Team GB went into today's Middle Final at Bocsa knowing that the race would be one of the most demanding in JWOC history. The planner, as expected, had saved the trickiest elements of the area for the runners in the final and he created courses that were unremitting in their technicality and intensity. The athletes were confronted by a maze of juniper, much of it impenetrable, and this required labyrinth-style navigation for nearly the entirety of the race, with virtually no let up in its mental demands.
Most of the 6 A finalists from the team were seeded for early starts and this undoubtedly meant they were at a disadvantage, as the later runners could use the tracks that appeared through some of the denser vegetation to their gain. It was some time into the race before the winning times began to come down and they stayed around three to three and a half minutes above the planned EWT, demonstrating how hard it was for even the world's best juniors to conquer this area.
Fiona Bunn and Alastair Thomas fell foul of the compulsory run-through, having not followed the tapes through the arena, a set-up which also caught out multi JWOC gold medallist, Simona Aerbersold, and all were subsequently disqualified. In the Men's race, it was a Swedish 1-2-3, with Jesper Svensk leading the medal charge and in the Women's race, it was the local favourite, Csilla Gardonyi (HUN), who took gold. For Great Britain, Niamh Hunter in 41st and
Matthew Fellbaum in 40th was again the best runners, as in yesterday's qualifier.
Tomorrow's relay promises to be a different affair, as the competition moves to the semi-open,
forested dunes of Tazlar, and the going will be lightning fast. Team GB is hoping to bounce back with a strong showing in the last race of the 2018 JWOC programme and leave with good memories of what has been a challenging week!