The JWOC Relays in Tazlar today were the final races of the JWOC 2018 programme and Team GB bounced back in style from their disappointments in the middle, as the Women's 1st team recorded the best result by a female British trio in the discipline and the Men's 1st team put down the third best result in a JWOC relay and ended up only ten seconds away from what would have been a historic podium double. The team had gone into the races knowing that they had the physical speed and the technical preparation to cope with the challenges of the area and it was all about putting together three complete performances in a row.
In the Women's race, Fiona Bunn headed out first and, although she dropped some time on the first gaffle, she kept her composure and began to claw the front runners back-in. Having been 1:24 down at the second radio control, she managed to gain back 30 seconds over the next 3k and sent out Grace Molloy in joint 8th place. Over the next 4k, Grace ran a superb race and reduced the deficit to only 38 seconds and climbed to 5th as she headed through the arena and onto the final loop. A small wobble saw her lose around a minute, but the damage was minimal, as she handed over to Chloe Potter in 6th and only 40 seconds away from a medal. Chloe then ran the best race she'd ever had in a GB vest, as she climbed to 3rd at the half way point and even flirted with the lead as she approached the spectator control. Some small misses meant the chasing pack reeled her in, but a turn of speed into the finish straight saw her hold off both Sweden and Switzerland to claim 4th place and put the women's team onto the podium. Afterwards, Chloe said "I can't believe it - I beat Simona Aebersold, a JWOC multi-gold medalist. I'm absolutely buzzing!". The 2nd team, made up of Emma Wilson, Laura King and Niamh Hunter, performed admirably as well, ending as the 5th best placed 2nd team, with both Laura and Niamh pulling up places throughout their runs, to end in 20th position in the overall standings.
Meanwhile, the Men's race was also developing into an exciting affair. Experienced first leg runner, Alex Carcas , started well, but then had a difficult middle spell, with a number of small misses and left Aidan Rigby with a gap of around 2 minutes to make up to the main pack. Aidan then ran a controlled leg, with only a few minor mistakes and pulled up 9 places, to leave Matthew Fellbaum in 13th and around 2 minutes back from the podium. Although extremely tired from his week's exertions, Matthew managed to pull yet another consistent run out of the bag and gradually moved through the field. By the arena passage, he'd reeled in the pack of Finland, France, Poland and Switzerland and was within touching distance of the podium. However, it was not to be, as the three runners in front just managed to hold him off as he headed into the finish straight, but it was a tremendous effort, in the end, to get that close and it was the Men's team's best result since Denmark in 1995. The Men's 2nd team had also begun well, with Eddie Narbett having the run of the day on the first leg, coming back in 4th and only 19 seconds off the lead. Alastair Thomas and Daniel Spencer, tired from their exertions at both EYOC and JWOC, ran as well as they could, but it was just one race too far for their young legs and they ended up in 27th position overall and 10th placed 2nd team.
The team now head back home tomorrow with some great memories of what has been an eventful week, with outstanding performances in the relay and the sprint, and we wish them luck with the rest of the season, as many in the team now begin their preparations for JEC in the autumn.