JIRC Preview


This Weekend sees the Junior Inter-Regionals come to Scotland, with the Individuals held on fast dune terrain at Gullane and the relays held at Callender Park in Falkirk (extract above and map here in the gallery), quite handily right next to the accomodation so not too early a rise in the morning. The relays promise great spectator value with all courses visiting the assembly area at least once during the course through the fast parkland and tricky woodland area.

Last year it was the North West who retained their title at Cannock Chase in a closely fought battle with the Scottish team, who had led overnight. Will the home team be able to go one better this year? Will the North West's strength be too much or is there other teams out there who can take home the title? Lets have a look at the squads:

East Anglia field a weakened team of only 10 but still boast some strong runners, mainly in the girls, with Helen Gardner out for a solid performance before travelling out to compete at JWOC. Ed Louth in M14 will be their best bet from their boys team.

East Midlands have a strong boys team but could rue their lack of W16s in the overall competition. Peter Hodkinson, a first year M14 looks like a good bet having been top 4 at most of the major races this year. Possibly with John Rocke, British Champion at M16, and Andrew Llewellyn, 2nd at the JK on M18, this could be a strong team in the relays. Rose Hodkinson, Sarah O'Neil and Sian Roberts all made the top 15 in the FCC on W18 so should expect to finish near the top at the individual.

The North East have a very young team with nobody over the age of 16. Their best chance of success comes through Catherine Taylor who has won all the major races this year, apart from the JK where she was 2nd but top Brit, and this after winning both the British and JK last year too.

The small Northern Ireland contingent lay their hopes on Meabh McCann, 2nd in the JK on W12, and M18 Paddy Higgins who will also be off to compete at JWOC this year. He has already represented Ireland at the Senior Homes in Scotland earlier this year. Rosalind Hussey on W18 could also feature quite highly.

The holders North West have decent strength throughout their squad, worth an outside bet on M14 would be their two M12 stars Matthew Vokes and Michael Beasant who have been battling each other for the top 2 spots at most of this years races. In M16, three of the four runners were at the World Schools with UVHS and all four are in the Start Squad. Will Spain and Chris Mitchell both finished highly in this years FCC series and can expect to do well, but will Chris ever get that elusive victory in this competition? Without the presence of Oleg Chepelin this year surely he must feel that this will be his year. North West's girls offer yet more experienced runners from the World Schools, Rosie Brocklebank, Rebecca Roberts and Liz Britton should expect to do well.

South Central are yet another weakened squad but should expect to pick up good points in W18 from JWOC team member Lizzie Adams who finished 2nd at BOC and the FCC series behind the absent Cerys Manning. Kitty Bray and Anne Edwards could also finish highly in W16.

South East also struggle to field a team, with only 9 boys and 3 girls making the trip north. Briony Crickmore on W14 and her brother Jonathon, M12 JK Champion, should do well on M14 as should Ralph Street - 5th at the JK and 3rd at BOC this year.

Scotland's hopes of toppling the North West are high, and though they are suffering the loss of a number of key runners, they still have quite a strong team however and should certainly not be discounted. Taking over from the missing Oleg Chepelin, Scott Fraser and Andrew Brunton are Kyle Heron, James Tullie and Danny Oliver. Kyle and James finished joint 8th overall in the FCC this year so are certainly not there to make up the numbers, and Kyle's local knowledge when going out on last leg in the relay could prove cruicial. Duncan Coombs will also be expected to figure highly but hasn't competed much over the past month or so due to illness and injury. In M16 Callum Coombs and JK Champion Douglas Tullie will be out for high finishes, Douglas having won on Gullane before, the M16 East of Scotland championships a couple of years ago. Kirsty Coombs and Abigail Longhurst, both only W12's but holders of the British and JK titles respectively, could provide a shock on W14. Rachael Smirthwaite, who hopefully will have been putting in lots of beach running in Nairn, and Holly Orr on W16 are both in the Start Squad and will expect be up there. Kirsten Strain on W18 should certainly hope for a top 3 result on home terrain.

The South West will rely on the power of SARUM's girls to grab them some high points. Ruth Holmes, JWOC reserve, along with Stef Blomquist on W18 will do well while nopesport.com's Helen Hanstock and Start Squad member Emily Benham will have high hopes on W16. Alice Butt, 2nd at BOC and 3rd at JK will be in the mix on W14 while in the boys Brendan Gould on M18 has been tipped for a shock result having come out of hibernation for this competition.

Wales will miss the great form of Cerys Manning but an outside tip would be for Lizzie Goodband who replaces her, despite being new to orienteering her fell running and cross country speed could provide a shock result. The should be strong in W14 with Becky Hoare, Anwen Darlington and her younger sister Delyth. Rhodri Buffet in M16 will provide their best hope in the boys having picked up some good results this season, winning day 2 of the JK and finishing 3rd overall.

The West Midlands have a very strong girls team and should do well in all classes. Emily Garside in W14, winner of BOC and the JK - not to mention both the classic and middle distance races at the World Schools is hotly tipped to win W14 while Tessa Hill and the Halliday sisters will also be prominent. Nopesport moderator Carol White returns north hoping her success from last week's event in Edinburgh can be repeated. Their boys team is strong in M16 with Robert Farrington, Adam Bushnell and Dan Hartmann while in M18 they have good runners in Gareth Little and Iain Embrey.

Last but by no means least is Yorkshire, who are also tipped to take some of the top spots but may also suffer through the lack of numbers in W18. Some of the best performances over the past 2 years have come from George Stevens of AIRE who is hotly tipped for success this year. British and Scottish Champion this year, as well as being top Brit at the JK. This is all on the back of being British and JK champion at M12 last year - as well as the French 5 days. He will take some stopping on M14. His sister Victoria on W16 should also expect to do well, 2nd Brit at the JK this year and a member of the Start Squad. Strength in M16 too with Hector Haines and Jack Wood while all three M18s: Dan Tett, Joe Mercer and Ben Stevens, would expect high finishes.

So thats all the teams - who's your money on? Discuss your tips for the JIRC's here. Your favourite website (thats us here at [nope] in case you didn't realise) will be providing the entertainment throughout the weekend, with many surprises lined up so we look forward to seeing you on the beach on Saturday - its going to be a good one!

Nopesport is supported by these advertisements