Today's Long race at the 2017 edition of European Youth Orienteering Championships saw a complete reversal of the conditions confronting the GB team, with heavy overnight rain replacing the bright sunshine and heat of the previous day. The rain continued throughout the morning, making conditions underfoot very heavy and added significantly to the navigational challenge, particularly for the early starters.
The courses were, as predicted, typical of the continental style that has been the theme of most of the recent European Youth Orienteering Championships Long races. Choosing optimal routes, avoiding too much climb, and maximising the use of paths and fast open areas, where possible, was the order of the day and the key was to keep things clean and simple.
Team GB had a mixed day, but rising to the technical and physical challenges were Alastair Thomas and Lucy Haines, who both recorded highly creditable, top 20 performances in their respective classes and, in doing so, repeated their previous year's efforts in Poland.
Alastair (14th), who had travelled out on a reconnaissance mission to the area a few weeks ago, felt comfortable with the challenges presented and said:
"I was really happy with my performance today. I worked at a good pace and, because of this, felt in control and executed the race well. I know I'm close to a top position, being only a minute off the podium, and feel that this is within my grasp next year, as I'm only a first year 18 here. I'm looking forward to the relay tomorrow, as I think we have a good team and should do well."
Photo below: Alastair Thomas competing at the Championships
Lucy (14th) said:
"I felt really good going into the race and would like to thank my coach, Nick Lightfoot, for all his help in preparing me for this competition. I executed my plans well, losing only a small amount of time exiting number 6 on the start of one of the long legs, and I kept the shorter technical legs tidy through good use of picture and compass. I'm really psyched for tomorrow's relay!"
The rest of the team had some solid runs, with Finlay Todd (26th) backing up his result from the sprint, and Grace Molloy also ended up in the top 30. Eilidh Campbell (41st), Laura King (32nd), and Freddie Carcas (66th) reflected on their runs and drew out several positives, knowing that at times they were laying down splits that would have seen them placed much higher had they managed to avoid the occasional error here and there.