Great Britain achieve 4th and 12th in the relays on the final day of WOC 2016
The World Orienteering Championships drew to a close yesterday with the forest Relays writes Liz Campbell. These are always exciting days and yesterday was no exception with GPS tracking on the big screen and a crowd of 8000 spectators.
The relay was held in the same arena as the long distance and so it was straight forward to predict where the courses might go but, of course, impossible to guess how the race would pan out and where the forking would be. The surprise on the first leg of the men’s race was that both Sweden and France made big errors whilst in contrast Norway pulled out a big lead.
Kris Jones (pictured) took the first leg for GB and, in his first ever WOC Forest race, ran a controlled and stable race coming back in 3rd place just 1’44’’ off the lead. Graham Gristwood was selected to run the second leg but injured his ankle in the middle distance and had to withdraw and so Hector Haines stepped in. Hector still had slightly tired legs from the long distance on Thursday but fought hard all the way and ran an excellent leg finishing in 4th and just 3’44’’ off the lead but importantly only 6 seconds behind Finland and a few seconds in front of Sweden.
Ralph Street took our final leg and with a cool head enjoyed the tactical battle that followed. Sweden overtook and established a small gap quite early on and GB and Finland were left to race for 4th and 5th positions. Ralph took a different route to control 15 and got a slight lead into the arena and was able to sprint away to a comfortable 4th place. The same place as last year in Darnaway with only one of the same runners and in terrain that does not suit us.
The women’s relay was just as exciting at the front end with the lead changing several times during the race. Our team was Jess Tullie on first leg, Hollie Orr on second and Jo Shepherd (pictured) on third leg, replacing Cat Taylor who was ill and unable to race. Sadly Jess made a mistake on an early control and was never able to catch up the time. She handed over to Hollie in 19th place and 5’23’’ off the lead. Hollie ran a stable race pulling the team up to 12th.
Jo has had a very tough week - she had already run three individual races and so went out with clear instructions to do her best and just enjoy her debut in the WOC relay. She returned with a broad grin on her face having loved the experience and delivered a solid race to bring the team home in 12th place. The relay position is key to deciding the overall ranking of nations and with 12th place and the Czech team way ahead of us we thought that we were doomed to drop the second division and therefore only qualify for two individual spots in the forest races at WOC 2017. In an unexpected twist of fate, the Czech girls mis-punched and were disqualified in the relay and so we have the very unexpected pleasure of maintaining our status in Division 1 for 2017 and 3 women’s places in each WOC race. We are determined to make them count!
Photo credit - Dave Rollins
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