Today's final race of the JEC 2018 programme was one filled with controversy and, unfortunately, was not the finale the race organisers nor the competitors would have wanted.
The day started brightly, with the M20's and W20's rolling out in a mass start on the first of their three loops high up on the Col de Bretaye and into the alpine meadows, where fast running across the open land was mixed with tricky patches of highly technical orienteering, set to catch-out the unwary. This one-man relay format was working well, as the leaders of the two classes came through, closely followed by strong running packs in some exciting head-to-head racing, and gradually the gaffling began to unfold. In the men's class, Eddie Narbett and Tom Lines were in touching distance and around the top twenty placings, and it was a shame that Freddie Carcas had not recovered from his knee injury sustained the previous day and, instead, had to take up a spectator's position to cheer his team-mates on. In the women's race, the GB trio of Lindsay Robertson, Emma Wilson and Laura King all came through just off the front group, with only Fiona Bunn detached from the pack after missing on controls 3 and 4 and it was not to be her day after two great races over the weekend.
Soon, the 20's were joined by the mass start of the M and W18 classes and the arena became a frantic scramble of maps and runners coming through at increasingly shorter intervals. Daniel Spencer and Alastair Thomas were both in contention after one loop, with David Bunn not too far back from this group, but a hobbling Alastair Thomas returned a short while later, having twisted his ankle and dropped out of the race. The W18's first of two loops also saw Tara Schwarze-Chintapatla, Niamh Hunter and Anika Schwarze-Chintapatla come through with the leaders and the race was looking good for all three. Eilidh Campbell then emerged to complete the quartet and they all began their final loop, before heading down towards the finish.
It was then that the drama began to unfold, with three of the top M20's running down through the start arena, across the tapes and past the spectators, to begin their descent on the track towards the finish. It appeared strange to the crowd that this would be the optimal route and a worried planner and controller made their way swiftly out of the start area. It became apparent, quite quickly, that all was not well. As the runners and coaching staff arrived back at the finish, the arena was alive to rumours of multiple OOB transgressions and possible disqualification of many of the top competitors and it was not long before a jury had been called, with team leaders in attendance, to debate the outcome. On the maps, there were patches of OOB that crossed the main track and this had led to confusion and a lack of clarity on whether the road was passable or not and this, being the fastest route, meant many of the race leaders had taken this and were now faced with disqualification. The jury took time to debate the issue and, having considered all the available options, decided that the fairest result was to finish the race at the last radio control, before the controversial long leg.
Overall, an unsatisfactory end to what had otherwise been an enjoyable JEC, but this should not distract from several stand-out GB performances on the day. In the W18 class, Tara Schwarze-Chintapatla and Niamh Hunter recorded 9th and 10th places respectively, Laura King (17th) was the best-placed W20, with Emma Wilson in 21st not far behind her. Tom Lines (21st) was the best M20, with Eddie Narbett (29th) also holding onto a top 30 place. The rest of the team saw Daniel Spencer (32nd), David Bunn (54th), Fiona Bunn (33rd) and Eilidh Campbell (48th) in their respective classes, with Lindsay Robertson and Anika Schwarze-Chintapatla both unfortunately miss-punching.
Full results are available here.
The team now head back from Geneva to rest their weary and battered bodies and reflect on a long domestic and international racing programme, before they begin to make their plans for an assault on the 2018/19 season.