World Masters 2012

Before the event

Well, WMOC 2012 was in Germany – quite close – and I am in my first year as an M65, so at least I would be younger than most of my rivals, so why not try orienteering abroad for the first time? – so I did (assuming Scotland doesn’t count as abroad, that is).
When I go on holiday, I prefer the “I have a problem, so you can solve it, please ” approach, so I booked through Global Orienteering Tours. You throw money at them, and they arrange entry, accommodation, meals, something to do on rest days (“resting” is evidently not an acceptable option) and travel – with the proviso that the tour started at Hannover Airport at 3:00 pm.
The panjandrums of European transport evidently forgot about Global Orienteering Tours when they arranged travel schedules. It is possible to get to Hannover by train (my preferred mode of travel) in a day, but not by 3:00 pm, so I was forced to fly. This was no problem except I had to be at Heathrow by 5:00 am to catch the only direct flights (I talked later to the other members of the group, it became clear that it was a disadvantage to be a metropolitan smoothie, rather than a country yokel. As Hannover is a second rate airport, and – say – Southampton is a second rate airport, the flights between them are at sensible hours, whereas a first rate airport like Heathrow only fits Hannover flights in as an afterthought. I also mused on the duties of the local air traffic controllers. The Heathrow ones are dealing with a flight a minute or more all through their shift, but the Hannover ATC only gets a flight every half an hour. Does he sit around doing nothing in between, or is he given a broom and told to sweep the departure lounge when he has a few minutes to spare?)
Things got a bit better later. The flight was operated by BMI as a code share between BMI and Lufthansa, which owned BMI (I don’t understand that either!). When BMI was sold to BA, those on the trip who had booked with BMI were retained their trip details, but those – like me – who had booked with Lufthansa had to change their schedule. Lufthansa were obliged to fly me if they could, and offered a number of scenic tours of Germany by air. I took the “via Munich” option because it was at the most civilised option – I only had to be at Heathrow by 5:30 am.
We eventually reached Munich. This is much like Heathrow (except bigger, obviously, to make room for all the overweight Germans) – full of foreigners, and with all the advertisements in English – none featuring David Beckham, though.
Finally, Hannover, and a meeting with the rest of the group, and a longish coach trip to Zellerfeld, a small town tucked into what used to be the South-East corner of West Germany.

Day 1

The programme for today was to go to the event centre and “do” the model event sprint. This rather alarmed me, as it seemed an unnecessary waste of energy, but Tom Edelsten assured me that it probably would be worthwhile having a walk around to see what the controls looked like, and see how the area compared with the map. I decided that I might manage a few controls, but we eventually visited all eighteen, along with Richard Almon of Wessex OC. There were lots of runners actually running round the area in o-gear, so presumably they didn’t stop at the ice cream shop along the High Street, in which case they missed a treat. We also called at a supermarket for Tom to buy all the stuff that he had forgotten to pack. I prepared several pithy comments about his memory but decided that it would be better not to mention them, in case he noticed me later at the event centre buying the track suit bottoms that I had forgotten.

Day 2

This was Sprint Qualification day. I was in a state of considerable agitation. There were about 440 M65s, so we were divided into heats of about 75, in each of which the top 14 went into the A final, the next 14 into the B final etc. On the one hand, Tom in the past usually made the A final, and I usually beat Tom in urban races, but on the other hand, how could I possibly manage the top 14 of 75 in a field of the cream of the world’s M65s?
The agitation was not helped by misunderstanding the German call-up system and arriving a minute late, then my ecard refused to show that it had cleared for a while, then we started in line astern in a narrow underpass, so I could not get going until everyone in front of me had got out of my way – which they did quickly, fortunately.
As I picked off my first few controls, I relaxed a bit, as there were orienteers running everywhere until control 7, which was described as a vegetation boundary, near to some distinctive trees. Everything looked like distinctive trees to me, and a lot of them had controls by them, and it took me three attempts to punch correctly. The route to the next control was the first bit of real uphill, and I wondered whether it was really worth the effort to run up, but I did, and finished without further problems, but still with a knot in my stomach. Being an early starter, I was fifth when the first set of results went up, but by the time the final set went up, I had only sunk to a triple tie for thirteenth place, which means I made the A final, by a margin of one second!

Day 3

This was the Sprint final day. In contrast to Day 2, I was completely relaxed, as even if I came last, I would have achieved my target. As we waited, it started to rain, and I realised that my visor was either back at the hotel or back at home, neither of which was ideal. Fortunately, it occurred to me that money would solve this problem, so I bought another one.
My route choice and execution was perfect, and I would have won the Gold medal except forty six other M65s also had perfect route choice and execution, and could run faster than me. Still – 47th in the world! – I now know what “over the moon” feels like!

Sprint Final finish

Day 4

This morning, we went to a model Long Distance event. Most of the group took their o-gear with the idea of going for a run round the forest. I was resolute in my refusal about this, and decided that I would walk to the marked finish, this being nearer than the marked start. However, someone said that there were magnificent views from the top of the rock pillar which was control 31 at the extreme edge of the map furthest from the start, and uphill all the way; I decided to walk there – slowly. I was amazed by the number of orienteers running around – some presumably had only one o-top for the week, as they were still wearing their numbers.

Day 5

This was the first Long Distance qualification day. I was quite relaxed for this, as I only had ambitions to make the C final. The map was full of complex contours (my weakest point, I thought) and rock features (which I discovered were in fact my weakest point). At several controls, I was reduced to noting the M65s on the number bibs and running in the same direction in the hope of finding the right boulder.
In spite of this, my major cock-up was a relatively simple leg where I chose the wrong route to the control, and then got lost on it at that, costing me about ten minutes. I was on target for the C final as per my ambition; nevertheless, without the error, I would have been on target for the B final.
In the evening, I asked Nick Barrable how he would have tackled the problem legs. He was very helpful, particularly about dealing with rock features, but it was clear that not only is he (a lot) faster than me, but he can visualise a map in a way that I cannot, and can keep track of where he is in the forest in a way that I cannot. Depressing, really!

Day 6

This was the second Long Distance qualification day. I found this a lot easier than Day 1, as there were no rock features, and did much better, but so did everyone else, and I was no nearer the B final after the results were in than before.

Day 7

A rest day – we visited a couple of small German towns, including Wernigerode in what was East Germany. It was a bit sobering seeing a sign where the boundary fence used to be, and then, after another 500 metres or so, seeing another sign, the area between being the death zone where any East German seen there would have been shot. Wernigerode was a generally attractive town with a magnificent schloss, largely rebuilt in their equivalent of Victorian Gothic. Osterode was another typical town, which had most of its mediaeval walls, which we walked round – or did we go there on Day 4? Finally, we visited the Rammelsberg mining museum, and walked round that. I probably walked about five miles in total, a definition of “rest” of which I was not previously aware.

Day 8

This was the Long Distance final. We were parked among the slag heaps by a quarry, but the event was in the adjacent forest. There were more rock features than Day 6, but I used them positively, in that I noticed them AND tried to work out where they were on the map AND got it right. Result!

Day 9

Much like Day 1 in reverse, except that I returned via Frankfurt, where we spent so long in the plane waiting for a slot at Heathrow (which had been temporarily shut because of a thunderstorm) that I was still in Germany after others in the group had arrived home!


John Duffield



38, 37, 33


Sally Pribul

56, 56, 55


Tim Pribul



39, 43, 37


Ruby Campbell



34, 26, 25

Robin Campbell



52, 30, 45

Alex Kerr



mp, 16

B13 (n/c)

Tom Edelsten



16, 38, 22


Column 1 – Sprint Qualification position

Column 2 – Sprint Final and position

Column 3 – Long Distance Qualification, Day 1 position, Day 2 position,
overall position

Column 4 – Long Distance Final and position