The 2023 Interland match on 5 March was hosted by Belgium. Our hosts, the Belgian federation – Orienteering Vlaanderen (OV) achieved a convincing win; England were second and the French Ligue des Hauts de France de Course d’Orientation (LHFCO) third.

Orienteering Vlaanderen are hard to beat on their home turf (wooded dunes) but the experience for, in particular, the junior element of the England team will stand them in good stead for their future international orienteering endeavours. England won the embedded Youth Cup (aggregate under 20 scores) by a margin from OV.

England competes annually in this pentangular match against the French, the two Belgian teams: the Flemish OV and French speaking Fédération Régionale des Sports d’Orientation (FRSO), and the Netherlands – Nederlandse Oriënteringsloop Bond (NOLB). This year as guests, a team for Luxembourg competed hors concours. The Interland race was staged in the Kattenbos forest by Lommel, 64km east of Antwerp. Typically Flemish terrain featured small well mapped relief, predominantly coniferous trees, some semi-open heathland, “challenging sand dune orienteering; fast in the open forest, blocks of limited visibility”.

Whilst the competition is a team effort, spanning age groups from 14 to 60+: teams of 42, individual wins, which were hard to gain, were recorded by: Andy Simpson (M50) and Jane Morgan (W60). Charlotte Chapman (W14), Freya Tryner (W17), Imogen Pieters (W20), Heather Fellbaum (W60), Euan Tryner (M20), Ben Windsor (M21) and Richard Robinson (M40) gained second places; and thirds were recorded by Isabel Hawks (W14), Marcus Perry (M14) and David Bunn (M21). The individual results are on The team results are attached / see Team Results.

The team assembled near Egham, Surrey at the Runnymede-on-Thames Hotel and travelled by coach on the Friday, crossing on the Dover-Calais ferry and stopping in Oostduinkerke (YH). On the Saturday, after a short stop en route to admire the medieval market town of Turnhout, there was the opportunity to train in the Dommelhof woods near Pelt: terrain similar to the competition area. Several Interland teams stayed at Dommelhof Sports and Arts Centre: very comfortable with excellent food; and plenty of it. After the Interland competition on Sunday we raced back to Calais and thence by ferry to Dover and home, some well into Monday morning.

We were very well hosted by Orienteering Vlaanderen and the Hamok orienteering club. I’d also like to record the team’s thanks to Mel Elkington for sorting out all the clothing, to Harriet Lawson for paying the bills, to Barry Elkington for acting as assistant team manager, to the athletes who drove and gave lifts, and to the many parents, both orienteers and not, who supported team members by helping with travel, some from a long way away.

The 2024 Interland Cup is to be hosted in the Ardennes in the south of Belgium on 24 March by Fédération Régionale des Sports d’Orientation (FRSO).