Two perspectives on winning Gold medal at the British Sprint Champs from Gavin and Lyra
Nothing philosophical this week just a personal retrospective of the British Sprint weekend:
A weekend in Skelmesdale is possibly not many peoples idea of how to spend time over the summer holidays. However for the small Wessex contingent it turned out very successful with everyone bringing home a podium place. Esk a Bronze in the individual, Jolyon Silver in the relay and both Lyra and me with Silver and Gold from the relay and individual respectively. Below is how my races panned out.
The relay was held on the Saturday and the individual on the Sunday. For most of us the individual is the important race with the relays just a warm up. My plan, which I had already discussed with Jolyon, was to just have a jog round my leg of the relay, saving myself for the Individual. With that in mind it made sense for Jolyon to run first leg, Lyra the shorter middle leg and me bringing up the rear. Jolyon set off in the mass start, being passed by all the M18s up the seriously steep 25m grass bank to the start control. We then waited, looking at the spectator control for the finishers. WCOC Yan arrived first, then 2 1/2 minutes later Jolyon in 12th place – excellent, all going to plan. Lyra set off chasing CLARO and DVO. I picked up my map roll and waited quite relaxed, in the handover pen looking up at the spectator control. WCOC Tyan came through in the lead, followed 18 seconds later by WCOC Yan, then 15 seconds after that Lyra in third place!! Expletive, expletive I thought. So much for my jog. I duly ran the third leg and managed to gain a place bringing the Wessex Raiders team home in Silver medal position. On to the Individual:
The format for the Individual sprint is to have a prologue in the morning followed by a final in the afternoon. The prologue is split into heats – three in the case of M65. Basically you have to be in the top 5 of your prologue race too get into the A Final race. The prologue is also seeded with the fastest setting off last. I was going to be setting off with just Pete Jones behind me. Looking at those in my heat, with no disrespect, unless I missed a control it should be fairly straightforward to get into the A Final. I duly set off at a steady pace but reminding myself all the time to take care, get the nav right and not worry about the speed. All went well and I was even able to jog to the finish – which was noted by the commentary team! However when the results finally went up I found I had won my prologue. Not quite what I had planned as this meant I was going to be last off in the final. Psychologically I was worried. If I push the speed for the Final will I still get the nav right? My class, currently M65 has always been seriously competitive. We all know each other and all respect our competitors abilities. There were at least six of us in with a serious shot at the title. The favourite though had to be James Crawford. Twice World Masters Champion at Sprint discipline. James had run the prologue how I intended to run it; coming third in his heat, meaning he started off in 7th place out of the 15 of us in the Final. This gave him the advantage of chasing slightly slower runners and would probably catch at least one. The eight starting after James were all extremely capable runners and navigators and not likely to catch their ‘minute man’ over the short sprint distance of 2.3k. The start arena was a nervy area. We were all acknowledging each other with a nod or thin smile, but no conversation, as we warmed up. I watched James set off 8 minutes before me. James had a cracking run, catching Mike Capper at control 4 and going on to post a time of 12 minutes dead. Gold for the time being, Pete Haines off next going into silver medal position with 12:36. Derek Fryer, Alan Rosen and Alan Leakey couldn’t better Pete’s time. Next, Pete Jones, running well and one of the hot favourites, Pete had a storming run and posted 12:07 pushing Pete H down to Bronze but 7 seconds down on James. Philip Eeles, just back from the World Masters and targeting the British Sprints next, getting everything right but loosing 20 seconds over the last half of the course posted 12:13 pushing Pete H off the podium. Second to last off Barry Elkington. A previous British Sprint Champion. Barry had a great run but only managed to post 12:20 and out of the medals. James still with Gold and just me to run. I started off conservatively, easing myself into the run. Although I didn’t know it at the time, by control 6 I was leading by 5 seconds. By control 11 it was 6 seconds. However what I did realise was that I wasn’t running fast enough and I only had 8 legs left, so I put caution to the wind and just went for it. Managing to cover those last 7 controls 3 seconds faster than James. A time of 11:47 and a British Title! A great weekend.
I was, it’s fair to say, a tad nervous for the weekend but I think the relays definitely calmed my nerves as the terrain would be slightly similar.
The Day of the relay I treated it as an event as important as the sprints the following day. I prepared well for the relays and did a lot of geeking the week prior to the event. I had also been to the area on google earth so was aware of what to expect. I watched dad head up the steep slow to the start control in the mass start, relieved that it wasn’t me in his place. It was a nervous wait for the leading 1st leg running to come into the spectator control but once the leaders from WCOC and BOC came through I started preparing myself for the race. Dad came through in a solid position of 12th past the spectator control. I watched the leading runners hand over to there 2nd leg runners and was prepared to chase them down. Dad finished his run and handed over to me. Once I picked up the map and was heading to the start I had a quick glance at the map to check the sort of course and it was at that point that I decided to slow the pace down a bit and focus on the nav as I wanted to come into Sunday’s race feeling confident with the navigation from the race before. I had a strong race and was please to see I had caught/overtaken a few of the second leg runners. I handed over to Gavin in a medal position and he brought us home to take second place. It was a well planned and executed relay from all of us, bit disappointed that Ad – Hoc don’t get medals but I was confident and excited for the next day.
It’s fair to say I am a very organised person and forced my family to arrive at the Car park on the Sunday before it was opening. it was a drizzly morning as we walked from the car park to assembly. I think we were the first non helper orienteers there 😂. I was pleased with my heat selection as I was racing my main rival, which was important to me as I could see how we compared if we both made it through to the final. I warmed up and got myself ready for my early heat race and headed to the start with 3 other fellow runners that I would be racing that day. I watched them all head out into the terrain as I was the last out in my heat. I really tried to attack the race from the start but stay on top of the nav. I was pleased to catch my 1 minute girl at number 2 and my two minute girl at number 8. I finished my race strongly with no errors to take the win in my heat by 52 seconds. I would be racing the final from second to last. My preferred place as I had someone behind me to chase me and push me on, but I was still chasing the rest of the runners. I warmed up and prepared the same way as I did in the heat and attacked my course even harder as I knew it would be close at the end of the day. I came into the finish with no clue how I had done, but knowing that I had run the race pace I wanted to with no errors. I was ecstatic to find out I had won and retained my title by 11 seconds.
It was a great weekend and it was amazing to be running at the British championships again.