19 July 2014

British Champs, Jukola and World Champs preparation

Couple of months since my last blog - I have been busy racing, moving apartment (again) and preparing for World Champs!

Harvester Relay

Photo FVO

In the middle of May I traveled the length of the country to run for Forth Valley at the Harvester Relay (UK's answer to Jukola). I ran the longest night leg, and made a big lead for the team, which it held to the end. My third victory in the competition, with 3 different clubs! FVO article.

Scottish Champs
Photo FVO

The following weekend was the Scottish individual champs at Dalnamein - a really beautiful area (map here). I had a good steady run to win. The following day was the relay at Newtyle Hill (map here). I ran the last leg starting 2nd about 2 mins behind Murray Strain. I met him in the butterflies, but he was obviously well ahead. I managed to pull 30s back to take silver for FVO.

British Champs

Photo Rob Lines

Next up was the British Long and Relay champs in Northumberland. Having previously won two silver medals at the long champs, I was very motivated to finally become "King of the Forest". The race was very long and tough (map here), and I caught several other runners. My performance was quite good, but it was very difficult to run away from the others as it was hard to hit the controls cleanly in the circle. I managed to win in front of Dave Schorah (who I caught 3 minutes) and Hector Haines.

Photo Rob Lines

In the relay, it was once again a battle against Murray Strain and Interlopers, but this time there were a couple of other clubs (Oxford, Cleveland and Nottingham) in the fight. Map here. I started 5th, right behind Oxford, and I had a good battle with the other 3 (Murray was too far ahead). I was close to Peter Hodkinson in the fight for silver, but a longer forking close to the end gave me too much to make up and so it was a bronze for FVO.

UK Relay League

With a 1st, a 2nd and a 3rd, FVO finished 2nd in the UK Relay League 2014 behind Interlopers (who won 3 races!). However, the women managed to win the league! FVO article here. Results.


Jukola came at a bad time (as it often does) with regards to work commitments, WOC preparations, and again housing issues. The travel was also very stressful (flying to Stockholm, public transport to ferry terminal and arriving at the ferry with less than 3 minutes to spare). I was meant to run the last leg for IFK Mora, but I really wasn't feeling up to it, so I switched with Artem Panchenko and ran the 6th leg instead. Unlike at Tiomila I had an entirely solo run, with Hans Gunnar Omdal catching me at the last couple of controls. My performance was ok technically, but I had no power and no speed (getting no sleep due to a beach party at our accommodation didn't help). I started 9th and finished 8th (never saw the guy I passed). My time wasn't great compared to the best though which wasn't really a surprise given how my body felt. 11th felt like a bit of a disappointment for the club after 4th at Tiomila, but in retrospect given our preparations and the tough nature of the terrain, we did well to achieve the club's second best Jukola result since the 1960s - more to come though!

Tracking here. Results here.

WOC preparation

Preparation for WOC this year, but also for 2015! I have done a lot of training sessions in Scottish terrain, both around WOC 2015 areas, but also in other parts of the country. We had a good training weekend after Jukola on some relevant maps with SEDS (Scottish Elite group) including a Scottish O League event at Lossie (always a pleasure) - map here.

Then it was out to Italy with some GB and Hungarian athletes to acclimatise for WOC (both to the heat, altitude and terrain!). I will add the maps to my map archive soon, but we did some good training, some good rest and relaxation, and took part in some high quality competition at the Alpe Adria. I took part in the long and middle races. The long went very well (despite the rain and nettles), and I finished second in the WRE which was a good boost before WOC. Results here. Map here (not mine). The middle didn't go so well, but it was a good learning experience!

12 May 2014

Race The Castles

Race The Castles is a week-long festival of orienteering in Scotland this October. Perfect for people wanting to prepare for World Championships in Scotland, or just enjoy some high class orienteering.

The week kicks off with races and a ceilidh in Edinburgh and Stirling, then there is free training during the week in Deeside, followed by the JOK Chasing Sprint, a classic race at Balmoral Castle, and a closing event in the sand dunes of Forvie.

The races incorporate Park World Tour, World Ranking Events, European City Race Tour, Senior Home Internationals, UK Orienteering League (and probably more!)

Full information is available here.

From the website:

Invited Athletes

As part of Park World Tour we will be inviting a number of top international runners to Edinburgh and Stirling. This is being handled by Graham Gristwood, and will cover free entry and possibly some contribution to travel and accommodation. If you are a National Elite Champion or other top-20 ranked athlete and would like to be invited, please contact grahamgristwood@gmail.com

The Edinburgh/Stirling weekend features the Inaugural UK Senior Home International Sprint. The SHI selectors for England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales will nominate teams of 3 men and women each. Entries will be refunded by RaceTheCastles.

The Balmoral/Forvie weekend features the UK Senior Home International (SHI) contested on elite and relay courses. Selections for this event will be done by the respective nations.
To allow SHI runners to compete in the WRE, the start list for the SHI will be ordered according to WRE rules.

National Teams attending the WOC training camp are invited to participate in the relay on Forvie. We encourage other elite athletes to form mixed-nation teams.

07 May 2014


Tiomila is generally the biggest target of the year for any Swedish club, and IFK Mora (the club I run for and coach) is no exception. The men were 8th last year and with a stronger team this year the dream was to be top 5. We had very good preparations, and no problems with sickness or injury so we were able to select our strongest possible team.

Things went well through the night, with runner after runner doing a really good job to keep us in contention. We were in the lead group after 3rd and 6th legs (the straight legs) which was crucial, and then as things started to split up on 7th leg, Johan Lindberg did a really good job to start me in 5th place. I ran well (tracking here) - only losing time to Thierry - to change over 4th (just behind 3rd and quite close to 2nd still) after 8 legs. Vojtech and Roman then finished the job keeping the 4th place to the finish - the best result for IFK Mora since the 60s! This was the result of 15-20 guys training hard all year, and 10 good performances from those selected to be in the first team.

 All pictures Johan Trygg

I am now staying in Mora for a few more weeks before going back to the UK for some competitions in the end of May - Harvester Relay, then Scottish Championships, the British Long and Relay Championships.


I am happy to announce that as well as the continued support of inov-8 and Hilly, I also have renewed my support deal from Cherry Active and have a new sponsor - Ekens Sportprodukter.

Ekens Sportprodukter produces the best magnifiers (lupp) for orienteering that I have tried, and I now carry one with me on every race and every training session. It is invaluable as a tool to use in very detailed terrain when you need a better picture of the map and I highly recommend them.

European Champs and Kolmårdskavlen

Picture: Kristian Dahlström
European Championships

European Championships was an interesting experience this year - controls in the wrong places, poor maps in the qualification races, horrible terrain with man-eating bushes in the long qualification, course maps leaked before the long finals and so on. It was also a lot of fun! Mostly this was laughing about what could go wrong next, but I did enjoy all four races that I ran.

Middle qualification went well, and apart from the inexplicable map at number 5, a poor route choice to 12 and getting a bit stuck to 13, and I finished 8th in my heat, about 1 1/2 mins behind.
Long qualification was also fine, except for getting stuck in bushes on the way to 11 for 2 minutes! Again 8th in my heat, 2:40 behind.

Long qualification map

Middle qualification map

The middle final was not a good performance for me. I lost time on 4 of the first 5 controls, and in this terrain that is game over. I finished 28th, 3:11 behind having lost about 1:30 in the beginning. Tracking here (Although I was not tracked).

The long final was much more successful. I produced a good performance physically and technically, and finished 16th, 4:41 behind the leader. This is my second best ever long distance result, after 9th in WOC 2009. Tracking here and 2d rerun here.

The relay was the day after the long, and with 4 races in 6 days in my legs, I had to drop out of the GB team as I felt I had nothing in my legs to give. It was disappointing for me, but also partially expected. The boys did a very good job to come 5th without me!


I flew directly to Sweden to a Tiomila camp with my club, IFK Mora, from EOC. The non-EOC runners had a tough weekend with a lot of training/racing, and the EOC runners did what they felt they could after a tough championships. I just did some easy training before the main focus of the weekend - Kolmårdskavlen. A 5 man relay with almost all of the best Swedish clubs (and some overseas clubs too). We chose a very strong team to try and win the race - and that is exactly what we did!

Andreas Holmberg and Johan Lindberg ran really well on legs 1 and 2 to send me out in 3rd, just under 2 minutes behind. I had a very good run (and fastest leg time) to pull us into the lead on 3rd leg. Zsolt Lenkei (despite twisting his ankle on 1st control) ran well to change over 4th, just under 2 minutes behind, and then Vojtech Kral, our Czech superstar (fresh from EOC relay silver medal) passed the first 3 teams to win the relay for us! I am told that IFK Mora hasn't won many big senior relay competitions - with only a Rånässtafetten victory in the past decade or so - so hopefully this marks the start of a successful new era for the club.

Some nice articles about the victory here and here.

07 April 2014

WOC selections and EOC

So last weekend GB had the World Orienteering Champs test races. The policy is to select the team 3 months out, which might seem strange to some people as we haven't even had the European Championships yet. However, that is the way it is, and so we had some excellent competitions in the Lake District. First up was the middle distance. Not my best performance by any means, and I finished 4th, about 1:30 behind Doug Tullie.

Then it was the long distance, and I needed a big performance (GB only has 2 places in each of long and middle due to the new WOC qualification rules and I have no WOC form since 2011). I tried 'softer' as our old psychologist always used to preach, and I won the race, 1 minute in front of Scott Fraser, and a couple of minutes ahead of the others. Really nice race with some good route choices and tricky controls. My race wasn't perfect, but it was a nice boost to be strongest in the last part of the course!

I have been selected to run long distance at WOC in Italy in July. I am also in the relay 'squad' to be selected during the WOC week.

Yesterday I ran Scottish Orienteering League race 2 at Faskally near Pitlochry. It was a really nice middle distance, and my performance was much better than at the WOC middle test!

Tomorrow I fly out to Portugal for the European Championships. I am selected to run middle and long, and hopefully relay. First race is middle qualifier on Thursday.

19 March 2014

Portugal and Swedish / WOC rule changes

Pic: Joey Simkova
Last week I was in Portugal with IFK Mora, on a preparation camp for EOC. We ran some competitions the first weekend - supposedly the most relevant for EOC, albeit with complex rock detail which will not be the case in 4 weeks. First up was a long distance, and I was pleased to finish 2nd, 2 minutes behind Bergman. He ran 70 minutes, and I had 72 for the 16km course, which gives an indication of how fast EOC terrain can be! It was even quite wet in marshy areas and in the valleys. 2d-rerun of the race here. Results here. I feel a little more confident about tackling the 23km at EOC long distance now.
The next day was a WRE middle event, but I chose to take it as a low intensity training. Then we had a fantastic 6 days training around Coruche, with some relay training, some night training - almost all my maps are on my map archive page here.

Rule changes
It seems as though I may be able to run both British and Swedish Championships this year after all, as SOFT have changed the SM rules again. I have to check the details, but as I still have a registered address in Sweden and live there for part of the year, I should be eligible to run.

I also support the NORD proposal to split WOC into alternate years with urban and forest parts, and to revise the World Cup into something that athletes actually can afford to and want to go to! Proposal here. I also think that there should be qualification races for all athletes to ensure an equal chance for all in the finals, so that there is no 'headstart' for those runners whose federations have money to send them all to the best World Ranking gathering events (such as one-off races costing around 1000euro like the Turkey World Cup?). Countries outside the top 10-15 nations will also be able to develop athletes better, as there is actually a reason to go to WOC other than to just run sprint!

28 February 2014

British Night Champion

Last weekend I won my first British Night Championships (from 2 starts). There weren't a lot of the top guys there, but I did a fairly good race to win by almost 5 minutes from my IFK Mora club-mate Jegor Kostylev.
Results here
My map here

The weekend before I ran the Scottish Night Champs, and finished 2nd, just behind Mark Nixon. That was a scrappy run with many small mistakes, but I really enjoyed the course and the terrain. I also ran the CompassSport Trophy qualification race at South Achray for my club Forth Valley Orienteers, winning in front of Mark and Hector Haines. Maps here and here.

Training is going well, but I am happy that I am not competing in Turkey (World Cup) this weekend. Apart from the large financial outlay of attempting to compete in this years World Cup (all races to count, and single race in Turkey, 2 in Spain, 2 in Norway, 1 in Finland, 2 in Switzerland as well as EOC and WOC), the timing is not fantastic. Trying to lay down a good winter base for the long season doesn't mesh well with competing in a World Cup before the end of February. Unfortunately the Spain races fall between the GB WOC test races and the European Champs, so it is already a very intense period even without the extra World Cups.
I can't help but feel that the old system of week long World Cup rounds such as those I ran in Italy, France, UK etc around 8-10 years ago were much better designed for the current international elite - one week in the spring, WOC in the summer, and one week in the autumn so that those runners with jobs or without federation support can afford the time and cost to attend. Nowadays the World Cup seems to be Sweden vs Switzerland plus occasional guest runners. Personally I am saving my money to prepare for the World and European Championships as well as I can, and completely ignoring the World Cups for the foreseeable future (unless they fit in with my specific preparation). It seems like quite a few other runners agree!

13 February 2014


Stirling Castle and Wallace Monument from Douglashistory.co.uk

With WOC 2015 coming up, it seemed like a good opportunity to move to Scotland. I have spent a lot of time there on training camps, but never lived there before, so it was an exciting step. We chose to move to Stirling, as I knew quite a few people in the local club, Forth Valley Orienteers. They are also just about the most active club in Scotland, and Stirling is well located for hill running, orienteering, and also for travelling to Edinburgh or Glasgow.

We moved in the end of October, after the end of the Swedish season, and got straight into some tough Scottish orienteering. My new training partner is Mark Nixon, who is also a Forth Valley member, and we met regularly before Christmas to push each other in training sessions like these.

The first week in January the GB team had a WOC 2015 camp near Inverness. All my maps are in my map archive here.

One of the main reasons for leaving the Stockholm area is to get into the hills more, and within 45 minutes of Stirling are both the Ochil Hills and the Trossachs which have become my new favourite running grounds.

 Out in the Ochils with Mark

Solo run
 Gargunnock in the (recent) snow
Top of  Carleatheran (just 30cm of snow on top...)

The end of 2013 season

Me in action at Smalandskavlen

It has been a few months since my last blog - mostly due to lazy-ness, but I have also moved country and changed job. This is a little catch up about the end of last season.

After missing out on World Champs, I was selected for the World Cup Final in Baden. The middle distance wasn't my best day - I was a bit flat physically, and made some bad route choices ending in 34th position. The sprint (my first in anger for some time!) went much better. A decent performance, and more importantly, no problems with my calf, ending with a 21st place (only 13s from 10th, and 19s from 6th).
I wasn't tracked, but the tracking for the races are here - middle and sprint

Middle results
Sprint results

One week later was 25manna, and I ran the 7th leg for SNO. A couple of runners in the team had some problems, but I ran well and the team finished 9th - a bit down on last year's silver medal. Results.

Next up was the FRA Relay Champs in North Wales. My Mercia team were defending champions, but we were without my usual navigation leg partner Andi Davies. Unfortunately on the day we were no match for Dark Peak, but we ended up 2nd. Results.

My last race for SNO was Smålandskavlen. I was placed in the 2nd team (presumably because it was my last race for SNO...). I ran the 2nd leg, with 4th fastest leg time, and a good performance. Results here. The tracking for the last leg was quite exciting.