Sunday morning 5am. The enveloping darkness edged inexorably towards dawn. A passing meteorite broke into twinkling, descending lights. 200 junior orienteers and their coaches were assembled on a dewy school lawn amidst lush rhododendrons in deepest East Sussex. The Peter Palmer Junior Relays 2019 were ON!
A competitive field of junior teams had been assembled by the organising club Saxons Orienteering Club for this year’s race. Favourites on the start-line included last year’s winners: West Cumberland Orienteering Club (WCOC), the leading small club Guildford Orienteers (GO) and the top young team from South Yorkshire Orienteers (SYO). Juniors ran in teams across 6 legs, ranging from 2-5km, Yellow to Green standard.
The race started at 5am in total darkness. This was a chance for some of the country’s leading junior orienteers to show their Night-O skills. Joe Sunley from WCOC finished the first leg in first place, just 3 seconds ahead of Adam Conway from GO and Stanley Heap of Southdown Orienteers (SO). Joe is an accomplished Night-O runner, with experience from the regular WCOC Night League races, and international experience at the legendary Tio Mila relays in Sweden. “I executed my plan well, pulling away from the field, but dropped a 40 seconds mistake in the final loop, which allowed the other teams to get right back on my tail.” said Joe.
As second and third legs set off into the dawn, the Daybreak Relay then started at 6.30am. The Daybreak class is run across 4 legs, ranging from 2-4.5km, all at TD2-3 level. “This is a great innovation.” said Janet Cronk, the Team Manager from WAOC. “It allows more clubs to take part who can’t raise a junior team with Night-O skills.”
As the sun came up, the music and commentary provided by Nick Lightfoot of SYO added much to the atmosphere and fun of the event. WCOC proved unbeatable again for a fourth consecutive year, the whole team running in triumphantly together as they finished. An exciting race ensued for second place, with Troy Southall of SO just winning out in a magnificent sprint finish against Emil Bostrom from OK Linné in Sweden. In a repeat of last year’s other results, GO took the Norwich Anniversary Trophy for smaller clubs, and SYO won the Joan George Trophy for younger teams with total class ages 90 years or less.
“This is a wonderful opportunity for our Swedish juniors to experience international competition.” said OK Linné team manager Åsa Hedin. “We have had an excellent few days, training with the South East Junior Squad and even sight-seeing in London! The juniors can learn from the different terrain than we are used to, and we are impressed with the standard and speed of junior orienteers in UK”.
The Daybreak Relay was won this year by West Anglian Orienteering Club (WAOC). “This race was so much fun, hanging out and racing against friends.” said Alex Wetherill from WAOC. “I feel really motivated now, and plan to focus more on my training this winter”.
|Peter Palmer Trophy||A New WCOC, West Cumberland Orienteering Club (WCOC)||
|Joan George Trophy||Killer Bees, South Yorkshire Orienteers (SYO)||180.22|
|Norwich Anniversary||GO Nuts, Guildford Orienteers (GO)||235.19|
|Daybreak Trophy||The Jabberwaocs, West Anglian Orienteering Club (WAOC)||122.03|
Huge thanks go to Saxons Orienteering Club (SAX) for organising and planning the event, and to Southdowns Orienteers (SO) for coordinating the school-based accommodation.
Next year’s Peter Palmer Junior Relays take place during the weekend 12 - 13 September 2020 in the Lake District, organised by West Cumberland Orienteering Club (WCOC).