WOC 2015: Will it be Scotland?

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With WOC 2011 due to get underway tomorrow, orienteers across the country will be backing the British team in France, but there is an added element to this year's World Championships which presents the need for crossed fingers, as the decision is made over who will host WOC 2015 - Scotland or Sweden. 

Jamie Stevenson, former GBR team member and multiple WOC gold medal winner, said about our bid:

"Running WOC on home ground in 1999 was one of the greatest experiences in my orienteering career. Of course I felt at home in the tough Scottish terrain, where I had grown up as an orienteer, and I enjoyed the support of the enthusiastic home crowd. I enjoyed the variety of terrain during the week, and the fact that many of the areas had never been used before. But I also felt proud about showing top orienteers from other nations what we had to offer in my home country – the technical challenge, the demanding terrain and the beautiful landscape that made an unbeatable natural arena.

"After mainstream television coverage of orienteering at several of our major events in recent years, I also believe that Scotland is ready to promote the sport to a wider public. The organisers understand the demands of sports journalists and modern media coverage.

"WOC in Scotland will leave a legacy for grassroots orienteering and the development of our sport that the organisers, and the IOF, can be proud of.

"Finally, I believe that a WOC in Scotland will offer excellent training and demanding competition for the world's best runners, delivered by the enthusiasm and passion of the organising clubs."

While this time around the areas, Sprint excepted, aren't going to offer anything new, those available for the Long, Middle, Relay (and whatever other random races are added to the WOC menu by then - this too will be discussed in France this week) are typical Scottish classics.

From the physically challenging Uath Lochan and faster morraine pine forest of Inshriach in the South up through Rothiemurchus you have a wonderful mix of forest and contrasting tough open moorland. North of Aviemore, and up towards Carrbridge, you have the birch forested morraine and open moorland around Loch Vaa, used for the WOC '99 relays, as well as the more physical challenge of Docharn and Deishar, a large area of pine plantation with areas of birch woodland.

The WOC 2015 leaflet describes the terrain as: 

"physically and technically demanding and will be rewarding to compete in. All this is set against the fantastic natural backdrop of the cairngorm mountains and the Spey valley. The forest venues are set in the heart of what was the Caledonian Forest and contains many remnants of this great  wood. This is characterised by mature woodland, semi-open areas of pine and birch and a patchwork of varying age pine plantations. The ground conditions vary from very fast to slower areas of heather. The landforms are generally flat moraine with occasional large hills, with few rock details. There is a network of paths, tracks, forest rides and fences. The sprint venues offer urban areas with roads and small alleyways, parkland with sections of ornamental gardens and community woodlands containing many paths and tracks."

IOF Advisor Bjorn Persson assessing the Scottish terrain

Earlier this year Bjorn Persson, the IOF Sports Director, visited Scotland to view the terrain, arenas, and accommodation options, as well as meet with the British Orienteering bid team and landowners. During the visit Bjorn said that: "There are two very good applications, both are high quality. There is a difficult decision for the IOF, competition is fierce." and that "You have done a very good job putting together a strong British candidature".

With Scotland up against Sweden, who last hosted the event in 2004, it will be a tough choice, but fingers crossed that Great Britain is chosen as it would be a great opportunity to add to the growing stature of Scottish orienteering internationally.

The Scottish 6 days now attracts a large proportion of overseas competitors, and continues to evolve their Elite competition while pushing forward with developments such as GPS tracking and video coverage. Coupled with the success of other international endeavours in recent years, including World Ranking Events, the Park World Tour and Junior European Cup in 2010, the opportunity to use a World Championships to further develop the sport would be welcomed greatly. 

With an ever aging orienteering population in the UK, it is hoped that building up to a World Championships in 2015, presented in an exciting manner with all the benefits that TV and GPS coverage can offer, might just be the catalyst needed to push the development of orienteering at a grass roots level. 

While it may not be the solution for orienteering in this country, something needs to be done to capture the attention of adventurous minded people and attract them into, or keep their interest, in the sport.

We have a number of great athletes who have shone on the World Stage, and in four years time they, and many others, might just be reaching their peak and ready to take gold on home turf. With the ever expanding possibilities to make the sport more accessible to the outside viewer, whether you agree with the changes to the WOC schedule or not, this would be a fantastic opportunity to see the best in the world compete in our backyard and showcase the exciting and demanding challenge that orienteering is.

You can find out more about the British Orienteering World Championships bid in this leaflet and show your support by liking them on Facebook. You can also discuss the bid in our forums.

 

 

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