Today saw the first race of this year´s World Orienteering Championships, which is based in Aarhus on Jutland (mainland Denmark). Most of the races are actually based around Silkeborg, but the event centre is in Aarhus and that is where the majority of the athletes will be based during the week. The first races are the qualification races – always a nervous affair before the championships proper start. Today was the middle qualification race (with the final on Friday). With between 35 and 45 in each heat, and only 15 to qualify from each, the margins were sometimes very tight. The British team had a very good day, with all 6 athletes qualifying for the finals. Every year the British team has the quality to do this, but it is not very often that the whole team performs well on the same day. Jamie Stevenson in particular ran very well, underlining early on in the week that he is in really good shape. His preferred distance is the classic, but a good run today will set him up nicely for the races to come. Experienced pro´s Sarah Rollins and Jon Duncan both qualified safely in 8th and 9th places place, as did Helen Bridle in 8th, really improving on her disappointing early exit last year. Debutant Rachel Elder overcame a difficult start draw to just cling on in 15th place, and Matthew Crane had a good run to secure a comfortable position in his first WOC final. Results Men´s Heat 1 1 Matthias Merz SUI 28:40,5 2 Jamie Stevenson GBR 29:27,4 00:46,93 Jonne Lakanen FIN 29:29,9 00:49,4Men´s Heat 2 1 Jarkko Huovila FIN 27:26,8 2 François Gonon FRA 28:36,8 01:10,03 Valentin Novikov RUS 28:53,2 01:26,48 Jon Duncan GBR 29:48,4 02:21,6Men´s Heat 3 1 Thierry Gueorgiou FRA 27:00,9 2 Emil Wingstedt SWE 27:05,7 00:04,83 Pasi Ikonen FIN 28:01,1 01:00,28 Matthew Crane GBR 29:02,9 02:02,0Women´s Heat 1 1 Minna Kauppi FIN 28:58,8 2 Marianne Andersen NOR 29:54,4 00:55,63 Jenny Johansson SWE 30:20,2 01:21,48 Helen Bridle GBR 33:52,5 04:53,7Women´s Heat 2 1 Helena Jansson SWE 31:44,1 2 Tania Robinson NZL 31:51,8 00:07,73 Anni-Maija Fincke FIN 32:07,3 00:23,29 Sarah Rollins GBR 34:15,6 02:31,5Women´s Heat 3 1 Simone Niggli-Luder SUI 29:07,3 2 Kajsa Nilsson SWE 29:41,1 00:33,83 Heli Jukkola FIN 30:45,5 01:38,215 Rachael Elder GBR 35:23,4 06:16,1Tomorrow is the long qualifier. You can have a look at the WOC website here, and you can follow the races online here.