Two British runners went in each of three heats in the Men's and Women's qualification races, with the top 20 in each heat making it through to the A-Final tomorrow. The terrain in Viitapojah was technically and physically tough, with the early legs especially providing a real challenge to the athletes.
Alexander Chepelin opted for an early start in Men's Heat 3 and was the first athlete to the finish. He put in a very impressive run to take 5th in a competitive heat, containing the reigning junior world champion, Joey Hadorn. Matthew Felbaum also went in heat 3, but due to an early error narrowly missed out on qualification, coming home in 24th. Harrison McCartney qualified strongly in Heat 2, finishing 8th. Despite a very strong start, on pace with the eventual winners, Nathan Lawson made a mistake near the end and eventually finished in 42nd.
Men's Heat 1 saw a very secure run from Alex Carcas, with him qualifying comfortably in 9th place. Alex said 'the ground was really easy to fit to the map and this helped me to pick good routes through the terrain. I was very happy to qualify in this, my first JWOC, and I'm looking forward to a strong run tomorrow.'
Alistair Masson also made his JWOC debut in heat 1, but unfortunately missed out on qualification, coming home in 29th position.
In the Women's Qualification, the story was much the same, with three girls out of the six qualifying. A fast and accurate run from Grace Malloy saw her finish in 4th in heat 1, just 1:24 off the time of Veera Klemettinen (Finland). She said, “I'm really happy with my run and enjoyed being out in the forest.”
Only 18 seconds behind Grace was Jennifer Rickets, who also put in an impressive run to finish 5th in the heat. Fiona Bunn gave a strong effort in Heat 3, battling both an ankle injury and a cold, to qualify in 11th position. Chloe Potter also went in heat three and, despite a quick start, saw mistakes in the middle section of the course put her out of the qualification spots, ending the race in 33rd. Cecilie Anderson and Alice Rigby both ran in heat 2 and both narrowly missed out on a top twenty finish, finishing in 21st and 25th respectively.
Full results from the qualification are available here. The Middle Distance Final is tomorrow in the area adjacent to today's qualification. We wish all of the British runners the best of luck. Follow the final live from 10:00 BST via www.jwoc2017.fi.
Report from Aidan Rigby