had online. There are several orienteering games you can purchase such as Virtual O featured in this video clip with Simone Niggli, and there is a wealth of other free orienteering fun to be had too.
Simone Niggli playing Virtual O link to video: https://youtu.be/ERtiH-p3MIs
Orienteering calls itself the “Thought Sport” and it really is true. Knowledge, experience and skills development do count for a lot. We have had a number of notable orienteers in the UK who even as they got older kept beating much faster and younger competitors. It means that it is always worth working on the thinking part of the sport and Trail-O has shown that there is great challenge in navigation and map reading independent of running speed. Fortunately, there are many ways you can do some orienteering practice without stepping outdoors.
When compiling material for the orienteering skills website Better Orienteering, I was surprised to find how much there is to enjoy online, I hadn’t paid much attention to it before. You can while away many absorbing hours on activities that develop your skills or are just fun.
There are a series of convenient links on Better Orienteering under the websites and resources section that can take you to some here.
Planning routes on World of O - Route to Christmas series and Route to O - Season 2020
This is my favourite free online orienteering activity.
The Route to Christmas series has been running for some years and is a great way to practice route planning. Once I started, I was hooked and ended up working through all the back catalogue of routes from previous years. Legs from great courses throughout the year are made available in a series in December to “solve”. There is also currently a Route to O - Season 2020 series too.
You get to see the leg without any routes on first then can add your own route if you wish, and finally you can see where actual competitors. There is analysis of where they gained and where they lost time. It’s a great way to learn from the best. The series include a selection of legs from forest and urban races to work on. If you Google Route to Christmas 2018 (or 2014) it will take you into the vast World of O website.
We have had many family debates about the relative merits of routes and whether we would be actually be able to follow them. Sometimes I’ve looked at a leg and it feels like an age as I work out how on earth would I tackle it.
Jan Kocbach has done an amazing job with World of O and there is much more to explore there, I get lost in it for hours. The ongoing route analysis of World Cup races is fascinating too. Find out more here.
The link to the World of O Route to Christmas example shown below can be found here.
The same leg where competitors’ routes have been added can be found here.
Find out more here.
Route to O- Season 2020 example
The link to the World of O map of Day 1 Route to O-Season 2020 can be found here.
The link to the Route to O-Season 2020 series Day 1 webpage is available here.
Try a virtual run with an elite/ good orienteer. Headcam videos of elite competitors can give an interesting insight into the process of orienteering at a high level. You can follow the route on the map as well as seeing the video of the terrain from the runner’s perspective.
Here is just one example. Ivan Sirakov has posted a series of Head Cam videos with map inserts, on terrain around the world, in a series called ‘Analyse my Orienteering’.
Link to video here.
If you really want to do the full simulation, you can potentially find a map and course on World of O maps first here.
You could “solve” the route choices, then watch a competitor’s video for how they did it and re-evaluate your routes and / or skills and think about your ability to follow those routes you so confidently planned when just looking at the map!
These have been featured in the British Orienteering press before but are well worth a look if you don’t know them.
The Forest (free)
Probably the hardest but most important skill in orienteering is visualisation. The map needs to become a 3D reality in your mind. The Forest, developed by Graham Relf, a UK orienteer, is a way to practice this and develop your ability to see the shape of the land from the map in front of you. The Forest is free and does not require installation, it runs in your browser (PC, Android, Linux). There are novice and expert versions of courses and you can plan and send a course to friends. See the User guide. There is also a treasure hunt available when in Explorer mode.
The game can be found here.
Graham has recently put a lot of work into improving the visualisations in The Forest. As you learn the type of terrain that The Forest features, you become much better at visualising it from a map extract. This mirrors what happens in reality, where the better we know a certain type of terrain, say complex fells in the Lake District, the easier it becomes to “see” in our minds what the map is showing. Multiple World Champion Thierry Gueorgious’ father, Michel, calls this a Terrain Library that we build from our experience of orienteering in different types of terrain. The Forest illustrates that learning process very well.
There are several orienteering games you can purchase. Some have a free demo online. The two suggestions here are not in any order of recommendation. Both have been around a while, and both have been updating their digital landscapes. Just as with real orienteering, don’t expect instant success. The courses take a long time to work around just like real courses and when you get lost, you truly get lost!
Virtual O (game to purchase)
Virtual O is an orienteering simulation game. The video link at the start of this article shows Simone Niggli playing it and captures the sense of total immersion in the terrain as though you were really sitting in the forest. Clearly playing a game is not the same as really being outside, but the digital landscapes have come on a long way with realistic rendering from the maps. It can take a while to get the hang of using the interface, but the quickest competitors are impressive. The game is for purchase, but the demo video gives a good idea of what it entails.
The Virtual O demo page can be viewed below.
Catching Features (free demo then game to purchase)
Many orienteers have tried Catching features at some point. If you haven’t tried it, it’s worth a go. You can try a course on the free demo version to see if it works for you. The representations of terrain have moved on a lot from when such games first started. Unlike most fast-paced computer games it requires a steadier approach and there is a fair learning curve at first to work how best to interact with the courses. There’s a huge number of players already. You get to practice route choice and map reading without going out.
This free demo gives a good flavour and can be found here.
Build Your Skills
You can of course use some down time to review your skills and work out what you might be able to improve on. Orienteering is a never-ending learning process. There are lots of suggestions and resources on the Better Orienteering website here.
If you prefer to learn by watching videos, here are two playlists.
These video links can also be a great way to try to get friends hooked on the idea of trying orienteering.
Make A Map – Open Orienteering Map
If you have never tried using Open Orienteering Map by Ollie O’Brien it’s a diverting way to make training courses. Why not plan a club training session and some simple courses for when we are allowed back out into the great outdoors?
The Open Orienteering Map, the easy Street-O map creation tool can be found here.
Click on the little pen icon to edit text boxes. Maps are exported as pdfs.
You can then import your pdf to PurplePen (which is free to download) and add courses for when orienteering returns. Remember of course that land permissions are still needed.
Have fun orienteering online!