Catherine Taylor took 5th place in a closely fought Middle distance final at today’s European Orienteering Championships. The Middle distance is the most technically demanding distance in orienteering, testing the athlete’s ability to navigate quickly and smoothly through the detailed terrain. Today’s terrain was similar to yesterday’s qualification, with steep slopes and hilly terrain again the order of the day, although the terrain today was bushier than that of the qualification. The men faced 5.4km with 300m of climb whilst the women faced 4.3km with 230m of climb, with the estimated winning time being 35 minutes in each race.
Matthias Kyburz (SUI) took his second gold medal of the week by winning the men’s race in a time of 34:25, over one minute faster than second position. Alasdair Mcleod, Ralph Street and Alexander ‘Sasha’ Chepelin were Britain’s representatives in the final, making it through the qualification race yesterday.
Ralph Street finished in 31st place and said: "If you would have said before the race that I would beat five Swede’s, I would have expected to be satisfied. My race was average, but I would have liked to be a bit better than I was today".
Only one of the six Swedish male athletes qualified for today’s final, so Ralph’s sense of humour remains. Alasdair Mcleod finished just behind Ralph in 35th place. "My race was OK, with some mistakes at the start, but I don’t think I have had enough experience in the terrain to do much better today. I’m neither particularly happy nor disappointed after the race."
Sasha Chepelin, running in his first senior championships, finished in 45th place. "I knew that I had expended quite a lot of energy in qualifying yesterday, so I am not surprised with how the race went today. I enjoyed parts of the race, but I struggled with the physicality required to race at this level two days in a row."
The women’s race was won by Marika Teini (FIN) in 35:44. However, the women’s race was much closer fought than the men’s, with the top three within 20 seconds. Representing Great Britain were Jess Tullie, Jo Shepherd, Charlotte Watson and Cat Taylor, with all four British women qualifying to the final. Jo and Jess struggled in today’s race, finishing in 40th and 49th place respectively.
Jess Tullie noted that today was "a simple bad day". Charlotte Watson was more satisfied with her race, finishing in 27th position. "I had a scrappy run and felt like I could have dealt with some of the challenges better. I’m frustrated because I know it could have been better, but also pleased as it is my best senior result so far and a good stepping stone, with lots of things I can work on to improve".
Cat Taylor had the standout run of the day and held a medal position up until the final few finishers. Cat finished in 5th position, just 1:41 behind the gold medal. "I was really, really nervous after yesterday, but ran quite cleanly until the end, where I made a few small mistakes. I felt like I was running in Mulgrave woods. I’m really pleased to put together a good race in an important race, but it was a very nervous wait to find out my final position."
The prize giving for the Middle distance, featuring the top 6 athletes, takes place after tomorrows Mixed Sprint Relay.