On the weekend of the 11th and 12th of June, some CUOCers found themselves competing in the northern powerhouse of Leeds, host of this year’s British Sprint Orienteering Championships, featuring both the Mixed Sprint Relay and Individual disciplines.
First up was the relay at Leeds Beckett University campus, whose main feature appears to be being nowhere near the centre of Leeds. Having survived a berating by messenger by James for his choice of train, your author made it to the arena with 4 minutes to spare before the mass start of the elite race, which featured a wealth of international and domestic talent, as well as James Ackland. His namesake was appearing for his home club and posted an extremely impressive performance on second leg which saw his team leapfrog into second place. Although they ended up in sixth, he can be glad that he didn’t end up with the same fate as my team, who were disqualified after a late mispunch. This is now the second year on the trot that my team has been disqualified from the British MSR (not my fault!), so I look forward to coming back next year as an honorary EUOC member so they too can be eliminated. Mwah hah hah.
All eyes turned to the individual races on Sunday which came in the format of heats and then a final. James cruised through to the M21E final, despite the organisers’ best efforts to pretend that the Aussies and New Zealanders were in fact from Blighty. Sarah Pedley ran well, but unfortunately just missed out on a place in the final in what was a highly competitive women’s field featuring some now world championships medallists. I had a slightly more interesting morning when I was forced to run another course due to lack of maps before then having a nervous wait to see if the results would indeed acknowledge my existence. In the end, it all turned out fine.
The final awaited, in and amongst the multi-level mayhem, the underpass unbelievability, the intricate inexplicableness, the technical treasures of the main Leeds University campus. Geeking (the art of being a bit of a nerd and preparing for the race beforehand) would prove crucial for competitors wishing to move at high speed through this urban jungle. I managed to clinch the victory on M20E by virtue of being the only one who actually went the correct way to the first control, and James finished in joint 14th place on the open category, tying with the first gentleman of British orienteering, Mr Ben Mitchell. Sarah seems to have been disqualified from the B final, but I cannot for the life of me seem to see why: punching an official maybe?
Jokes aside, this was a thoroughly enjoyable weekend of sprinting which just about all ran smoothly, despite the British rail network’s very best efforts. It also served as a nice warm up for what was to come for the more intrepid members of CUOC…