RMOC member Sharon Crawford had outstanding results at the 2011 World Masters Orienteering Championships in Pecs, Hungary.

2011 World Masters Orienteering Championships
Pecs, Hungary -- July 1-8, 2011



The 2011 WMOC had approximately 4,000 competitors entered, age 35 and older, in five-year age classes.

Class W65 (Women 65-69) had 200 entrants divided into three heats for the qualifications races. The top 27 in each heat (81 total) made the "A" finals; the rest competed in the B and C finals.

The class with the most entries was M60 with 374 men aged 60-64, divided into six qualification heats and A, B, C, D, and E finals. M65 was nearly as big, with the same number of heats and finals. W60 and W55 were the largest women's classes, with 236 and 210 entrants, respectively, and four heats and four finals, A, B, C, and D.

The M80 class had 49 men, M85 had 13 men, M90 had 6, and M95 had 1 man. W80 had 16 women, W85 had 4, and W90 had 1 woman.

In the Finals, entrants start in two-minute intervals (one-minute intervals for the Sprint), with the best finishers from the qualification races starting last.

Sprint Recap

The W65A Sprint final course was 1.5 kilometers with 30 meters of climb and 10 controls. The Sprint finals took place on Sunday, July 3rd, on the Kenderfold map in the town of Komlo. Final results:

1. Torid Kvall Norway 13:28
2. Sharon Crawford USA 13:34
3. Galina Vershinina Russia 13:46


Long Distance Recap

As the week progressed, the weather got hotter and hotter. It was pleasant for the Sprint qualification in the old town section of Pecs, a UNESCO World Heritage city with narrow streets and passageways, small squares, and courtyards. It was a little warmer for the Sprint finals in Komlo, an old renovated mining town with some wooded sections.

It was warmer still for the two Long Distance qualification races, but still pleasant in the deep beech forests.

But by the Long Distance finals on Friday, July 8, predictions for Pecs were for 35°C / 95°F. The finals were a few miles north of town in the nearby Mecsek hills. It must have been at least that hot in the big open field at the finish. (Afterwards on the bus ride back to Pecs at 5:30 pm, we saw a town thermometer which read 37°C / 99°F.)

Only thing to do was to get well-hydrated and keep drinking. And again, it was not quite so hot in the deep, dark beech forests.

The terrain was characterized by hundreds of small pits / depressions along with bigger, circular multi-contour depressions formed in the underlying limestone rock under the soil. It was very technical terrain requiring careful map reading to figure out what was up and what was down. Very rewarding if you can do it, and quickly. Many beautiful open slopes luring you down into these depressions. Wonderful beech trees and oak, with some thicker vegetation limiting visibility occasionally.

Important - you must attach yourself to the map, and keep careful track of where you are on it, or you will have a devil of the time relocating. Lots of fun if you can do it.

Anyway, after winning Silver in the town Sprint on Sunday (1:4,000 scale map), it was time to celebrate the 4th of July in the woods on Monday on the training map, readjusting to normal woods orienteering and a 1:10,000 scale map.

On Tuesday I had a fairly good first qualification race for the Long Distance in my heat, behind a speedy Dane; and an excellent second race on Wednesday, to win the combined two days, helped by the Dane taking an extra 20 minutes to find the first control!

In the Finals the runners from each heat are merged, the best making the A-Finals, the rest the B- and C-Finals. (In the W65 class, that meant the best 27 from each heat -- 81 total -- went into the A-finals. Similar for the other age classes, depending on how many entrants there were in each class. See above.)

In the Finals I started at 1:27 PM, third from the end in my class (as W65-1 heat winner, per the formula for allocating start times). The winners of the other two heats started two and four minutes behind me.

There were two separate start areas, and most of the B, C, D, and E finals had started much earlier in the morning, so the woods were fairly empty for us in A-Finals at the end. I nailed the first control (a pit on the other side of a big depression) and was half way to the second control in a ditch when I saw the runner who had started two minutes before me going back toward the first control, after apparently badly overshooting it.

I continue on to #2, then go left toward #3, drifted a little low but corrected up to a little pit above a large depression. On toward #4, when off to my left I see Galina Vershinina of St. Petersburg, Russia. Uh oh, trouble.

A perennial contender, Galina has several WMOC medals from previous years, and was Bronze medalist in the Sprint on Sunday. She can run faster than I, but sometimes I can out-navigate her (as on Sunday, by 12 seconds). As winner of D65-2 (heat 2), she had started two minutes behind me. Was I going so slow? I continued on past a water stop and approached control #4 -- a large distinct tree, visible from a distance. No sign of Galina. Never mind -- do your own race.

No problems at #5, #6, or #7, but I make a little map-reading error leaving #7, and end up on a safer but longer and slower route around on trails to #8. A very good run up to then, but left the door open for anyone with a cleaner run. A short leg to #9; a tricky leg to #10 (realizing that the little depression was up the hillside three contours above the big depression to the right); a mad dash to the last control at the edge of the finish field; and up the finish chute and in.

The announcer said my time of 43:37 had bettered the previous fastest time in the class, but what about the last two to start behind me? Galina finally came in for Silver, 2:25 slower, having recovered from the mistake she made when I saw her -- way off going to #3 as I was en route to #4. Bronze went to Helena Mannervesi from Finland (former elite national team member), four seconds behind Galina.

And what of all the others, especially Torid Kvall of Norway, the Gold Medal winner in the Sprint on Sunday? Apparently, one by one, all the others had bigger mistakes than I, and fell by the wayside. Was I lucky or what on this day? I can think of plenty of times (like last year at WMOC in Switzerland) when I was one of those fallen by the wayside. I guess in orienteering if you keep trying long enough and hard enough it might ultimately be your turn some day to be the one with the fewest mistakes!

When I missed the last bus back to Pecs, Torid and her husband offered me a ride back. We compared split times (times to each control, recorded by the electronic punching system). Of the first seven splits, I had four faster, giving me a two-minute lead after her two-minute error at #6. But after my slow route to #8, she was a minute ahead, and nearly a minute and a half ahead by #9. With only two more controls to go, she had the gold medal in her pocket.

All she had to do was get to control #10 continue a hundred more meters to the last control in the finish field, and run 90 meters up the chute to the finish line.

But control #10 was tricky, the little depression up the hillside three contours to the left from the big depression on the right. My time to it was 4:07; poor Torid had a horrible mistake and took 10:27!

Then one minute for her to get to the last control (I took 1:17), and 18 seconds up the chute. But it was of course too late, and the gold medal tumbled back out of her pocket and away (and ended up in mine).

Her six-minute error at the very end was costly. She ended up out of the medals in fifth with a time of 48:07, 4:30 back. Such is orienteering -- it can be heartbreaking at times. But at least she had Gold in the Sprint, in which she is nearly untouchable, and maybe better luck next time.


So that is how the week went. I felt that I was pretty darn lucky to get the Silver in the Sprint on Sunday. To get a second medal -- any medal, let alone Gold, in the Long Distance -- that was really incredible.

WMOC opening ceremony in Pecs, Hungary.

Sprint qualification race in Pecs -- last control.

Sprint qualification races -- finish line (blue arch at left) in main square of Pecs.

Sharon in the Finish chute. Photo courtesy of Kovalcsik.

Sharon in the Finish chute. Photo courtesy of Kovalcsik.

M65 and W65 winners of Sprint final in Komlo, Hungary. Medals presented by Sarolta Monspart of Hungary, 1972 World Orienteering Champion.

M85 and W85 winners of Sprint final.

M90 and W90 winners of Sprint final! (Only one woman; there was also one man in M95).

Sharon's W65 Sprint final map, results, and Silver Medal.

Sharon with her W65 Sprint final map and Silver medal.

Long Distance finals -- beech woods near the last control.

Long Distance finals -- the trail up to the last control.

Long Distance finals -- the last control.

W65 and M65 winners in the Long Distance final.

Sharon with her gold medal from the Long Distance final.

Sharon after winning Gold in the Long final. Photo courtesy of Charlie DeWeese.

W65A final course and gold medal.

So lucky -- Silver in Sprint, gold in Long Distance!

Other American orienteers from California, Chicago and Connecticut.

Basket maker in Pecs.

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