Today's sprint race saw runners starting in Tartu Town Square before a long uphill run to get to the University, set in wooded parkland.
Courses then looped around the park, down the hill for an urban section including an arena run-through, and then back up and down the hill on a second loop before finishing in the Town Square. The damp weather meant that running was quite difficult, both on the steep grass banks and on the cobblestones in the old town. Bad news for GB overnight was that Kris Jones had decided not to run in order to protect his calf injury and be ready for the Sprint Relay on Sunday, but that still left five GB runners.
In the Women’s race, Megan Carter-Davies finished in 28th place, Jo Shepherd in 30th place and Alice Leake in 35th place.
Speaking afterwards Megan said:
“This was my first World Championships and it has been a great experience. My race today did not go as smoothly as I would have liked, I felt rushed and missed some routes. I was disappointed when finishing but in retrospect, it's quite an accomplishment getting to the World Orienteering Championships Sprint Final in my first year as a senior and I'm happy to have laid down a solid result today. Overall I’m really pleased with a top-30 result.”
Photos below (left to right): Chris Smithard, Alice Leake, Megan Cater-Davies, Jo Shepherd, Peter Hodkinson.
Photo above (left to right): Chris Smithard and Peter Hodkinson
In the Men’s race, the two GB runners finished just 0.7 seconds apart, with Peter Hodkinson in 13th getting ahead of Chris Smithard in 14th only on the run-in. Both were understandably thrilled, as well as a little surprised, with their results.
“It was one of the most physical sprint races I've done and I think my good running speed this year was crucial. I didn’t hold back and fought hard to the finish after losing some time not seeing the best route to control 1, taking the left-hand route when the middle route was faster. From then on I had a really good clean run, and the course was technically quite straightforward. I'm over the moon with 13th place, which feels like a breakthrough for me and gives me huge confidence that I can mix it with the best in the world. I now know that top 10 is totally achievable.
Peter’s “route-choice error” on control 1 cost him about 15 seconds, and he then spent the whole of the rest of the course gradually catching Chris. They had identical splits at the last control, but Peter just edged Chris out down the run-in.
“I had an almost perfect run, and I don’t think I could have done much better. I made one small mistake running the wrong side of a building out of control 11. After the arena run-through I was worried that I wasn’t running fast enough, but then there was another hilly section near the end that really hurt.”
The British camp is in excellent spirits after today. Everybody is now looking forward to tomorrow’s Sprint Relay which takes place in Viljandi, about 40 miles west of Tartu.
Photos: Simon Errington