World Orienteering Championships 2021 – Czech Republic

A review and analysis of the Sprint races at WOC 2021 thanks to Cork Orienteering Club’s Josh O’Sullivan Hourihan

Sprint Qualification 3rd July 2021- Terezin

Preparation for WOC 2021 was different, both physically and mentally, it wasn’t ideal but it was as good as it could be given everything that was going on globally. It was a very long wait between standing on the start-line and failing to perform in Riga (WOC 2018) and getting another shot in Terezín. The original goal after WOC 2018 was Denmark in 2020 but due to Covid the goalposts moved to 2021 in the Czech Republic. 

During the lockdowns and restrictions my coach in Donore Harriers kept me on course with structured trainings and a clear plan. He’s the mastermind behind everything. I would say I was physically in the best shape I have ever been in. Mileage through the winter went well with structured and sensible training including 26 weeks of 100mile/week average with big workouts and then speed work on top of that foundation in the spring/summer. I drew some sprint maps of areas around my side of Dublin that myself and Kev (since he’s in the neighbourhood) were able to run some trainings on. We did a “Stay @ Home Training Camp” on them over the Easter weekend. It wasn’t ideal but working on your O processes is working on your O processes, no matter where you are. I was lucky that I was able to rope in some National Team runners from other countries to plan trainings for us.

I flew to Prague and travelled north to Staré Splavy, near Doksy, on the Tuesday before the competition to get settled and get on some training maps. We had some time in Pevnost Josefov on the Wednesday and in Terezín Bastion 1, the Sprint Model, on the Friday. Pevnost Josefov was the first in person look at this fortress style sprint terrain, relevant for the individual Sprint races. The walls were bigger than I expected and the multilevel sections were tricky to get your head around. On the Friday morning the Sprint Model calmed my nerves somewhat as the printing was really clear and the map was easy to read and understand. There is a difference between reading it at jogging pace and race pace though! For those of you who don’t know the model map is usually in the embargo, it won’t be used for the race and it shows very relevant terrain and gives you a feel for how things look and how things are mapped. In this case what did the tunnels, levels and walls look like and how fast was the grass for running compared to tarmac. 

I was able to get my pre-race routine of 20-25mins including a few 12-15sec strides done on the model map. This is what I do for all my races, if it ain’t broke then don’t fix it! The rest of the day was filled with eating, a walk around the technical model to see how the start and control set up looked and some napping! It’s important to keep calm and relaxed while keeping the mind somewhat occupied, the waiting is the hardest part! 

Sprint Qualifier day was an early start for the 3 of us; myself, Kev and Paul, with the alarm going off at 05:30 for breakfast and we were on the road by 06:45 to get the drive done and get into quarantine (not COVID related quarantine though!). I wanted to be in quarantine early to get the drive out of my legs, be calm and have time for something to go wrong. The only issue with being the driver on these trips is you realise you are one of the old guys on the team!

I did my usual warm up routine, nothing flashy and nothing ground breaking and as I stood in the first start box with the Finn and the Argentinian I felt a mixture of preparedness and nervousness. Nerves are always good though they mean you care and they keep you alert. I’d put in the work and it was now time for the big dance! Once I got the map in my hands it was like someone flicked a switch and the nerves were gone and I was in the zone. The start of the course (controls 1-10) was kind of “JK-sprinty-style” (technical term) which took me a bit by surprise, especially with the artificial barriers to block off roads which were open on the old map of the area. I was relatively smooth through this section of the course but I picked a wrong routechoice to #3 which ended up costing me. I ran the B alternate which was 50m longer and included more corners. It was a bit helter skelter in this section with 3 men starting every minute on the different heats and all heats having ~10 controls in here. Fast guys going in all directions! 

There was a transition to the more fortress area and down into the moat. In here the planner had built some artificial barriers to create S-shaped routechoices and just generally try to impact your flow. We then had 3 quick controls before going into a routechoice to #18 (I ran the B alternate). I was slowish leaving #17 to see the alternatives as I could only spot one and I knew there couldn’t only be one for this kind of leg. I was happy with my choice but maybe in hindsight I invested too much time in making my decision. 

When I finished I was in 6th place out of 10 men in my heat but in the WOC Quali a lot of “favourites” look for the early start block in order to maximise the recovery time in between the Quali and the Final. I went away and collected my bag, got some water on board and did a cool down with Paul and some of the British team only to come back and see that I had been bumped down to 17th place and missed qualification for the final by 12 seconds. On analysis later I found that my wrong decision on the leg to #3 cost me 13 seconds when compared to the Lithuanian who finished in the final qualification spot, 15th. After a quick look at the splits I was in the top 15 times on 23% of legs and the top 20 on 59% of legs. In short I was close……but crucially not close enough and at the end of the day you either qualify or you dont.

On review, despite it not being the result I was aiming for, it is still my best result at WOC and I’m proud of my performance. I prepared as best I could given the circumstances  and I gave it all I had on the day. I pushed hard to be right on the limit of control throughout the race, sometimes it just isn’t quite enough.

The goal now shifts to WOC 2022 in Denmark. My athletics based training will remain the same as myself and my coach have been working together for 3 years now and I trust his guidance and judgement 100%. We both operate in the mindset of – if you can’t run at close to the high pace that these top guys do then in sprint it really doesn’t matter how good your map skills are, you won’t be there at the business end. I’ll be planning to get some trips to Denmark for some races and training camps while also making use of any options I have available to me closer to home.

Thanks to everyone for the support through the journey, for sharing training miles with me, for any pointers or advice, for planning courses and trainings and for all the good luck messages and positive vibes in the lead up to WOC. It is very much appreciated. 

Here’s to a solid and injury free winter and to taking the next step at WOC 2022 in Denmark!
Some links – Pevnost Josefov Video, Results, Splits, GPS tracking (Men Heat A), Polarsteps

Josh O’Sullivan Hourihan, orienteer, athlete, member of Cork Orienteering Club and Donore Harriers AC

WOC 2021- meet the team

I’m Conor Short, I’m 29, and I’m running the middle and relay this year. I’ve been orienteering for as long as I can remember: my parents used to carry me around courses in a baby carrier. This year will be my 7th time running WOC.

Training for this WOC has been a bit funny, I’d normally prefer to get to the terrain for a training camp anything from a year to a few weeks before WOC. This year I’ve not been able to travel until a couple of days before the middle race, so I’ve been doing as many orienteering training as I can on Irish maps to get tuned up.I’m really excited for the Czech terrain. They have beautiful forests, and I’m hoping the technical sandstone terrain will suit me. One thing I’m focussing on this year is to try to block out any distractions and concentrate on my own race. There’s a lot going on at WOC; people in the forest, TV cameras, and a lot of pressure and excitement.  It can be difficult to tune all of this out, so this year I’m aiming to start the races with a more relaxed frame of mind.

Offer your support and follow Conor on instagram at conorshort

I’m Colm Moran, studied Electronic Engineering but more recently have moved into teaching and I’m currently teaching secondary school maths in Oxford.

I got into orienteering like most people do, through family, in my case my Mum. I started training more seriously for it around 15 or 16, and spent a year in Sweden improving my technique after school.

Nowadays I’ve upped my training volume and I’m running about 10-12hrs most weeks. Being in Oxford it’s not as hilly as I’d like, but it means the distance is good, and I was doing 130-140km per week through most of winter, and I’ve also been fortunate to get some more orienteering work done in the last couple months.

Looking forward to WOC a lot! My shape is as good as it’s ever been which makes it exciting, and I’m hoping the unique terrain and less travel will have levelled the playing field between stronger and weaker orienteering nations due limited training opportunities in Czech Republic. The terrain looks really exciting and I can’t wait to get into it!

Offer your support and follow Colm on instagram at colmmemaybe_yo

Josh O’Sullivan-Hourihan, 29, Cork Orienteering Club and Defence Forces Orienteering, I will be competing in the Sprint & Middle at WOC 2021 in Czech Republic. I’ve been orienteering for as long as I can remember. I started out with local events in Cork and then eventually progressed to the Irish Junior Squad at 16/17 and I began to get more competitive and focused on the sport. WOC 2021 will be my 5th WOC. It’s a long way from my very first orienteering event when I was 2-3months old in a papoose carrier strapped to my mum in Garretstown! My training is quite athletics based. I train with Donore Harriers and I run workouts on Tuesdays and Saturdays. My weekly mileage fluctuates between 60 – 115miles (~100km – ~185km) a week depending on the time of the season and most of my workouts and my miles are run in the Phoenix Park. After being injured in 2020 I added S&C and mobility work to my weekly training structure. During the lockdowns I drew some sprint maps around where I live so that I could use these for technique/process training in the absence of training camps and races. I’m excited to get stuck into WOC2021, it has been a long 3 years since Latvia and this will also be the first WOC where I will compete in one of the forest races. It will be my first time in the Czech Republic and the maps look fantastic so I’m excited to get out there and get the final preparations ticked off in the coming days.

Offer your support and follow Josh on instagram at joshoshourihan

Paul Pružina, 24, Sprint, Middle, Relay, I’ve been orienteering since about 2010. I started with family at LVO events then started doing training weekends and races with junior squads (NI and Ireland). I ran at 3 JWOCs (2015-17) but this is my first WOC.

Normally my training is almost all running on trails about 120k a week, with some XC intervals and hill reps. I’ll orienteer as much as possible, ranging from once every couple of weeks to twice a week, as well as training camps once or twice a year. This year I’ve been injured though, so have been doing very little running since March, with a bit more cycling and a lot of S&C.

I’m excited for WOC – I’ve been in the terrains a couple of times in the past two years and they’re really great places to orienteer. It’s disappointing that I’ve not been able to train like normal in the lead up, but I think all my strength work will help make up for a lack of mileage.

Offer your support and follow Paul on instagram at ppruzina

I’m Kevin O’Boyle, 29 years old, and I’ll be running the Sprint race this year at WOC 2021! I’ve been orienteering my entire life, my first competitive appearance being in the under 4s buggy championships on the Curragh plains 😂 my entire family are keen orienteers. This will be my 4th WOC.

My training is fully running based, and usually clocks in at 80-100km/week. This includes 1 interval session (with Donore Harriers) and usually a wander in the mountains too. Training is my passion and no day is complete without it.

WOC this year will be super interesting to be at. I’m very grateful it’s on after a long drag with no racing! On a personal level I feel I have never come close to my goals at WOC. My goal for orienteering in general is to qualify for the Sprint Final and rank in the top 45 sprinters in the world regularly. The first time will be the hardest! This year’s race is in a very technical sprint area with level changes, battlements and tunnel systems. In racing, nothing comes close to SprintO for me. It is intense, adrenaline flowing high-stakes racing with everything on the line on split second decisions. So here’s to a good one out in the Czech Republic 🇨🇿

Offer your support and follow Kev on instagram at orienteerkevo_

Check out Darren’s post for links on how to follow the athletes as they race over the coming days.

Photo credits; Conor- Lindie Naughton, all other athletes – John Shiels, Action Photography

World Orienteering Championships 2021

The World Orienteering Championships start tomorrow, July 3rd, in the Czech Republic with the Sprint.

Qualification is in the morning with the final in the afternoon for the top 15 in each of the 3 qualification heats. Ireland has Paul Pruzina, Kevin O’Boyle & Josh O’Sullivan-Hourihan running the sprint.

Start Times:

Paul – 08:05

Josh – 08:12

Kevin – 08:28

On Tuesday (July 6th) there is the Middle distance race. Qualification with the final in the afternoon. Conor Short, Paul Pruzina & Josh O’Sullivan-Hourihan will represent Ireland in this race.

The relay is on Thursday (July 8th). Colm Moran, Paul Pruzina & Conor Short will make up the team, running order to be decided. It starts at 17:25.

And the long distance race is on Friday (July 9th). Colm Moran will represent Ireland in the long.

Web TV is available for the Finals.

The WOC website has been updated to include links for live results, GPS tracking and maps.

Wishing the team all the best,

Darren Burke

High Performance Manager

Check the Meet the Team post for information on athletes.

WOC 2021 Team

The TEAM IRELAND selection for WOC 2021 Czech Republic is as follows:

Sprint: Kevin O’Boyle
Josh O’Sullivan-Hourihan
Paul Pružina

Middle: Josh O’Sullivan-Hourihan
Paul Pružina
Conor Short
Res: Kevin O’Boyle

Long: Colm Moran
Res: Paul Pružina

Relay: Colm Moran
Paul Pružina
Conor Short
Res: Josh O’Sullivan-Hourihan
Running Order TBC

Note: No female athletes put themselves forward for selection this year.

The selection panel would like to acknowledge the high level of commitment and effort shown by the athletes in this year’s selection process, particularly in light of the various restrictions and late publication of the Selection Policy. We wish all those selected the very best in this year’s competition.

For those athletes who did not make the selection this year – we thank you for your efforts, wish you success in your orienteering for the rest of the season, and look forward to your continued commitment towards next year’s selection.

Kyle Heron
Susan Lambe
Angus Tyner


The result of an appeal to the selection process is as follows:

The appeals panel has sought and received detailed clarification from the selectors in relation to the selection process used to select the Middle Distance men’s team, and also in relation to the points raised in the appeal.
Travel restrictions arising from the Covid19 crisis meant that athletes could only compete in one of two selection events, which led to difficulty in ranking athletes’ performances across both events.  No head-to-head results exist between the group of athletes who competed at the UK event (British Middle Distance Championships)  and the Irish event (Ballyward).
That is the crux of the matter.  The selectors have had to make their decision based on limited data.
The appeals panel is of the opinion that the selectors made the best decision they could, and that there are no clear grounds for overturning their decision.  For these reasons the appeal is rejected.

Appeal Panel – Aonghus O’Cleirigh, Andrew Cox & Raymond Finlay

WOC 2021 Selection Policy

This is the WOC 2021 Selection Policy.

My thanks to the selectors for their work in preparing the policy.

Darren Burke

Director of High Performance Orienteering

WOC 2021 Intention Form

Anyone interested in selection for WOC 2021 should fill out this Intention Form by Wednesday April 21st 2021.

Darren Burke

Director of High Performance

Orienteering in Ireland
Orienteering Ireland, Irish Sport HQ, Blanchardstown
D15 DY62, Ireland