No chocolate in sight, but plenty of orienteering at the JK
The JK is one of, if not the, most important race in Britain's orienteering calendar. The race is held annually over the Easter weekend in memory of Jan Kjellstrom, one of the founders of orienteering in this country. A few thousand competitors from all around the world, including a handful of CUOC members, descended on the Graythwaite estate in the heart of the Lake District this year to enjoy a weekend of glorious sunshine and some running too. The area was ideal: technical but with variety and runnable if you ignore the hills (being an East Anglian born and bred I found them more mountainous than hilly!). Having been entered a while back by my family it was with a small amount of amusement that a couple of weeks before the race I found out I was running the elite course! However this did mean on the first day I got to run a shorter course on the first day even if I would be running against some Great Britain Senior Squad internationals. Doing the classic distance of 7.5km with 450m of climb for two days would have finished me off!
The first day wasn't particularly fun, especially with the steep uphill start with an audience - I knew I wasn't that fit but completely losing any ability to navigate for the first half of the course meant my sister had already overtaken me by the second control - I knew I was going to see her but I hadn't thought it would be so soon. Despite my hardest efforts I didn't finish last. Although my sister suggested dropping down to the long course for the following day I decided I wouldn't be beaten and was hoping I wouldn't be overtaken by the entire chasing start.
Despite it being almost double the distance day 2 was much more enjoyable. The commentary and atmosphere of the assembly field was fantastic. There had been some coverage by Sky TV organised so everyone had put on their best sets of lycras and nylon pyjamas (but lets be honest no O-kit is at all fashionable except maybe my club mate's teletubby trousers). After trying hard to lose my SI card at the start I was off. Trying to ignore all my fellow competitors running past me at regular intervals (although one very helpfully led me into a control when I was about to head off somewhere else entirely!) I finally remembered that I could navigate. This provided me with a great deal of satisfaction when several controls after they had first past me I found all the speedy people who had obviously been running around in circles for a while - what a waste of energy. Punching the spectator control I even got a mention on the commentary although it was at first as my identical twin-sister Suzy until I told them otherwise. Despite my better run everyone else on my course had decided to do one better and I was last that day but I enjoyed it much more so that it didn't matter. The starts were arranged perfectly so most people had finished when the top elite competitors were finishing to rounds of applause. Jamie Stevenson was the man of the moment and Hannah Wootton topped the women's course.
On the bank holiday Monday many people were very tired and regretting such enthusiastic Easter egg munching but were still determined to do their clubs proud in the relay. Again the weather was on our side and there was much excitement, particularly as to which uni team would triumph between the big rivals Sheffield and Edinburgh. Though it was close the Scottish lads managed to claim the victory this year. Well done to Alan's 8th in M21L, Corrinne's 3rd in W20s, Ali's 14th and Blanka's 20th in W21L in the individual days. These are the only people I know who were there so apologies to anyone I've forgotten. Maybe next year we could have a big enough turn out to put together some relay teams? Something to aim for anyway...
Written by Nicola Robertson