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.
Team GB went into today's Middle Final at Bocsa knowing that the race would be one of the most demanding in JWOC history. The planner, as expected, had saved the trickiest elements of the area for the runners in the final and he created courses that were unremitting in their technicality and intensity. The athletes were confronted by a maze of juniper, much of it impenetrable, and this required labyrinth-style navigation for nearly the entirety of the race, with virtually no let up in its mental demands.
Most of the 6 A finalists from the team were seeded for early starts and this undoubtedly meant they were at a disadvantage, as the later runners could use the tracks that appeared through some of the denser vegetation to their gain. It was some time into the race before the winning times began to come down and they stayed around three to three and a half minutes above the planned EWT, demonstrating how hard it was for even the world's best juniors to conquer this area.
Fiona Bunn and Alastair Thomas fell foul of the compulsory run-through, having not followed the tapes through the arena, a set-up which also caught out multi JWOC gold medallist, Simona Aerbersold, and all were subsequently disqualified. In the Men's race, it was a Swedish 1-2-3, with Jesper Svensk leading the medal charge and in the Women's race, it was the local favourite, Csilla Gardonyi (HUN), who took gold. For Great Britain, Niamh Hunter in 41st and
Matthew Fellbaum in 40th was again the best runners, as in yesterday's qualifier.
Tomorrow's relay promises to be a different affair, as the competition moves to the semi-open,
forested dunes of Tazlar, and the going will be lightning fast. Team GB is hoping to bounce back with a strong showing in the last race of the 2018 JWOC programme and leave with good memories of what has been a challenging week!
Entries for the British Sprint and Middle Championships are now open!
You can enter the Championships through SiEntries.
Early entries close on Sunday 15 July 2018.
Entry fees will rise after Sunday 15th July and will close on Sunday 12th August 2018.
To enter, all participants must be a member of British Orienteering or their National Orienteering Federation.
There will be no entries available for Championship courses after this date.
England took the win by just 3 points at the Junior Home Internationals in Dolgellau, mid-Wales at the weekend 7-8 October. They went into the lead after the individual day on Saturday, and although Scotland put up a good fight, winning both Junior Men’s & Women’s Relays on Sunday, England won overall.
Wales and Ireland shared 3rd place with some good Irish runners in the individual race, and the Welsh performing well in the Relays.
The win by England means they have won all three Home International matches this year – Juniors, Seniors and Veterans.
Congratulations to all teams.
Summary results for Junior Home Internationals 2017:
Full results available at www.mid-wales-orienteers.org.uk
All photos kindly supplied by Wendy Carlyle
British Orienteering would like to take this opportunity to thank Mid-Wales Orienteering Club for organising this superb event and congratulate all of the teams who took part.