Narrow margins are the norm in top-level TrailO, and that will certainly be the case in the four days of competition in the European Trail Orienteering Championships which start this weekend.
Twenty nations are competing in the first TrailO medal event of 2018, with 50 Paralympic competitors and 111 in the Open class. The host nation is Slovakia, organising a major international event for the first time. The Event Centre is in the capital city Bratislava.
Who are the favourites?
One person who will be especially keen to do well is Sweden’s Ola Jansson. A Paralympic competitor, he has won more medals in European Championships than anyone else – 3 gold, 1 silver and 1 bronze – and was the European Champion in PreO last time round in 2016, alongside his compatriot Stig Gerdtman in the Open class. Jansson is also the reigning world champion in this format. The Czech Jana Kostova could well be his closest challenger, whilst in the Open class the current world champion Lars Jakob Waaler, Norway is amongst the favourites.
Very varied terrain
The 4-day programme comprises a 2-day PreO competition followed by the Relay and finally the TempO. Very varied terrain is on offer over the four days. PreO 1, on Saturday, is in hilly terrain with deciduous forest and parkland and varied ground detail, whereas PreO 2 the following day utilises typical mid-European karst terrain with big steep slopes and numerous crags.
The terrain changes completely for the Relay at Castle Devín, ancient ruins sitting on spectacular rocky cliffs, and again for the TempO where relatively flat pine forest with sand dunes will provide tricky tasks under tense time pressure.
“TrailO is a relatively new discipline in Slovakia,” says Event Director Dušan Furucz. In fact the first TrailO event to be organised by Slovaks was only in early 2014. But the organising club, TJ Slávia Farmaceut Bratislava, has enjoyed close cooperation with Czech colleagues in the intervening years. This has resulted in a very good skill base being developed in the club, both in competitive and organisational terms. And they have honed their planning skills too, in putting on two successful European Cup events.
One peculiarity is that the Opening Ceremony will take place only after the Relay competition is over on Monday! This is to enable a special martial arts performance to take place, as part of the ceremony, with the dramatic arena backdrop of the historic Castle Devín, a national monument.
Follow the competition online
The newest technology for recording and transmitting results is being used in Slovakia, bringing TrailO to life at the arena and online as never before. Both IOF LiveCenter and www.orienteering.org will carry reports and results from each day of competition. More information on the championships can be found on the event website, www.etoc2018.sk, where pictures, maps, solutions and some video output will be published at the end of each competition day.
Saturday 28 April PreO 1
Sunday 29 April PreO 2
Monday 30 April Relay
Tuesday 1 May TempO Qualification and Final