Before the big summer competitions kick off soon, the British team for both European Youth Orienteering Championships (EYOC) and Junior World Orienteering Championships (JWOC) had the opportunity to head to Denmark for some extra “terrain time”.
Visiting this part of Denmark allowed the JWOC athletes to revisit areas near, and therefore very relevant, to this years’ competition, as well as offering EYOC athletes the chance to get some quality races under their belt before heading to Belarus in a couple of days time.
Ten hours after a 4:30am wakeup call in Edinburgh and two flights later, we touched down in the small airport at Aarhus. Although a little tired, the glorious weather persuaded us that our legs needed a shakeout in a local forest near the hotel that we were staying at, and so the team headed to an area called Vesterskov, were a group of us jogged round picking up on details about the maps and the terrain.
The sprint was the first race of the weekend; however, as our start times were not until the afternoon, people did their own thing in the morning. Some of the JWOC athletes headed to another training area, while others had a bit more of a relaxed morning having a splash around in the hotel pool and having a catch-up session with the coaches about our final preparations for the big competitions ahead.
The sprint took place in an area made up of big blocks of flats surrounded by grassland near Aarhus. Since runners were taking part from many different nations (some of who were using it as a selection race), it was great to experience a major competition atmosphere. The race itself was well planned and definitely kept runners on their toes, meaning that it provided good preparation for what is to come at EYOC.
After a shower and dinner, it was time for our evening review session, which this evening consisted of reviewing today’s sprint and discussing the similarities and differences with those to come at JWOC and EYOC. After that, we shifted our focus on the next day’s discipline – the long distance race. For the JWOC athletes, this involved them doing a bit of analysis on the area that they will be running on, however, those of us who are heading to EYOC could not do the same as there is currently no map of the long area available. Therefore, the EYOC group of Rachel Brown, Lizzie Stansfield, Rona Lindsay and I analysed other surrounding areas to which think might be relevant.
Big race day. With moderately early start times, the British team were able to get out into the Scandi skog that is Himmelbjerget in all its glory. The area itself was a lot greener than we expected, which definitely provided more physical challenges than anticipated. However, having not done an orienteering race this long before, I was pleasantly surprised about how much I enjoyed it, and how I felt during it – which, at least in part, was probably partly down to the absolutely fabulous hotel breakfast buffet. Our early start times meant that we were out of the forest by lunch time, which left a nice block of time recovery, or, in other words, for spending lots of time at the pool and in the sauna.
As we did every other evening, after dinner we headed off to our review session, which this evening looked at what we can take away from the long as well as looking forward to the middle, for both tomorrow and the JWOC competition.
The middle race took place on the same area as the previous day, yet it never got boring. The middle had about half the distance but similar climb to the long, meaning that you knew that you were in for a treat. The beginning was very runnable and fast, but quickly became very much the opposite. Middle races can be fast, but this one certainly was not. It is safe to say that quite a bit of time was spent hacking through green, and that it was definitely an area where mistakes were being made. However, in my opinion, this race was really valuable as it allowed as all, and especially the JWOC athletes, useful insight into what the JWOC areas may be like.
Overall, I loved spending a few days in Denmark and, as someone who has not participated in big international competitions before, it gave me a taste of what EYOC will be like, as well as giving me the opportunity to brainstorm in a group with other athletes about the races.
Thank you Alice! Wishing you all the very best with the rest of your training preparations.
British Orienteering would like to wish all the GB athletes selected to compete at this year's European Youth Orienteering Championships taking place in a few days time all the very best and we look forward to following the GB team's performance throughout these Championships and at the Junior World Orienteering Championships in a couple of weeks time.