Report by Mike Cope member of Claro Orienteers and Organiser of British Mixed Sprint Relays
British Sprint Weekend 11/12 June 2022
Yorkshire and Humberside Orienteering Association hosted the British Sprint Relays Championships and then the British Sprint Championships in Leeds. The weather was kind with plenty of sunshine even though it was a little windy. Map collection bags had to be retrieved a few times and one competitor even had his bib blown out of his hands into an inaccessible spot before he could even pin it on, but it was warm and no rain.
Leeds Beckett University for the Sprint Relays has never been used before for a big event. It was a superb venue with the facilities of the new Carnegie School of Sport building and then the centre of an athletics track giving lots of space for the start, finish and handover with a great view for all watching and waiting for their turn. 150 teams, a record for this relatively new event, turned up and were impressed with what the venue could offer.
The competition area was small but plenty big enough for the Sprint Relays. It is flatter than most campus areas in Yorkshire, but with a few steps and grass banks, there was still some climb and descent to do. Buildings on the campus are a mixture of old and new and they are generally well spread out giving fast running between the more complex parts. Excellent planning forced competitors to make quick decisions to find the best ways between the buildings, and out of the athletics track. Not all did the latter though, tending to follow everyone else at the start to play safe? Playing fields, bushes, bits of parkland, a big grass area and outlying buildings all added to the variety in the area giving it more of a rural feeling in a city area.
Forth Valley Orienteers (FVO) Flyers Scarlett Kelly, Chris Smithard, Kristian Jones, and Grace Molloy certainly flew to win the Elite class taking the trophy from South Yorkshire Orienteers who won last year. Just over a minute behind them were another Scotland team from Edinburgh University Orienteering Club EUOC, before third-placed South Yorkshire Orienteers 15 seconds further down. Congratulations to one of our visitor teams from New Zealand who actually came first beating Forth Vally Orienteers Flyers by 51 seconds, but of course not eligible to be British Champions. We were pleased to have some Ukrainians competing too.
South Yorkshire Orienteers did make up for losing their title by winning three other classes. Copying their older club members in name and action, Forth Valley Orienteers Junior Flyers Sam Hunt, Rebecca Hammond, and James Hammond won the Junior class. It was pleasing to see 27 Junior/Young Junior teams competing.
For Sunday and the Individual Sprint, all moved nearer to Leeds City Centre and the more familiar Leeds University campus. This was used for JK 2016. Buildings are closer with narrow passages between them, steps, undercover sections, and just the occasional greenery to brighten things up. Again plenty of old and new. Leeds University is also a bigger area capable of holding the qualifying and final heats without too much overlap. Some competitors did find the finals easier though having familiarised themselves with the map and type of terrain in the qualifying heats. Again, the planner had done a very good job to keep competitors thinking all of the time. The Women’s Elite Final was tight with only 62 seconds separating the first four places.
Megan Carter-Davies (Swansea Bay Orienteering Club) took the title with Alice Leake (Airenteers), Grace Molloy (Forth Valley Orienteers), and Charlotte Ward (Humberside and Lincoln Orienteers) close behind. Megan and Alice were neck and neck at controls 13 and 14. Gaining three seconds at each of the following two controls, Megan gradually pulled away and kept her lead.
Kris Jones (Forth Valley Orienteers) took the title in the Mens’ Elite race with clubmate Chris Smithard over a minute behind. Nathan Lawson (Octavian Droobers) took third place. Our visitors from New Zealand did well again. There would have been different winners had they been eligible for a British Championships.
Mention must be made of the helpers who made it possible to put the events on. Complimentary comments afterward from many participants made it all worthwhile, but it did need a lot of work from many people to make it all happen.
And one last point. There is unlikely to be a British Sprint Relay Championships next year as no club/region has offered to host it. The Individual Sprints will be with the British Middles in Northern Ireland. Wearing his Event Scheduling Group hat instead of his Organiser one, Mike Cope would love to hear from any club that might consider hosting the British Sprint Relays.
Photo credits: Wendy Carlyle (Official Photographer and member of Airienteers)