fcc :: National & FCC Event 1

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If only all the forest had been like this

National Event 1, hosted by Sarum at Big Wood, was not only a good test of early season fitness but also the scene of the first round of the 2008 Future Champions Cup, as well as being a Start Squad and summer tour selection race. The FCC is the premier junior orienteering series in the calendar, the finals of which are open to the top 15 qualifiers in each age group and are used as the basis of selection for the Junior World Championships, to be held in Sweden early this summer.

Given the event's importance it attracted a large number of juniors from across the country, with a significant contingent making the long journey down from Scotland. Given how far some had travelled for the race, aside for the early FCC points scored or the opportunity to get some racing practice against their peers ahead of the JK, I wonder how many wished they had stayed closer to home for races. In the North they could have enjoyed the more technical burn up on Balmedie, or even a slog round Burbage in Yorkshire, either of which would have been a far more appealing prospect in hindsight than than doing battle with brambles and inconsistent mapping at Big Wood.

The Scots who had made the long journey faired well though in some closely fought classes, M16, M18 and W16 in particular. Jamie Stevenson from Forth Valley proving he can make a name for himself, winning the 8km M16 course in a time of 50:42, just 16 seconds clear of Jonathan Crickmore of Southdowns. Thomas Fellbaum from Manchester a further 2 minutes down in 3rd place but comfortably clear of the following pack of runners. In M14 Jack Benham of Sarum was 3 minutes clear of Craig Thomson of FVO with a time of 32:36 for the 5.2km course. Duncan Taylor from Devon was a further couple of minutes down. The top three on the 3.6km M12 class were separated by just over half a minute with Harrison McCartney, an M10 from Octavian Droobers, pipping Nick Jarvis from Southdowns by 13 seconds, with Tim Morgan from Southampton a further 19 seconds down.

In W14 Lucy Butt of Sarum won the 4.3km course in a time of 33:47 with Zoe Harding of South Ribble and Shona Masson of Mole Valley in second and third, 3 and 6 minutes behind respectively, although Zoe Harding could have been much closer were it not for a couple of costly mistakes. In W16 Katrin Harding of South Ribble was just under 45 seconds clear of Kirstin Maxwell of Roxburgh Reivers, Isla Simmons of Bristol a further 90 seconds down.

In the FCC classes, on M18 David Abrams from Guildford Orienteers, already famous this year after featuring on the BBC report on orienteering, was just 19 seconds clear of Alastair McLeod from Invoc, who was only a further 4 seconds clear of Tom Beasant of Deeside. All three proving to be closely matched throughout the race which had a winning time of just under 62 minutes for the 9.6km course, McLeod perhaps benefiting from racing with Tom Ryan for the latter half of the race. Chris Smithard of Deeside was just under a minute clear of GB Junior Squad member Rhodri Buffet with a time of 75:40 for the 12.1km M20 course, with Michael McIver of Lakeland a further 4 minutes adrift. Winning over half the legs on the course, Buffet will be ruing a mistake of almost 3 minutes at the 4th control and a further 2 minute loss at the 9th, as without these he would surely have been comfortably clear.

Only three took part on W20, with Victoria Stevens of AIRE winning the 8km course in a time of 61:58. Liz Britton from Manchester in 2nd was less than 2 minutes down, and the result would probably have been closer had it not been for an ankle injury she suffered halfway through the race. In W18 Julia Blomquist was a comfortable winner, completing the 6.2km course in a time of 36:27, 4 minutes clear of GB Junior Squad member Alice Butt of Sarum with Ebor's Alice Leake a further 2 minutes back.

So some good early points for those who attended and with three from seven races to score, and all three individual races at the JK counting for the FCC, there could be some competitors in very favourable qualifying positions by the end of the Easter weekend. Full scores, and details of this year's FCC series are available here while results and splits are available here.

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