World Universities 2014

PictureTwo weeks ago I arrived in Heathrow to meet up with the team for the World University Orienteering Championships which this year were taking place in Olumouc, in the Czech republic.

I had just two days to settle in before running my first race, the sprint relay. At World Universities the running order is different to at the World Championships and I was looking forward to a chance to run the last leg. Kirstin, Peter and Lucy ran before me and all had solid performances to send me off in 7th position, 30 seconds behind Russia and a little ahead of Finland. I ran hard and caught up to 6th place but a long fork just before the spectator meant that despite my best efforts I couldn’t make up any places. Still as a team we were satisfied and it was a great way to kick off the week.Map
ResultsNext up, two days later, was the race I saw as the main event. The sprint was around a zoo and although I did not expect it to be the terrain most suited to me I knew I could do well. Unfortunately I made one mistake which cost me. Firstly I rushed too much on the fourth control which was a tricky short leg to a forest pit. I spotted the womens control and ran to that, confusing myself and losing around 20 seconds. Still, the rest of the race was good and I ran into an ok 11th position, a little disappointed. I was particularly please to feel strong on the hills, 120m of climb in 2.5km is a lot.Map
ResultsNow the races were coming thick and fast, no more rest days. Next up came the middle distance. I was really excited to run a discipline that I don’t often get a chance to run internationally. Warming up however I was shocked by how vague the warm up map seemed. Lots of very small, indistinct features, with lightning fast running, made it a bit difficult for me to understand how I was going to approach the race. In the end the majority of the race was not much like the warm up map, with a lot of sections of thick forest to break up the fast running and provide solid navigational features. However the first two controls were and I lost 40 seconds on each of them. Damn, perhaps my lack of middle practise shined through a bit there. I ran pretty well for the most part after that, losing small pieces of time in a number of places but nothing big. The damage had been done however and I was again disappointed with 27th place. Same story as the sprint the day before really, a couple of controls hiding a pretty decent race.Map
Results

The week ended with the relay, which was back on the same area as the day before. I had been given first leg which I was really pleased with. I pushed hard at the start to ensure that I was up near the front and settled into a good rhythm around the first section of the course, recognising where other runners could be useful and where I needed to do my own thing. Near the spectator we entered a thick bit of forest and when we came out it was just me and Swedens Rasmus Anderson in the lead. It stayed this way, despite my attempts to lose it by missing right near the end, and I handed over to Peter in second, 6 seconds behind Sweden and 30 seconds ahead of the chasing pack. Peter and last leg runner Jonny both ran really well but we couldn’t quite match the class of the teams above us. Still, we were chuffed with 4th place and ensured we ended the week on a high.

Map
Results

Thanks must be given to British University and Colleges Sport and Kukri for helping the team to compete at these championships. I would also like to thank Sheffield Hallam University, Welsh Orienteering and Swansea Bay Orienteering Club for their personal support.


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The team after the relay

 

Huippuliiga and Esi-Jukola

PictureLast weekend I went to Finland for a flying visit. I left Swansea at midnight on Friday morning and arrived back at 2am on Monday morning. In all I probably spent more than 24 hours of the weekend in a plane, train, car or bus.

I had travelled out to meet up with Lillomarka team-mates Gaute and Nico where we would compete in the Finnish league (Huippuliiga) sprint on the Saturday, and experience the Jukola 2015 terrain by running the Esi-Jukola relay on the Sunday. It looked like a great weekend of races and fitted in perfectly with the World University Championships, giving me two quality competitions just over a week before the first races begin.The biggest decision of the weekend came before the start of the sprint. Should I wear a T-shirt under the supplied (small) number vest and risk boiling in the heat or run the race showing a lot of belly. I didn’t have to option of a vest as I had not packed one and so I chose the latter and I can’t say it is my best look. Can we not have safety pins?

Unfortunately, despite having good speed for the majority of the sprint race, I was also a prize muppet for a significant proportion and finished in 13th place. Perhaps I was still tired from the travelling, perhaps I wasn’t disciplined enough or maybe the sun reflecting off my stomach distracted me, who knows. However looking at the splits shows that there was promise in my performance and hopefully the race will serve to iron out some of the kinks before next week.

Results
GPS tracking

The relay went much better, possibly because my belly wasn’t on show? I ran a solid first leg, really enjoying the terrain and handing over just under 2 minutes behind the breakaway leader with a sneaking suspicion that I had run the longer forking at some stage in the race. Nico ran a great race pulling us up to the lead and with Gaute fighting on the final leg Lillomarka remained contention right until the end, finishing in 4th place.

Results
GPS tracking

Next stop is the Czech republic for the World University Championships.