25 nations at World Trail Orienteering Championships

The peak of the 2019 Trail Orienteering season is reached this weekend when the World Championships (WTOC) begin in Idanha-a-Nova in eastern central Portugal. The Open class has 89 competitors and the para class 43.

The Championships start with the Opening Ceremony on Sunday, and on Saturday and Sunday a pre-WTOC event, part of this year’s European Cup in TrailO (ECTO), is being held not far away on similar terrain. So a good warm-up occasion to back up the solid training plus competition experience that the competitors will have been doing in the past few weeks.

Star of the season so far is Juha Hiirsalmi from Finland, who has won three of the four ECTO events held up to now, and was tenth in the other one. A close runner in form is Hiirsalmi’s compatriot Petteri Halkala, 21 years old this year, who is current WTOC TempO Champion. Halkala has finished first and second in the two ECTO events he has taken part in this year. Norway is looking strong with three athletes – Martin Aarholt Waaler, Geir Myhr Øien and Lars Jacob Waaler – in the top six in the current ECTO standings. Slovenian athletes hold positions eight and nine, and a number of Swedish athletes also rank highly, the best being Erik Lundkvist. But in TrailO there are, with good reason, quite a number of nations that fancy their chances of getting a medal at WTOC.

The Championships will be held on Mediterranean terrain with mixed open, semi-open and forest, in many places with “a great variety of rock and contour detail”, as it is described in the bulletin, and with some steep slopes. The TempO Final terrain, a steep slope with many “big boulders” plus crags, spurs and re-entrants, sounds quite spectacular.

The main competition days are:

Tuesday 25th June                      PreO stage 1

Thursday 27th June                    PreO stage 2

Friday 28th June                          Relay

Saturday 29th June                     TempO Qualification and Final

Reports and leading results will be posted on this website after each day of competition. Much more detail about the venue and the competitions can be found in Bulletins 3 and 4 on the event website www.wtoc2019.fpo.pt.