This weekend saw the start of the international competitive season with IOF World Cup 1 taking place in Finland. The city of Helsinki and organizing club Helsingin Suunnistajat together with Finnish Orienteering Federation hosted the competition which concluded today with the Mixed Sprint Relay.
Whilst the stifling heat caused significant problems for all athletes and teams, the terrain and planning offered some interesting technical challenges in the forest on days 1 and 2. The middle and chasing start format saw the leaders, both Swedes out on their own, but for many of the runners there was a good chance of running in a group.
Tove Alexandersson (SWE) and Gustav Bergman (SWE) won both Saturday’s Middle distance and Sunday’s Long distance. There were some strong performances from British Athletes with top 30 positions for both Ralph Street, 24th, and Megan Carter-Davies, 29th, in the Middle distance.
Ralph said “It is always exciting to finally get the racing season underway. I was pleased to deliver a stable technical performance, but I was disappointed to have not dealt with the high temperatures in a satisfactory way”
Megan said “I’ve been training around Helsinki several times with my club here and the forests are gorgeous, so I was really excited for this World Cup round. I made a few too many mistakes to be happy with my races but it’s good to see where this landed me in the results and how I can improve over summer. I’m really looking forward to the next international races now! Many thanks to Ed, Mark and Alice for supporting us out here.”
The Long proved challenging for all, after a restless night due to the heat, with Cat Taylor finishing top of the British women in 33rd and Will Gardner for the men in 43rd.
Will said “My main focus for the weekend was to cope mentally with the process of the World Cup, having come unstuck under the pressure I have put on myself in the past. I was a little frustrated in the end with the middle, as a few scrappy controls cost me a top-40. The chase was a lot better though, and to pull through nearly 20 places and show that I have the strength and fitness to compete at this level was a great sign. It was a great weekend; lovely terrain and the team atmosphere is fantastic at the moment.”
Full results from the weekend can be found below:
Monday was a rest day with most of the team returning home with just one Mixed Sprint Relay team entered for the final race Tuesday.
The team, of Jo Shepherd, Sasha Chepelin, Will Gardner and Megan Carter-Davies, was a new line up for the British Team but they performed well. Jo led the team out in 24th, Sasha then gained a few spots with some quick splits up to 20th, Will then continued his strong weekend gaining another place to 19th and setting Megan off on the final leg with something to chase. Megan had some fantastic split times with three fastest and a second fastest to bring the team home in 13th.
Peter Bray ran the second leg as part of an international team that finished 20th overall. The Swedish team took the win to complete the full house of race wins for the weekend.
Full results from the Mixed Sprint Relay are here.
The team was supported by Ed Nicholas, Senior Squad Manager, Mark Saunders and Alice Bedwell. Our sincere thanks to them for volunteering their time to support the senior team.
The next key date for the senior international calendar is the WOC test races on 7th and 8th July ahead of final selection for WOC. However, many of the team will be heading back to Finland this weekend to represent their Scandinavian clubs in the Jukola relays.