The World Masters Orienteering Championships (WMOC 2016) is held each year for orienteers aged 35 years and older. This year they were held in the Baltic State of Estonia with the event centre in the beautiful city of Tallinn famous for its medieval old town, a UNESCO World Heritage site. The oldest competitor was a woman in the W95 age group.
Four IKO members joined the 3,500 competitors in Tallinn for the event which comprised three qualifying events and two finals (sprint and long events) held over 6th to 13th August. Competitors had the opportunity of running on two model maps prior to the events to familiarise themselves with the different terrain.
The competition commenced with a sprint qualifier on Sunday 7th August, held in the grounds of the Kadrioru Palace, the original building commenced by Russian Tsar Peter the Great for his wife Catherine in 1718, and later reconstructed into its current form by Tzar Nicholas 1st in 1817. The course took us through beautifully manicured Palace gardens and forested park. Everyone had a control on or near the Palace steps.
The area was flat and very fast with the finishers running down the track of the nearby athletic stadium cheered on by their friends in the grandstand. After the race the IKO contingent adjourned to the cafe at the palace to get their carbohydrate loading for the sprint final the next day.
Two IKO members, Salme (W50) and Margaret (W70), had good runs and managed to make the A final in their respective age groups. Ian (M60) made the C final and Sue (W55) the B final – both in very competitive age groups.
The sprint final was held in the old medieval town of Tallinn where competitors had to navigate the narrow cobbled streets and laneways, dodging many tourists on the way, and making sure they had the right church (there were many) and alley ways. Unlike the previous day there was a hill on the map. It was a lot of fun and winning times were very fast. Even the winner in W90 only took 18:08 for her 1.04 km course.
There were two qualifying races for the long final in the forest areas 60 km east of Tallin. Only Salme and Margaret were brave (or foolish) enough to tackle the complicated marsh areas with the Froudes sensibly heading off to visit the beautiful Latvian capital of Riga. Day one went well with both runners making some mistakes but still pleased with their times. Whilst visibility was good in some areas the runnability was sometimes hampered by fallen trees. Some of the course area was also used as a frisbee golf course which made for some interesting, but useful, navigation points.
Day two was much more difficult with everyone having to run through the marsh at some stage on their courses. Unlike Australian marsh northern European marshes come in various forms and range from marsh in forested areas with very soft terrain, to marsh with thick undergrowth, to bog with bad runnability and very bad runnability i.e. impassable.
Salme made it through to the final day but unfortunately was not able to finish her course while Margaret opted out after the 2nd qualifying heat, after not finding the second last control.
A number of Australians attended WMOC 2016 having varying degrees of success including Natasha Key from Victoria winning the W45 A sprint and long event finals. The full results are available from the WMOC 2106 website.
Competing internationally with orienteers of your own ages and similar abilities – they are not all champions – is a very enjoyable experience not only for the orienteering but also experiencing another country’s culture, scenery and their food. Yes we did try the reindeer.
WMOC 2017 is being held in and north of Auckland, New Zealand from 21 – 30 April following the Oceania championships 14 – 17 April. It is a good chance to have the thrill of racing in a large contingent of your orienteering peers and experience some of the delights of NZ.
Following are the IKO team results.
With thanks to Margaret Duguid for this great report.