Saturday, February 28, 2015

AOM 2015: Hubmann and Mironova win Middle, Michiels and Mironova the best in Sprint

Daniel Hubmann and Svetlana Mironova were the big winners of the Middle Distance WRE stage, the most important of this edition of Andalucia O' Meeting, held this morning. In the afternoon, in a Sprint also counting for the World Ranking, Mironova repeated the triumph in the Women Elite, while Yannick Michiels was the winner in Men Elite.

After a particularly participated Prologue that had in the Norwegian Siri Ulvestad (Nydalens SK) and the British Murray Strain (Interlopers) the winners in the Elite classes, the Andalucia O' Meeting 2015's most expected moment arrived this morning, with the dispute of the Middle Distance WRE stage. With 6.8 km and 25 controls in the Men Elite class and 5.4 km and 21 controls in the Women Elite class, the stage was run on the map of Cartaya forest, at Punta Umbría's surroundings, having the participation of 779 athletes in the competition classes, to whom we must add close to a hundred athletes in the Open classes.

Considered as the big favourites, the Swiss Daniel Hubmann (Kristiansand OK) and the Russian Svetlana Mironova (KooVee) were the big winners. Hubmann fulfilled his course in 32:44, having dominated the race completely from the 8th control to the finish. The Latvian Edgars Bertuks (TuMe) still came to lead the race, but an error of more than one minute to the 8th control turned out to be fatal to his aspirations. Bertuks would finish third, 2:02 after Hubmann, while the second position would be to the British Alasdair McLeod (Clydeside Orienteers), with a time of 34:23. Another highlight is the excellent result of the Portuguese Tiago Gingão Leal (GD4C), 8th placed with the time of 36:59. In the Women Elite class, Svetlana Mironova did a race not absent of mistakes – she lost two minutes in the two long legs -, winning with a time of 34:53, ahead of the Finnish Heini Saarimäki (Angelniemen Ankkuri), by the margin of 13 seconds. Marttiina Joensuu (SK Pohjantähti), with a time of 35:29, finished third, while the best Portuguese athlete in this class, Raquel Costa (GafanhOri), achieved a very creditable 9th place with a time of 38:18. A word to the Portuguese Manuel Dias (Lisbon OK), winner of the H60 class and to the 3rd place of Roy Dawson (GafanhOri) in the H65 class.

Held in the urban center of Punta Umbría, the Sprint stage took over the competitive program in the afternoon, having in the Belgian Yannick Michiels (TuMe) the big winner in the Men Elite class with 14 minutes to 3.5 km and 20 controls. The British Scott Fraser (TuMe) and Alasdair McLeod finished by this order in the immediate positions, with more 8 and 20 seconds, respectively, than the winner. Tiago Gingão Leal repeated the 8th place of the morning stage, having spent over 1:10 than the winner and quoting again as the best Portuguese. In the Women Elite class, Svetlana Mironova didn't give the chance to the concurrence again, fulfilling her course of 2.9 km and 15 controls in 13:51, against 13:55 of the British Ruth Holmes (Southern Navigators), second placed. The third position was occupied by the Norwegian Marte Narum, with 20 seconds more than the winner. Raquel Costa was again the best Portuguese athlete, concluding in the 11th place with a time of 15:15. The Sprint stage counted with the participation of 527 athletes, 500 in the competition classes and the rest in the Open class.

Full results and further information at

[Photo: Andalucia O Meeting /]

Joaquim Margarido

Thursday, February 26, 2015

AOM 2015: Ready!

Tomorrow, by 3:40 p.m. in Spain, will start the Andalucia O' Meeting 2015, one of the most prestigious events of the winter season in Spain. Within a strong cartel - which includes, among others, Daniel Hubmann, second placed in the IOF's World Ranking -, Portugal is represented by 23 athletes, including some of the great values of our national orienteering.

For the second time in a row, the coastal town of Punta Umbría welcomes the Andalucia O' Meeting 2015, an event that is already an Orienteering reference in Spain and all over the world in the beginning of each season. Second event scoring for the Spanish Foot Orienteering League 2015, the AOM 2015 is organized by the Sun-O and the Ayuntamiento of Punta Umbría, with the support of the Tourism Provincial Patronate, the Consistorio and the Junta de Andalucía.

With 890 entries from 24 countries (numbers to whom must be added the participants in the open classes) the AOM 2015  starts tomorrow afternoon with the Prologue, in a fun format - “mass start”, two formal legs and two 'score' legs, alternately -, followed by three stages during the weekend. On Saturday will take place the stages of Middle Distance (in the morning) and Sprint (from 4.30 p.m. local time), both scoring for the respective IOF's World Rankings. The AOM 2015 ends on Sunday with the Long Distance stage. The Middle Distance WRE's course setter is Cristian Bellotto, the same of the WOC's Middle Distance that was awarded with the “Course of the Year 2014” prize, sponsored by World of O.

The Portuguese are present

Among the favourites, the highlights goes to the IOF's World Ranking nº 2, the Swiss Daniel Hubmann, reaching Punta Umbria with his 16 medals in World Championships (three silver medals in 2014) and 10 in European Championships (two golds at the European in Palmela). The major opponents of the Swiss will be the Latvian Edgars Bertuks, the Belgian Yannick Michiels, the British Scott Fraser and the young Russian Gleb Tikhonov. True helmsman of the “Spanish Army”, Andreu Blanes will be the big star of this great “casting”. Currently Long Distance World Champion and European Vice-Champion, Svetlana Mironova is the biggest name in the female sector, having the Norwegian Marianne Andersen and Siri Ulvestad as her biggest opponents.

In Punta Umbria will be, also, a little more than two dozen Portuguese athletes, namely Tiago Martins Aires and Raquel Costa, both from GafanhOri and Tiago Gingão Leal and Carolina Delgado, from the GD4C. Miguel Reis e Silva will be another Portuguese athlete at the AOM 2015 here representing his Finnish club of Turun Metsänkävijät.

For more detailed information, please see the event page at

[Photo: Ayuntamiento de Punta Umbria /]

Joaquim Margarido

Two or three things I know about it...

1. The first orienteering competition in Czech Republic (then Czechoslovakia) was held in Zlín, in 1950. The Zlín Cup has been organised ever since, and it is therefore one of the oldest orienteering competitions still regularly staged. To celebrate the 65th anniversary of Czech orienteering competitions, an orienteering history exhibition is being held in Zlín, Czech Republic. Compiled by Jan Žemlík, the man behind the first orienteering museum in the world, the Centre for Orienteering History, the exhibition shows Czech and international orienteering from its beginning to today. It includes orienteering gear, club and region chronicles from the 1950s onwards, medals, prizes, compasses, stamps – anything that has to do with orienteering. And what would an exhibition be without maps? A copy of the map of the first orienteering competition in Norway in 1897 was presented, as well as the original map of the first Czech competition in 1950. This article – from which this is just a part - was written by Anna Jacobsson and it's just one of many presented in the Inside Orienteering's last issue. If you didn't read it yet, please don't lose. Everything to see at

2. “Imagine you are part of a gigantic mass start, together with your club mates, friends and runners from across the world. Your fear of the dark vanishes when the race starts and the pack of runners sprints towards the forest. Thousands of flickering headlamps set fire to the forest. The heroes of orienteering are conquering a spectacular Norwegian wood. It is dark and it is magic”. It's in this way that “Night Hawk” is presented, trying to be the answer from Norway Orienteering to the Swedish “Tiomila” and the Finnish “Jukola” in having a big international night relay. “We want the athletes, clubs, regions and federation create an international relay adventure on Norwegian ground. This will be an arrangement and an experience that will form basis for the next generation’s orienteering”, says Anders Tiltnes, the man behind the “Night Hawk”. Formerly known as “Krokskogstafetten”, the “Night Hawk” was a huge relay in the 1970's in Oslo region. Everyone in Norway participated, and only the toughest Swedes has finished it. The Finns only heard the rumours of it. Gathering youth, women and men to a prestigious experience in a challenging and fun terrain, “Night Hawk” 's third edition will be held in Asker, the 14t and 15th August. “Our dream is to continue the work started by our ancestors and create orienteering for the next generation. Don’t be mediocre. Become a Night Hawk.” To know more about the event, please visit the webpage at

3. Ending an international cycle of four events in a row, with stages scoring for the IOF World Rankings, the Peneda-Geres National Park held the Minho Orienteering Trophy 2015 - WRE. Organized by .COM – Clube de Orientação do Minho, with the support of the Municipalities of Terras do Bouro and Vieira do Minho, Portuguese Orienteering Federation and International Orienteering Federation, the event had the participation of nearly six hundred athletes from 16 nations. In the Men Elite class, Luis Silva (ADFA) was the big winner of the Middle Distance stage on the first day, while the victory in the second stage, a long Long Distance, belonged to Sergej Fedatsenka (SAIK). Despite having not tasted the victory in any of the stages, Tiago Martins Aires turned out to be the winner thanks to his 3rd place in the opening stage and a 2nd place closing his participation. Fedatsenka would become the second placed while the third position would be for the Brazilian Fabio Kuczkoski (ADAAN). Great name of the Portuguese Mountain Bike Orienteering, João Ferreira (CAB) would become the second best Portuguese, finishing in 5th place overall. In the Women Elite class, the Finnish Saila Kinni was unstoppable, winning both stages by overwhelming margins. Her compatriot, Yvonne Gunell, finished second overall, followed by the Belarusian Anastasia Denisova. Taking the 5th position overall, Raquel Costa was the best Portuguese. All information and full results at

Joaquim Margarido

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Martin Hubmann: "My dream is to win an individual medal once"

To the seventh place in the most important stage of the Portugal O' Meeting - the Long Distance WRE, on the third day –, he added the seventh place overall. On his return to Portugal, Martin Hubmann talks about his experience and shares his big dream.

How do you evaluate the POM 2015?

Martin Hubmann (M. H.) - I enjoyed it a lot. As always, we could see really nice, well organized competitions, good terrains and nice maps. I’ve already been here twice, in the coastal terrains and with similar competition maps, so I knew what to expect. I like mostly the maps in the mountains, with all those rocks and the challenge of more route choices instead of running straight, but it was nice as a basic Training Camp.

Are you happy with your results?

M. H. - My goal wasn’t to win the Portugal O’ Meeting. I tried to focus on two races – well, I didn’t win that (laughs) -, but it is okay. I don’t do too much orienteering in the winter, so it's not about the shape now. I’m getting back on the maps and I think it worked really well. The season will start in May with some important competitions, so there’s still a lot of time for training. We’ll soon have another Training Camp in Spain, it's a matter of trying to fix things.

What's the big goal for the season?

M. H. - The World Championships in Scotland will be my main focus. It’s always a challenge, I have to be ready to get a place in the Swiss Team, so I need to be well prepared for the World Cup in June, in Norway and Sweden, because the test races will be there.

Is it in your plans to take the victory in the WOC's Sprint Mixed Relay?

M. H. - As a defending champion, it would be nice to be on the podium again, but, of course, my dream is to win an individual medal once. I don’t know if it will be already this year, but that’s my goal.

Excuse me for asking you this but… Do you feel in the shadow of your brother?

M. H. - When you ask it like that, yes (laughs). But it’s also an advantage to have a brother like Daniel, because I learn so much from him. He was also coaching me when I was a Junior, we still have a lot in common, we discuss a lot and I think we both take profit on it. Many people ask me the same question but I don’t care. I’m proud of having such a brother.

Do you dream of being also the nº1?

M. H. - In the family (laughs)?

World's nº 1, I mean. After all, what does your brother have that you don't?

M. H. - I think there’s still a physical gap to him, I’m not that fast yet. But that’s all about time and training. Of course, he’s more secure on the map than I am. It’s a matter of experience, mostly.

In the beginning of a new season, I would like to ask you for a wish to all orienteers.

M. H. - To those guys who do Orienteering, that are training and having fun, try to improve your shape and don’t get injured, because this is the most important. Otherwise, it sucks. It’s nice to be healthy, to go into the forest and to do orienteering.

Joaquim Margarido

Monday, February 23, 2015

MCO Israel 2015: Spain wins for the fourth time

For the fourth year in a row, Spain was the winner of the Mediterranean Championships in Orienteering, followed by the host country Israel, and Turkey in third position. Individually, the distribution of wins was well balanced, with the Spanish Anna Serralonga being the biggest name of the Championships.

The Jezreel Valley, next to the historic Israeli city of Nazareth, hosted the 4th edition of the Mediterranean Championships in Orienteering. Held in conjunction with the Israel Open Championships, the event included a Sprint, a Long Distance and a Middle Distance, the last two stages scoring for the IOF World Ranking. Special reference to the fact that the Championships have counted with the participation of about four hundred athletes representing 21 nations, which was the highest number ever in an Orienteering event in that country of the Middle East.

After a devastating beginning of the Spanish team in the Sprint stage, with four wins and three second places in the four competition classes (M21/W21 and M20/W20), the Long Distance was marked by baddly atmospheric condictions, with many athletes to see their wishes in a good result going literally down the drain, including the Spanish Andreu Blanes and Raul Ferra, disqualified for "mp". However, the victories of Marta Guijo (W20), Alvaro Prieto (M20) and Ona Rafols (W21) ensured to Spain a margin of some comfort before the departure to the last stage.

In the Long Distance stage, the Israeli athletes were very well placed, while Spain couldn't count again with Blanes and Ferra at their best. The triumph of Anna Serralonga in this last act turned out to be decisive, ensuring to Spain the title for the fourth time in four editions of the Championships. Israel, Turkey, Serbia and Italy concluded by this order in the immediate positions. Serbia will host the competition next year, which will be held from 23rd to 26th June.

For more information, please consult the event's official website at

[Photo: D. Ravid /]

Joaquim Margarido

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Alasdair McLeod: "This is a very big year to Scotland"

“So on the fourth day he rested from all his work ..." This is how Alasdair MacLeod managed his participation in the Portugal O' Meeting 2015. Winner of the three first stages in the Men Elite class, the Scot had the well-earned rest on the last day. A nice victory, although the athlete's great desire of running in the Super Elite class.

Are you unhappy for not being able to run in the Men Super Elite class?

Alasdair McLeod (A. McL.) - No, I'm happy. I just feel that I was very unlucky last year, I was injured, I couldn't run any World Ranking Events and I had a very low score. But the rules are the rules for everyone. Still I enjoyed the comparison between Men Elite and Men Super Elite but, of course, I would be pleased to run in the Men Super Elite if I could.

Did you think you could have won here as easily as you did?

A. McL. - My original plan was I expected to run here in Super Elite and I really wanted some good World Ranking points in Portugal. So my plan was to rest most of the days and not run them all, but when I ended up in Men Elite I decided I wanted to try to win as many as I could.

You planned to become year in this time of the season. Why Portugal?

A. McL. - These are the first races out in the Winter. I've done lots of winter training during the last three months and I really wanted an opportunity. We've been here for one week now with the Scotland Team, this is our second weekend of races, we did a training camp in the middle and this is the first great chance with quality events to get your technique and also because there are so many international people coming to Portugal races at this time of the winter. It's great competitions to see where you are, how fit you are, how your technique is. It's a great stage post before the season and some of the bigger races in Spring and Summer to see where you are.

Are you happy with your decision? What notes do you take from here?

A. McL. - It was a great decision and I've been very happy. This is the best I've run in a very long time, so at the moment I've got everything I wanted out of this Portugal trip.


A. McL. - Very motivated. This is a very big year to Scotland, the World Championships will be in Scotland and I'll try to be there. There's a lot of british people who are training very hard, that wanted very good results because it's a “home Championship” and, personally, I live very near from where the terrains are so, for me, it feels even more of a “home Championships” and I want to be there.

What do you need to go there?

A. McL. - I think that I need, in the next few months, more good orienteering trainings and to stay healthy and not injured would also be good in the next six months. It's the most important thing, yes, you have to actually be there on your top shape, you don't want to miss any training or self consistency.

How is the Bristish Team?

A. McL. - The british people are all very excited about this year. It's a very good team attitude, out of all the British Team a lot of people have known each other for a long time. It doesn't matter who ends up in the team, because everyone is training so well at the moment that whoever ends up there will be in a very good place to do well. There's a big sort of team feeling and support. It's not so much about individuals, it's about achieving as a group, which makes it much more fun.

What will be your intermediate steps until the World Championships?

A. McL. - After Portugal there's a really big race called the JK Orienteering Festival, in April. It will be, actually, a big international event because some teams are using it as test races before the World Championships and it's also our first british test race. We have multiple stages of British test races and that is the first one. And then the World Cups, later, in Norway and Sweden will be big races, and these will be the main events before the World Championships.

Are we going to see you in Portugal in the next years?

A. McL. - I think this is my third or fourth time in Portugal in the past five years and I really like it here. There are a lot of terrains that can be very complicated but you can still move very fast. It's great for orienteering and I think I will definitely be back next year.

Joaquim Margarido

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Norte Alentejano O' Meeting: The five elements!

What mystery is this, leading hundreds of people to abandon their “comfort zone”, year after year, facing the winter and heading to Portugal to participate in the Norte Alentejano O’ Meeting? The answer comes in the five fingers: Water, Earth, Sun, Stone and ... Orienteering!

Written by Joaquim Margarido

It was in 2007 that the Norte Alentejano O’ Meeting presented its credentials for the first time. Its beginning was in a bet made by Grupo Desportivo dos Quatro Caminhos, and since the very start one became aware of the orienteering potential of this inner region of Portugal. There was a perfect match between the ambitions of the northern club to move forward, and the proposal to put the Norte Alentejo region on the world orienteering map The municipality of Nisa was successively joined by Castelo de Vide, Alter do Chão, Crato, Portalegre and Marvão, changing the initial dream into an undeniable reality: the Norte Alentejano O’ Meeting is, today, an acclaimed event worldwide, both for its technical quality and organisational capacity.

Over nine editions, NAOM grew and consolidated itself. It incorporated the National Championships Sprint and Middle Distance in 2008 and 2012, and has been an IOF World Ranking Event six times. In 2011 it was part of the Portugal O’ Meeting – one of the prestigious events of the regular winter calendar - with the presence of all the world’s best athletes without exception. And last but not least, it has consistently contributed to the promotion and affirmation of Portugal, and in particular the Norte Alentejo region, as a tourist and sports destination of excellence, especially in the winter.

Training Camps complete the offer

To wander through this region of Portugal is to meet with ancient times when the first men settled here, making these lands into their “safe haven”. From prehistory to the Roman civilization, from the Arab and medieval period to the present day, art and culture have strolled hand in hand with a preserved landscape of great beauty, appealing to the good taste and the feelings of each. Reasons why Maria Gabriela Tsukamoto, former Mayor of Nisa, claims that “much more than the courses planned on the maps, more than practising a sport, more than a healthy relationship between the visitors and the locals ... the participants in the NAOM find here endless beauty, spread over a vast natural and architectural heritage.”

The charms from a cultural and landscape angle, combined with a unique gastronomy - where the wine, olive oil and herbs imposed themselves as excellent complements - are major attributes of this region. But to the competitor there, alongside the great competition, there are Training Camps of excellence. Founded in late 2011 by Fernando Costa, a man with great experience in the sports associations and event organization, Orievents has the goal to organise events and to promote orienteering activities for schools and companies. It works jointly with entities related to disability, promotes the training of sports agents, does the communication and sponsorship of events and produces orienteering maps. But it’s in the Training Camps that lies one of Orievents’ biggest offerings, with a current offer of 21 training courses on forest maps and 7 on sprint maps, with many of these workouts created by renowned figures in world orienteering such as Eva Jurenikova, Philippe Adamski or Oleksandr Kratov.

Norte Alentejano O’ Meeting From 2007 to 2015

The Romanian Ionut Zinca and the Finn Riina Kuuselo were the first athletes to sign their names on the event’s Hall of Fame in 2007, opening a list that is growing year by year. The list already includes, among many others, names such as Simone Niggli of Switzerland, the Frenchman Thierry Gueorgiou, the Czech Eva Jurenikova, the Norwegian Olav Lundanes, the Swedish Helena Jansson and the Portuguese Tiago Romão. In 2015 it has been the turn of the Ukrainians Oleksandr Kratov and Nadiya Volynska to be acclaimed as the big winners of NAOM, after two days of high level competition that attracted over 700 participants from 15 different nations to Castelo de Vide and Marvão.

To Oleksandr Kratov this year’s NAOM was, “as always happens every time I travel to Portugal, a nice experience. I really enjoyed the courses and the terrain as well. Also the maps were great. Nowadays, the terrain is extremely well mapped, the maps are perfectly readable and it’s a pure joy to run and read them. It’s amazing.” The athlete concluded by saying that NAOM 2015 was “exactly what I was looking for: really nice terrain, high quality maps, really good competition and a top level organisation.”

Nadiya Volynska also made a very positive summary of her participation in the 2015 edition of NAOM and in particular the second stage: “I really enjoyed the courses – in a very detailed terrain, greener than usual – so I had to work on my strategy. I had to be more careful, not run too straight, find some around route choices, and it worked. The placement of the controls was something that pleased me a lot, along with the infinity of route choices offered.” Regarding the victory itself, Volynska remarks that “It was very motivating”, adding that, “it was time to take a test race more seriously, pushing hard most of the time and I think that I succeeded.” Also a word to the organisation: “the best there is, at the level of major events in Scandinavia”, she concludes.

To learn more about NAOM 2015, please visit

[See the original article in the IOF's newsletter Inside Orienteering, at Published with permission from the International Orienteering Federation]

Friday, February 20, 2015

Bruno Nazário: "I want to congratulate the whole team"

The Portugal O 'Meeting 2015 is over. As the Arena goes empty, the Orientovar meets Bruno Nazario, the Event Director, asking for the balance of the most participated POM ever.

I think I see
, in any Director of an event of this magnitude, an inner conflict that is recurrent. On the one hand, the natural relieved breath after intense and exhausting days; on the other, a certain nostalgia for the lived moments and some sadness to see all these people leaving. Is it really so, Bruno?

Bruno Nazario (B. N.) - In fact, I think the main feeling at the moment is of accomplished duty, to understand that a large team spent a year working, giving a wonderful contribution to a Portugal O’ Meeting at this level. I'm sure that all the people who passed through here were tickled with the technical level, with the availability, with these arenas... There was a Finnish athlete who has come to the POM for many years and has made a point of congratulating us saying that we really took a step further, that now he feels the great events’ atmosphere. I think we really achieved that goal but, as I say, this is not work of mine, only, it is the work of a large team of which I am only part and to which I am grateful, because without them this Portugal O’ Meeting would not really be what it was. But there is also a feeling of some regret that, being absorbed with the most varied tasks, we are not able to enjoy properly the party, we cannot spend more time with all those who visited us.

Taking a bit on these last words, what did you miss that you regret the most?

B. N. - Well, by my position during these days, in the role of 'speaker', I ended up being in all the most important moments. Hence my words are directed more to other people, and in particular to António Aguiar, the responsible for all the logistics and that, during the course in Mira, he was already in Vagos, rising the Arena structure for the following days. A very special word to him, to all the people who were at the bar, the people who were in the kitchen, in the starts, in the parking, who didn’t have the chance or the privilege that I had to be able to be in Arena and follow the highest moments. I want to congratulate the whole team, who knew how to be supportive, fulfilling their work in the best way.

What was the most exciting moment of POM 2015?

B. N. - I think the most exciting is to see the joy and pleasure shining in the face of all the athletes, happy with this organization and all the work that Ori-Estarreja prepared to them over the last year.I thought that you would talk about the resounding victory of Minna Kauppi in the WRE stage ... (laughs) But how did you saw this POM from a viewpoint of the "pure and hard" competition?

B. N. - This was perhaps the year where, in the female sector, we saw the most homogeneous group ever in the history of Portugal O’ Meeting. We had really good athletes, Mari Fasting, Minna Kauppi - Minna Kauppi who has more than ten world titles, after Simone Niggli she is the big 'superstar' - Riina Kuuselo, Saila Kinni, Sofia Haajanen... With this valuable range of athletes, the victory of Minna Kauppi is really spectacular, showing that she's back. In the men obviously we are very sorry that Thierry Gueorgiou has not been with us, but his absence allowed to slightly open the range of candidates to the final victory, showing at the same time some stars for the future, such as Aaro Asikainen or Gernot Kerschbaumer. It was also a pity that Gustav Bergman got sick, as the same with Annika Billstam, Philippe Adamski, Amélie Chataing and others, yet the competitive level was very high.

The Portugal O 'Meeting moves next year to the Beira Interior, to Penamacor, by the hands of the Clube de Orientação do centro, taking an even heavier responsibility after what we have seen in Mira and Vagos.

B. N. - When organizing an event of this nature, the Ori-Estarreja demands that the following organizations could have a good handover. Our wish is that athletes who leave from here are already with their eyes on Penamacor, recognizing in the POM a high level event and wanting to return next year. I am sure that COC will do a fantastic job. The terrains chosen for POM 2016 are very good and we have gathered all the ingredients to continue with these high numbers of participants.

You're about to lose the one that was your entertainment along a long year. How will you be in 2015, personally?

B. N. Personally, 2015 will be more devoted to my family, with a special word to Cristina, who was able to support me all this time.

Joaquim Margarido

Thursday, February 19, 2015

WTOC 2015: Terms of Endearment

They were born in different countries, at 1000 km distance from each other, and they followed separate careers. But fate wanted them together, and this was possible thanks to Orienteering. Married, with a child, Damir and Ivana Gobec are more involved than ever in their sport. Prominent figures in the organising committee of the 2015 World Trail Orienteering Championships, they tell us how much the event is demanding from them.

Written by Joaquim Margarido
Photo by Joaquim Margarido

Damir Gobec 
Graduated from Faculty of Kinesiology (Zagreb)

Born in 1972 in Niederbipp, Switzerland
IOF FootO Event Adviser, IOF TrailO Event Adviser
International Professional Alpine Skiing teacher (ISIA Card License)
Couple of times National Champion in FootO and once in TrailO

Ivana Gobec
Born in 1973 in Zagreb, Croatia
Graduated from Faculty of Architecture (Zagreb)
IOF FootO Event Adviser, IOF TrailO Event Adviser International
Alpine Skiing teacher (IVSI Licence)
The only one being National Champion in FootO and TrailO in the same year

Married in 2002, one son: Jan Gobec (12 y.o.)

Damir was born in Switzerland in the early1970s. His parents were deeply involved in orienteering in Croatia, and he followed in their footsteps. Ivana was in sport as a gymnast first, and as a long distance runner later. Until the age of 22 she didn’t have any connections with Orienteering. Then, one beautiful day, she was running down the mountain when a man put a flyer in her hands with a proposal about joining an orienteering club. She was curious. Together with his brother, Damir founded this club, OK Vihor, in 1985 and since then he has hardly missed an event in Croatia.

After her first experiences and with the precious help of her former club, Runolist, Ivana was soon integrated into the National Military Team, (by Damir’s brother, Karlo), not because she was a great orienteer, but because she was fast.

“Yes, we met each other at some of the orienteering events”, says Damir, answering the obvious question. He explains: “As I was team leader of the Military CISM team at that time and she was a team member, we started talking more often, training together, organising events together.”

Ivana confirms, but adds a little gossip: “The funny thing is that we still don’t agree about when we first met. I remember that we organised the first Sprint FootO events, when Sprint still wasn’t official. I was doing the same kind of things in Runolist that Damir was doing in Vihor, and we didn’t always agree with each other (same as now). I became suspicious of him when he started spending more time at my club than at his.”

TrailO: A motivational shock

Trail orienteering is another story. In 2004, the Croatian Orienteering Team was represented at the very first World Trail Orienteering Championships (WTOC) in Sweden by only one participant. In 2005, Damir and Ivana went to Japan and tried the WTOC course for spectators. They solved the tasks separately but, joined together, their correct answers hardly reached half of the total number. That came as a motivational shock for them: “We thought we knew everything about orienteering, yet a whole new universe was opened up to us”, Damir and Ivana admit. Together with friends from their clubs, it took three more years to get things going. It was in 2008 that Croatia first had a full team to participate in WTOC.

In 2008, in the Czech Republic, a funny episode happened, something that still remains at the back of our minds as a mark of Croatia ‘s TrailO Team. Damir Gobec tells us how it was: “The first contact with the TrailO community was on the day of our arrival. At dinner we met the British team. We were too noisy and wearing whitered squared T-shirts. They were looking at us with curiosity. After a short while one of them said: ‘Croatia! We don’t know anything about you.’ And a guy from our team instantly replied, with a grin: ‘In three days you will know something.’ On the last day, Zdenko Horjan won the first-ever IOF medal for Croatia. Since then, Croatia has won at least one medal in every WTOC competition. It is a nice tradition which we will try to keep going for as long as possible.”

Until one beautiful day …

We all know how orienteers are when they have an idea. Damir and Ivana are no different, and they didn’t rest until they put it into practice. Everything began with a simple question, maybe like this: What if we applied to organise the 2015 World Trail Orienteering Championships, here in Croatia? Damir Gobec leaves some clues: “It is hard to define the exact moment when the idea came to our minds, but we were preparing the application for the South East European Championships in foot orienteering. We had already made a presentation in Moldova during the annual meeting, when we heard the news that Great Britain would not organise the TrailO Championships in 2015. At that time we prepared some documents for the Turkish delegation, so they made the application with our help. We even gave some lectures at their University, in Izmir, but the plan unfortunately didn’t work.”

The point was: Did Croatia have enough people for the major tasks? Damir, again: “We knew that we had the knowledge, and we were ready to seek more volunteers. Our main question was, would we be able to organise it in Croatia due to the lack of financing and time. A very big issue was that a lot of time had passed, nobody had applied and there were only two years left for the preparation of WTOC instead of four.” Suddenly, Damir started to put everything on paper and at OK Vihor’s meeting they decided to go for it with what they had, meaning older maps and used terrains. Owe Fredholm gave his word of support, and after a while they got the support from the Croatian Orienteering Federation.

But things then developed in a different way. So, what was changed from the original idea? “An ordinary trailO competition wasn’t what we wanted any more. Zdenko wanted new terrain and original ideas. Ivana didn’t like the quality of the old maps (some being her own). Suddenly there came the opportunity to use Lidar data for the first time around Zagreb. There was a bunch of new factors”, Damir concludes.

What will WTOC 2015 be like?

“On the technical side we will have brand new maps, partially unusual terrain, an excellent course planner, respected IOF Advisers and a large number of enthusiasts, coming not only from the orienteering world.

We hope to introduce some new features, for example we will try to make a special ceremony in Karlovac for all competitors who qualify for the TempO Finals. We will have the public watching the finish at the TempO Finals. We will also provide open events on the same courses as for WTOC. There will be a FootO Sprint event for the Croatian Cup at Karlovac organised by a supporting club, OC Jelen, and we will try to provide a ‘sprint’ course for visitors and wheelchair users focused on sightseeing in Karlovac. Prior to WTOC there will be a round of the unofficial European Cup for TrailO (ECTO) organized by the supporting club OC Medimurje in the neighbouring area Varaždin.

But we really hope that the atmosphere will make the difference from past WTOCs, with the focus of the whole community being on TrailO. We know that IOF policy is to have joined FootO and TrailO Championships, but on many occasions we have had a really bad experience, being put to one side and behind the scenes. On some occasions, medals have been presented in a non-appropriate way. We will finally have the time to properly acclaim the winners of the TrailO competitions.”

Damir Gobec

The Gobecs

But if the challenge within the club OK Vihor, even with the stated wariness, was tacitly accepted, how have things been in this much more closed and constrained core, the Gobec family? Damir is the first to answer: “We talked a lot about it, and I have to admit that without Ivana this event wouldn’t happen. Her will to make all the maps at her highest quality level gives us the energy we needed to go further. Of course we have had some hard times when everything hasn’t gone as we planned and where there’s been no line between private life, professional work and work in the club. It’s not easy to manage it all together.”

Ivana also had something to say about it: “No, it wasn’t hard to convince me to start because I love it. It was harder to find a way to do everything, because I don’t make my living by map-making. At the moment the economy in Croatia is suffering and there is a lack of jobs, so my flexible boss has let me go away for a while.”

“It will be challenging for my husband to convince me to work all the time at this level. At the beginning we didn’t plan so many brand new maps; these now include three for Pre-WTOC events, one extra area because of the storm, and one extra for back-up. I am also surprised that we didn’t have to coerce any controllers into doing the job; both being mapmakers, Vladimir Tkalec and Tomislav Kaniški responded immediately before we started searching, and both Vibeke Vogelius and Lauri Kontkanen (Senior Event Adviser and Assistant Senior Event Adviser respectively) wanted to be here.”

A “prominent vegetation feature”

Who is the most involved one of you two?

Damir Gobec: “At the moment we can say that Ivana is spending the greatest time in the terrain with map-making, sometimes assisted by me and IT support from the club, and followed by Zdenko’s sharp eye and high expectations. My work is mostly based on a lot of writing, lots of phone calls and meetings. We are working almost 100% on these Championships. I am looking forward for some time after WTOC, doing some other things which do not involve full-time orienteering stuff.”

Do you have any idea how many hours a day you spend on organising work?

Damir Gobec: “We do not count at all! Time varies depending on the type of work we do, but there are many days with 18 hours working.”

Ivana Gobec: “I can say I get up, live and go to sleep with maps, squeezing all the other aspects of my life in between. But it doesn’t only affect me. Last year I was driving my son somewhere when he jumped from the back seat screaming: ‘Look, mum, there’s a ‘prominent vegetation feature*’! It was a huge tree with a crooked tree-top.” (*exact terminology for ISSOM symbol no. 402)

Are there any international companies interested in supporting us?”

So far, the organisers of WTOC 2015 have received the solidarity and support of almost all Croatian clubs, in the form of an important volunteer “army”, something really good for Orienteering in Croatia. The WTOC organisers have also got support from the mayors of Zagreb and Karlovac, and some local institutions like Sports Associations, tourist boards, Croatian Forests... but unfortunately the economic crisis is getting bigger and bigger, and the fight continues. “Are there any international companies interested in supporting us?” asks Damir with a big smile.

The WTOC 2015 organising team has also had good feedback from the national controllers and from the IOF Event Advisers, and are ready to guarantee high standards in terms of technical challenge. Ivana has drawn the maps the same way she would like to have them as a competitor in a big international event. Almost everything is based on Lidar data and the survey is done for the entire terrain, not only around the tasks. Zdenko Horjan has already done his work on the controls and Damir talks about a set of tasks “both demanding and challenging”.

A pearl named Divjaca

We asked Ivana, as map-maker, to describe the terrain. And she doesn’t avoid the question: “When the final decision had to be made, although we are from Zagreb, we had only considered the city of Karlovac. We were sure that this beautiful little town near Zagreb would be perfect for what we needed. The mixture of parks, historic urban labyrinth, arboretum and river banks make for some very lively scenery.” Also the new private golf resort deserves her comments: “It is a completely closed terrain, with large lakes and chaotic hills around - something seen before, but also something that experienced orienteers ‘love to hate’. It is very challenging. We heard a couple of ‘Wow’s’ from our advisers and national controllers when they first visited the place.”

But there’s a third terrain, a special one, called Divjaca: “Although the golf terrain is huge, Zdenko didn’t want to have all the competitions look the same. So Damir and I went around seeking for something better than we had. We looked at more than ten different areas and didn’t succeed. Something was always missing. Lack of details, or too trivial views, or bad paths, or no facilities... We started to get desperate and almost returned to the ‘old’ terrain”. And then, the miracle happened (see story apart). “If there’s something different from what trailO competitors have ever seen before, it is Divjaca - with its continental forest, a terrain which will require some real map reading”, Ivana guarantees.

“The main goal for Croatia is to make TrailO visible and more popular”

What are your expectations, seeing the nations and the names that have entered up to now?

Damir Gobec - “At the moment we have 23 nations which have entered, including all the strongest teams. WTOC is a competition which can also give us some new names and we hope that it will be like that. In the teams there are a lot of past World Champions, so it will be hard to get or defend the title. In my opinion, a few things can decide the Champion, so it will be interesting to follow the event. Marit, Martin, Krešo, Jana, Ola, Stig, Lennart, Pinja, Jari, Anna ... a lot of well-known names who will have to give their best to beat the rest”.

What about Croatia? To play in your home country, could it be a positive factor in getting an individual title, or keeping the gold in the Team Competition?

Damir Gobec - “The good thing is that our team won the gold medal last year, so if they take a medal again, there wouldn’t be any talking behind the back. Then again, the focus of the public will be on them and they will be under some pressure. Although some of the ‘usual’ team members will be organising the Event, they are still just as strong a team. In my opinion, this year the main goal for Croatia is to make TrailO visible and more popular and if medals come again, that is just a big plus. We would of course like to see someone on the podium.”

The social side of WTOC

The WTOC is the biggest TrailO competition every year but, as always, it’s not just a competition. So we’ve tried to pick up some of the “must-dos” for those who will visit Karlovac and Zagreb in June. Damir Gobec takes us on a little journey, starting at Karlovac: “It is a very charming and peaceful city, situated around four rivers. If the weather is fine you will have the opportunity to go for a swim just beside the competition area! We love special pancakes there, so don’t miss them.”

As for Zagreb, Damir considers that “it is hard to pick just one attraction”. His recommendation goes to “the city centre and Tkalciceva Street in the evening.” There is also a recommendation to always eat local food instead of any fast-food. “If you manage to stay hungry in Croatia, then you are doing something wrong, because the food is delicious and there is a great variety of affordable local places to eat in. It is also possible to choose from numerous coffee shops at any time of the day”, Damir says. Given that Croatian Mediterranean food is pronounced nonmaterial world heritage protected by UNESCO, Damir’s advice is certainly good to follow. Cheers!

An “extremely positive” experience so far

The preparation work seems to be a “never ending story” but the experience, in personal terms, is proving extremely positive. Looking back, Damir and Ivana can still recall the “big project” which was the book they wrote about Orienteering. They also did a lot of map-making for local events, organised many orienteering events, gave regular lectures on different topics to all who were interested in orienteering, worked with kids, schools, universities… But nothing compares to the extent of involvement in organising the WTOC: “We have learnt a lot about ourselves and about organising, and many doors have opened. Every day we are meeting lots of people who otherwise we wouldn’t get to know, so it’s a huge experience in our lives”, Damir says.

And Ivana adds: “For me everything is just about personal challenge, if I can or can’t. And sometimes to see my husband happy (laughs)” ‘Would you do it again?’ is a good question. “We don’t know! We often think about the saying: A Japanese has to climb Mt. Fuji once in a lifetime. If he does it twice, he is a fool”, they say.

Wishes, advice and... a request

But there are still some reasons why Ivana remains a bit uncomfortable, things that can disturb her sleep. She explains: “Yes, we had two huge storms during the winter and they did a lot of damage in the forest. As a consequence of that, we had to change to a completely different area from the one I had been drawing for a whole month. Karlovac had the biggest flood in its history last summer, so we still have to make some changes there too. These are very disturbing things because you can’t control them. My fears are not about all the work that is planned, but the possible things that can’t be planned for. We have already taken some serious decisions, including having a back-up terrain. The main courses are ready; if needed they could be set up for tomorrow. We have the Model Event, Relay and ‘back-ups’ still in progress but, at the pace that things are going to be finished, I feel that I can have a better sleep.”

The last words contain a wish, as sincere and heartfelt as all that we could feel throughout this interview: “We wish, once you leave, you want to come back! During the competition, you had better be focused! But, after that, enjoy the atmosphere and give yourself some time to look around. Remember that the word most connected with Croatia on the internet is ‘beautiful’. Go to the Adriatic coast and visit the Plitvice lakes, which are a UNESCO site.” And still a guarantee, joined with a request: “We will do our best to make a good and fair competition and if you see some mistakes, please be gentle with us”.

A little game for the children

“The story about finding a third terrain is something special to me. I had already given up searching. One day I was alone and depressed, feeling just like a friend of ours, who was left at home with two small children. We went for a long walk to a place which was formerly a suburb of Zagreb. Being women, we just wanted to gossip, so I made a little game for the children as they didn’t want just to walk. Thinking there was probably nothing to find, I told them that I would make a big trailO competition there if they found twenty special features along the way. So they started running around like crazy, pointing to all kinds of features. Being born in an ‘orienteering family’ they were choosing all the right things. I realised that this wasn’t a joke any more, and immediately called Damir. The very next possible moment, we were there with a base map.

So, when you come to WTOC, please keep in mind that the terrain called Divjaca was picked by two very bright 7-year-old and 12-year-old children who took their task very seriously, and now we all have to keep the promise I gave too easily. To disappoint them would be the worst thing we could do. And yes, they will be there. They will be watching you, and some day you will be watching them.”

Ivana Gobec

[See the original article in the IOF's newsletter Inside Orienteering, at Published with permission from the International Orienteering Federation]

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

POM 2015: João Pedro Valente and Ricardo Pinto won PreO stage

João Pedro Valente and Ricardo Pinto were the big winners of the Invacare PreO, a stage of Trail Orienteering which was part of the competitive program of Portugal O' Meeting 2015. Offering great technical challenges and showing a high competitive quality, the Invacare PreO had the participation of 92 athletes, the highest number ever in Portugal in a TrailO competition.

On his speech during the Invacare PreO's Prize Giving Ceremony, Silvério Regalado, Mayor of Vagos, was keen on demonstrating his pleasure to receive at Vagos a TrailO event, in what he designated as “the inclusive day of Portugal O 'Meeting 2015 “. And so it was!

Competing side by side, 83 athletes in the Open Class and 9 athletes in the Paralympic class, embraced with energy the twenty challenges offered over 1200 meters of magnificent forest, with the “bonus” of a timed station with three problems preceding the formal course. Numbers that, in total, accounted for the largest participation ever in TrailO events in Portugal, rewarding the technical quality and organizational ability of Clube de Orientação de Estarreja in this second stage of the Portugal Trail Orienteering League Invacare 2015.

Hard fight for the victory

In the Open Class, the fight for victory was colossal, with João Pedro Valente (CPOC) and Jorge Baltazar (GDU Azoia) reaching the finish tied on points, after a whole of correct answers. Thanks to João Pedro Valente's speed and accuracy in the timed controls, he was able to beat his direct opponent. The third position would belong to Mark Heikoop (Aligots) with 19 points, the same as Jorge Gonçalves (CPOC), but also with a better performance in the timed controls. Portugal would still put three athletes in the five following positions, with the Italian Remo Madella, winner of the Portugal O 'Meeting last year, being ranked in the 10th place.

To João Pedro Valente, “there was a moment when I felt that the victory was not sure, but the motivation was there. Like almost all victories, it was a hard one. Indeed, if not, they aren't good wins.” Speaking about his course and the technical challenge he faced, Valente made a point stating that “apart from one or two controls, it was a great pleasure, which is not normal because we are always left with some questions here and there. This time, I felt confident throughout the race and had the perfect idea that was taking the right decisions and I enjoyed”. The last words are addressed to the organization of the Invacare PreO: “I have been able, personally, to congratulate the course setter because I think this was one of the best courses that I have participated in, where all the controls were challenging and demanded hard thinking”, he said.

The return of Ricardo Pinto

In the Paralympic class, Ricardo Pinto (DAHP) made his debut in the season with a win, finishing the course with 12 correct answers, against 11 points of Carlos Riu Noguerol (Individual), currently the Spanish champion in TrailO, in the Paralympic class. The winner of the previous edition of Portugal O' Meeting, Júlio Guerra (DAHP) ended his course in the third place with 9 points.

In the end, the most international of all Portuguese TrailO athletes, Ricardo Pinto, spoke about his victory: “I am particularly pleased with my victory. It was the first time I won the Portugal O'Meeting's TrailO stage but, above all, because it was my first competition this season after overcoming a number of difficulties and it was not easy to join with the maps after such a long absence”. As for his particular performance, the athlete admits: “I'm a bit disappointed with my performance because there were controls that I shouldn't have failed. Anyway, the result turned out to be better than the performance, but it is still a motivation to continue to embrace this sport that I love”, he said.


Open Class
1. João Pedro Valente (CPOC) 20 points (16 seconds)
2. Jorge Baltazar (GDU Azoia) 20 points (34 seconds)
3. Mark Heikoop (Aligots) 19 points (29 seconds)
4. Luís Goncalves (CPOC) 19 points (37 seconds)
5. Cláudio Tereso (ATV) 18 points (25 seconds)
6. Héctor Lorenzo (El Imperdible) 18 points (33 seconds)
7. Tiago Martins Aires (GafanhOri) 18 points (91 seconds)
8. Antonio Hernández (Alcon Orientación) 18 points (101 seconds)
9. Inês Domingues (COC) 17 points (20 seconds)
10. Remo Madella (WIOMASI) 17 points (22 seconds)

Paralympic class
1. Ricardo Pinto (DAHP) 12 points (177 seconds)
2. Carlos Riu Noguerol (Single ESP) 11 points (208 seconds)
3. Júlio Guerra (DAHP) 9 points (147 seconds)
4. José Laiginha Leal (DAHP) 8 points (165 seconds)
5. Cristiana Caldeira (CMRRC - Rovisco Pais) 8 points (243 seconds)
6. António Amorim (DAHP) 8 points (250 seconds)
7. Arsénio Reis (CMRRC - Rovisco Pais) 7 points (330 seconds)
8. Ana Paula Marques (DAHP) 5 points (105 seconds)
9. Cláudio Poiares (DAHP) 5 points (183 seconds)

Complete results and further information at

Joaquim Margarido

POM 2015: Map, solutions and results of the Invacare PreO

Saudações orientistas.

Joaquim Margarido

POM 2015: Moments

© Joaquim Margarido

Aaro Asikainen: "Thierry is still the king!"

"Of course, tomorrow is a new day." These were Aaro Asikainen's words, when asked wether he was ready to improve the second place at the end of the third stage and take the victory overall in the POM 2015. And it was, in fact, a new day. The Finnish signed his name for the first time in the Portugal O' Meeting's Hall of Fame and shares his impressions about a very special moment.

It was a hard fight until the end. To catch Baptiste Rollier wouldn't be enough, it should be necessary to beware of those who came from back. And in the depths of the forest, it is easy to raise the question: Has anyone passed me? But no, at least in the case of Aaro Asikainen, on POM's last day, the victory day at Portugal O 'Meeting 2015. A victory that was, above all, a surprise: “I made some small mistakes in the beginning and, after that, I was a little bit afraid, thinking that I was probably too much behind Baptiste. And I was surprised when my team mates started pushing me, saying that I was in the first position. A really nice surprise”, Asikainen said.

Talking about his race, Asikainen admits that things weren't easy: “I would say that it was the most difficult stage of the POM for me, with really tricky orienteering but, most of all, because after three races, my mind was quite tired as well as my body, so that's why I consider it the most difficult stage.” The balance couldn't have been more positive and the natural word as a result of the victory is “motivation”. According to Asikainen's words, “the motivation is really high. It's a wonderful opening of the season and will be really nice to go back to home and also do some country ski again. And I'm very happy with the organization, it was once again a really nice Meeting.

In a moment of celebration, Asikainen didn't forget about Thierry Gueorgiou, the winner of the three previous editions of POM and the big absent this year, because of an injury: “Actually, Thierry sent me an e-mail yesterday, wishing me good luck. As I said before, it was quite a surprise to win and it's always good to win. I'm very proud to succeed after Thierry, this is really a big thing to me because I've been struggling quite much with some injuries and I think that, finally, I've found my own way to work, to compete, to train, everything. I think this is a prize for a really hard work. However, it's not still my time to be the king, Thierry is still the king!”

Joaquim Margarido