Successful Euromeeting provides test bed for WOC 2024

Preparations for WOC 2024 in Edinburgh took a massive step forward this weekend, as Euromeeting
came to Stirling, and a series of races over the world championship distances  Euromeeting
traditionally is an opportunity for the host federation to test out its preparedness for the main event,
and the mappers, planners and key organisers were keen to make their mark on what should be a
fantastic experience in Edinburgh next summer.

Proceedings opened on Friday with a Mixed Sprint Relay round the campus of Queen Victoria
School, Dunblane. The establishment was once a key venue on the local orienteering scene, but
access issues have prevented its use for several years until now, so it was great to get back out again
on what’s a fantastic Sprint area. Planner Graeme Ackland eschewed the use of half of his reserved
area, and opted instead for a tight set of courses in the grounds of the school itself, with route
choices galore and many changes of direction.

Last week’s European Championships in Italy served as the end of the season for many of the top
athletes, but there was still a star-studded cast on display, with European champions Sweden in
particular flexing their muscles with three of the top 12 athletes in the world in their team, two of
whom were omitted last week. The race was close through the first three legs. until Hanne
Lundberg produced a run for the ages on the last lap, turning an eight second gap at the change-over
into a two minute winning margin (52.43) by the end for the Swedes. There was a dramatic
conclusion to the race, as Norway was second over the line, only to initially be disqualified for a
last leg mispunch. An appeal was quickly submitted, into the proximity of two controls, and they
were reinstated before the trophy presentation, leaving France in 3rd place.

On Saturday it was the turn of the Knockout Sprint, at Stirling University, and there was more close
action to follow. An initial qualification round in the morning established the 36 runners who would
go out in the knockout phase, and there was significant British interest, as eight of the men and no
fewer than nine of the women in the GB team, many of whom have a Scottish connection, made it
into the afternoon field. The quarter-final action took athletes from the back of the university
library, across the loch and round the accommodation, before returning to the start in frantic seven
minute races. Many of the Brits were drawn into the same heat, but five emerged, including “Scots”
Freddie Carcas (Interlopers) and Eddie Narbett (AROS), as well as World champion in the
individual sprint Megan Carter-Davies (SBOC).

The action grew hotter and hotter, with only two from each semi-final progressing to the main race. 
Three more Brits fell at this stage, but Eddie and Megan both made it to the final.  Eddie was first in
action, and was prominent through the early stages of the race, which was led out by Switzerland’s
Fabian Aebersold. Sitting 2nd with 150 metres and two controls to go, Eddie was agonisingly run
out of the medals by five seconds, as Swedish duo August Mollen and Jonatan Gustafsson came
through onto the podium. Aebersold led the race from start to finish, and Stirling University is
clearly a happy hunting ground for his family, as he joins younger sister Simona, who won the JEC
Sprint here in 2017 in the Stirling champions book.

The last action of the day was the womens final, with British interest in the form of Megan Carter-
Davies. Unlike the men’s final, which splintered on the first control, the women stayed together
throughout the race, and as Tilda Ostberg (SWE) ran off the front from the midway point, the battle
was on for the silver medal. Megan was 3rd coming back into the arena to Henna Lundberg, but
injected a deal of late pace to move ahead of the Swedish athlete with 80 metres left, and she came
in with the silver medal by 2.1 seconds.

The weekend closed with the Individual Sprint in Stirling Old Town. Tilda Ostberg made it a
double for the weekend, as she won the womens race in 14.43, while top seed Yannick Michiels
headed the mens class in 14.23, with GB’s Jonny Crickmore 2nd, just seven seconds behind. Flat-track sprinters were left gasping for breath by Ross McLennan’s courses, which intriguingly were of
standard length for the class, but featured a meaty level of climb.

As well as the World Ranking races, there was a large undercard of racing for local competitors,
with a series of mass-start sprints on Friday, which proved to the the first experience of head-to-
head sprinting for many of the competitors, two more individual sprints on Saturday, and the 10th
round of the Scottish Urban Orienteering League on the final day.

The event provided a testing ground for the WOC 2024 computing team as well as the planning and controlling teams. Given the excitement of the weekend, we are all looking forward to WOC 2024. Well done to the planners Jon Cross, Graeme Ackland and Ross McLennan, the controller Tony Thornley, Andy Llewelyn, Colin Matheson and the rest of the FVO team for all their efforts.