By Bob Haskins, Leicestershire Orienteering Club (LEI)
Saturday 14 September 2019 turned out to be a warm and sunny early Autumn day. It couldn’t have been better for holding the British Sprint Championships at Loughborough University.
There were 800 entrants who were able to enjoy a day of fast, and at times complex, sprint orienteering. The Event Centre was at one of the University’s main facilities buildings, thanks to holding the event out of term time, and had plenty of capacity for enquiries, starts and results displays, and download. Loughborough University is the premier sporting campus in the UK, and the University authorities were very accommodating, as they had been when the event was held here previously in 2013. It is also the largest single campus site in the country and we still have about one third of the campus which has not been used for a Championship event. It is also a quickly changing environment, and our mapper, Peter Hornsby was making changes up until just a few days prior to the event.
As the available area is so large, it enables the heats and finals to be on adjoining areas, but with no overlap. This makes life more difficult for the
Planner, Iain Phillips, of course, who effectively plans two separate large events for use on one day with 40+ separate courses and 150+ control sites. However, this makes for a much more interesting event for the competitors, with the most complex areas being used for the Finals.
From an organisational point of view, having good facilities makes putting on the event a bit less challenging. There is a 630-space multi-storey car park available, so no muddy fields for us. The arena area seemed to work well and it was possible to look down over the finish run-in from the grass banks or the hard standing next to the event centre.
The biggest challenge of the Sprints is the timetable for the day. We started all the morning heats over one hour, setting off 20 competitors at a time in full minutes. This was thanks to our 18-member start team and some pre-event practices and much thinking. The big pressure then comes to process the heats into the start lists for the Finals, and we were very thankful that this was contracted out by us to SIEntries. The printout I have of the finals start lists shows a time of 12:38 pm, ready for the first finals starts at 1:30 pm. The Finals were over a larger window, and therefore a bit more relaxed.
The Open class Final was also a World Ranking Event which necessitated a variation from normal practice, in that all the three finals were the same course. Only an A Finalist could be British Champion, but any of the finalists could win the WE race. As it turned out it was the British Champions who won this race as well. For the first time at the British Sprints, there were also separate class medals for M/W 18 and 20. We also altered the usual ordering of the Finals, so that we had a stream of A Final winners coming in at regular intervals, culminating in the Open Class finalists at the end of the afternoon with most competitors back and watching this exciting finale and listening to the excellent commentary.
Kris Jones started strongly in the morning sprint qualifying race, winning his heat by over a minute. He followed this up with a superb run in the afternoon final, winning in 12.27 over 3km, 47 seconds clear of Peter Hodkinson in 2nd place and Jonny Crickmore in 3rd.
Megan Carter-Davies also won both her heat and final, finishing the final in 11.44 for 2.3km, ahead of Alice Leake (2nd) and Cecile Andersen (3rd).
Photo credits: Bob Haskins (LEI)
Full results are available here.
Congratulations go to all the British champions!
British Orienteering would like to thank Bob Haskins (LEI) and all members from the organising clubs for an excellent day of Sprint racing.