Venice Street Orienteering Race

The Venice Street Orienteering Race With 3024 entrants and 317 teams from over 20 nations, the 27th meeting of the Venice Street-O is the largest street race in the orienteering calendar.Street orienteering (or Street-O) seems to be one of the upcoming disciplines in the orienteering world with more and more races and maps being planned and raced at this level. This Venice Street Race was different to usual urban races as the courses were longer in length meaning that concentration and speed were to be very important. The normal winning times on urban races are under 20 minutes (usually sprint races) but for Venice, the winning times were expected to be over an hour for the Elite classes.Just the sheer number of people in the city on a beautiful weekend in November would make any tourist feel hemmed in – let alone having to run around the huge groups of people who were trying the catch a glimpse of the Bridge of Seize.The Programme Saturday (24h):Sightseeing: 0900-1200 Model Event: 1200-1300Park Race: 1400-1700Sunday (24h): The 27th Venice Street Race: 1000-1230 Quickly catch a flight back to EMA: 1630 The Saturday Park Races 3024 competitors made their way to the Venice Sports Hall near the Arsenale (Venetian Fort) for 0900. The control points were located at specific locations; for example, building – inside corner or bridge – western side, which meant that you had to look at your control descriptions carefully to see whether or not you were in the correct place. The navigation was so challenging as you tried to run at full speed down the twisting alleyways and across the steep bridges whilst trying to dodge the oncoming photographers and windowshoppers. The Model Event had practice controls set out on the island of St Elena, so you could see what control sites might be used on Sunday´s event (see the photo above of a control on a water fountain).The Park Race then was a short timed race to allow the competitors to warm up and see what it was like to navigate through the streets on the eastern end of the city. Brilliant practice for what lay ahead! The Sunday Street Race I ran in the Mens A Class, a 10km (straight line distance) race with 23 controls. There were some recognisable international names on the start list but many of the big names were running the Elite class, only a 2km longer course.The race was so fast and furious, many of the small mistakes I made came while running too fast and missing the underpasses and side passages, usually blocked by the tourists or Venetians on their morning walk to church. The start was back into the area used for the Park Race on the Saturday, with all controls in different locations – meaning different routes had to be used. The course then travelled into the busy areas around St Marc´s Square, the Rialto Bridge and other major tourist areas. Incredible sights were to see the orienteers dip in and around bewildered tourists, trying to find their control sites! The run-in was also a spectacle with a 200m stretch of the promenade coned off for the runners to sprint in – putting every last effort into their race. Some medals were won and lost here, with those who still had the legs managing to keep their positions. Final Thoughts Results have been made live (see the link below) and show some great GBR performances. Here are some of the highlights: Womens A 1st – ESZTER ZSEBEHÁZY – 00:59:05 3rd – FIONA FORREST – 01:01:156th – ANJA STRATFORD – 01:03:32Mens A 1st – SEEBÖCK STEFAN – 01:07:27 19th – MATTHEW DICKINSON – 01:14:10 Mens Elite 1st – TENANI ALESSIO – 01:11:45 4th – ALASTAIR BUCKLEY – 01:13:43 Womens Elite 1st – DODIN CÉLINE -00:55:18 3rd – ABI WEEDS – 01:00:39 Mens 60- 1st – JOHANSSON KALLE – 00:30:52 2nd – DOUG DICKINSON – 00:31:06 Overall the weekend was just plain amazing; both for running around one of the most famous cities in the world and also the fact that an area so flat could be so technical for an experienced orienteer and so difficult to navigate cleanly. Next up for GB Street-O: British Sprint Championships, Scarborough: April 14th. More information about the event can find it at the official website. Full results for the event can be found here.