SLOW Gold at the British Sprint & Middle Distance Weekend

This weekend was a “double header” of British Championship races: the Sprints on Saturday and the Middles on Sunday. When I was working (which was not so long ago) and young (which was a long time ago), I invariably ran better on the Sunday than the Saturday of such a weekend. Maybe I needed a day to properly switch my mind from work to orienteering. These days it’s the reverse: the second day is harder. It might be about needing time for recovery, or perhaps I’m just relatively better at the shorter sprint format that is the first day. Anyway, I was not alone amongst the SLOW contingent in the East Midlands this weekend in doing less well as time went on.

Both races were nicely presented with well-chosen arenas containing the finish and commentary, and plenty of club flags. The Middles also had an arena start and a spectator control.

Eoin O'Callaghan punching the last control at Loughborough, courtesy of Crawford Lindsay.
Eoin O’Callaghan punching the last control at Loughborough, courtesy of Crawford Lindsay

The area for Saturday was the campus of Loughborough University, just off the M1 100 miles north of London. The format is seeded heats in the morning and finals in the afternoon, with best starting last. Different areas of the campus were used morning and afternoon. The morning was mainly larger teaching and administrative buildings, and the afternoon mainly many small and similar residential buildings, with cul-de-sacs and more chances to go wrong.

The men’s open class saw a 6 second win (in a 14 minute race) by Kris Jones of Swansea Bay and Sheffield University. He won a silver in the Junior World Champs Sprint in 2010, and will surely join Murray Strain and Scott Fraser as the British runners at the World Champs Sprints later this year – well done two Scots and a Welshman. The women’s open was won with a 30-second margin by Tessa Hill, who also won the JK Sprint. She is already selected for the World Champs.

17 of SLOW ran at the Sprints, with our largest contingent being in the Women’s Open. Our sprint stars this year were Di Leakey and Sarah Brown, both winning their classes and showing the SLOW jacket on the top step of the podium. In the second tier finals, David May won his, and Vince Roper was only 3 seconds off winning his.

Matthias Mahr at Stanton Moor, courtesy of Wendy Carlyle
Matthias Mahr at Stanton Moor, courtesy of Wendy Carlyle

Sunday saw most of us running the middle races at Stanton Moor near Matlock in Derbyshire. It was a very different mental challenge as expected, emphasising fine navigation and map interpretation rather than route choice. The fields spread much more. In my class for example, in the sprint heat only one person took longer than winner + 50%, but in the middle nearly half were outside that mark (including me, but not including Andy Robinson). All courses started into a complex quarried area, where many of us lost time, and emerged via the spectator control for later simpler legs on moorland.

The men’s open class was won by Murray Strain, and the women’s by Rachael Rothman. Unlike the Sprints these were not selection races, and both runners are already invited to the British Test races in Finland in mid-June.

SLOW did not enjoy the same success, but a few of us deserve mention for doing better. Helen Gardner running Women’s Open improved on her 12th in the Sprint to come 5th. Alan Leakey (M60) improved from mis-punch to 19th, and Colin Dutkiewicz (M40) moved from 9th to 8th. Matthias Mahr was a consistent 6th both days.

Report by Paul Street

Sprint Middle
Men’s Open/M21
Ian Webb 11th= in C final 34th
Michael Balling 4th in C final
M35
Matthias Mahr 6th 6th
Eoin O’Callaghan 11th in A final
M40
Colin Dutkiewicz 9th in A final 8th
M45
Vince Roper 3rd (3 secs off win) in B final 34th
M55
Paul Street 17th in A final 47th
Andy Robinson 10th in B final 41st
M60
Alan Leakey mis-punched 19th
M65
David May Won the B final 18th
Women’s Open/W21
Abi Weeds 2nd in B final 13th
Helen Gardner 12th in A final 5th
Sarah-Jane Gaffney 23rd= in B final 22nd
Jayne Sales 17th in B final
W55
Diane Leakey GOLD 18th
Christine Robinson 9th 24th
W60
Sarah Brown GOLD 4th