British Spring Cup Success

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This weekend in Hillerd, Denmark, several thousand competitors, including many Brits, have been taking part in the Spring Cup. This annual event traditionally marks the start of the Scandinavian orienteering season, and as such attracts a strong field. Three races take place over the weekend, a short night race on Friday, a classic race on Saturday and then on Sunday a Relay which is always a closely contested affair. The terrain in this region often consists of undulating forest with good runnability and some areas of thicker forest, coupled with large path networks, making for high speed racing with winners typically running around 5 min/kms.

British runners, particularly the juniors, have had great success in recent years, last year seeing Anne Edwards and Rebecca Roberts take 2nd and 3rd places respectively, while the under 18 men's relay team of Dave Schorah, John Rocke and Doug Tullie also finished in 3rd. This year was to prove just as successful, as the British and Irish Junior Squads were joined by other national junior squads from the Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, Poland and Switzerland, offering an early season indication of strength prior to the Junior World Championships in Sweden this summer.

In Friday's short race Nick Barrable was one of only a handful of Brits taking part. Nick took 3rd place on men's elite, just over two minutes down on Finland's Jarkko Laine who won the 6.6km course in a time of 36:54. Sweden's Frida Andersson won the woman's elite course comfortably, while Ireland's Mary Healy was 2nd on W50.

The classic was a much more contested affair as the event never fails to attract a strong elite field which, coupled with the fast running, leads to close times across the classes. In the M18 Elite class Switzerland's Matthias Kyburz won by just one second from Denmark's Rasmus Thrane Hansen. Ralph Street of South London led the way for the British runners, finishing just under five minutes down in 8th place, while Alasdair McLeod from Invoc was a further four minutes down in 16th.

In W18 Elite Britain had three in the top twenty, Sarum's Alice Butt leading the way in 5th place, six minutes down on winner Signe Klinting from Denmark but only seven seconds off third place. Maroc's Hazel Wright was 11th with a time of 50:35, 9 minutes down, while Mairead Rocke finished a further couple of minutes adrift in 16th place.

Denmark's Maja Alm won W20 Elite by two minutes with Hollie Orr four minutes down in 4th place. In M20 Elite it was a Czech one-two, as Stepan Kodeda beat Adam Chromy, last year's JWOC sprint champion, by four seconds to win the 9.4km course in a time of 49:12. Edinburgh University's Douglas Tullie finished 6th, amongst closely packed results, with a time of 52:20 while John Rocke and Rhodri Buffett sneaked into the top twenty in 19th and 20th spots a further 4 minutes back.

In the men's elite it was an Ulricehamn's 1-2 as Erik hlund won by over two minutes from Dominik Koch with a time of 64:31 for the 13km course, Yuri Omelchenko taking 3rd, Neil Northrop, running for Vsters, was top of the Brits in 55th with a time of 75:26, a couple of minutes clear of Nick Barrable who finished in 66th. In the women's elite Signe Ses won by 90 seconds from Vroni Knig-Salmi, her time of 55:17 for the 9.4 km course was four minutes quicker than the chasing field which included Simone Niggli-Luder in 5th place. Jenny Johnson finished in 10th with a time of 63:29, just a minute clear of fellow Brit Pippa Whitehouse who took 64:24.

In today's relay things started brightly for Britain across a number of the classes with some great first leg performances.

Rhodri Buffett ran an exceptional first leg to come home 3rd place, four seconds back and amongst the leading pack of eleven runners, completing the 11km course in 55:48. Further back was Nick Barrable in 35th running for Ravinen. John Rocke had second leg duty for the British juniors and came back just over three minutes down, sending Doug Tullie out in 9th having run one of the fastest times for the leg to climb a place to 8th. Hector Haines was on last leg duty, setting off four minutes ahead of Jamie Stevenson running for Farum Tisvilde.

Stevenson, fresh(!) from running a 10km road race in 30:30 the previous day, showed no ill effects as stormed round the 13km leg in the 67:50, the fastest time of the day, climbing four places in the process to overtake Adam Chromy of the Czech juniors and take 6th place for Farum Tisvilde. Haines, and the British team, finishing up in a fantastic 10th place, just 13 minutes down on Ulricehamns who overtook Turun Metsnkvijt for victory.

In the women's race it wasn't quite so close at the start, with Signe Ses of Pan rhus replicating her classic race performance and destroying the field to lead by three minutes from Zdenka Star of Svedalens and Jenny Johansson of Ulricehmans. Jenny Johnson, running for Vsters, finishing eight minutes down in 9th with Hollie Orr another couple of minutes back in 16th. It was Simone Niggli-Luder who ran the quickest 2nd leg by a minute, opening up a two minute lead which Maja Alm extended by a minute to defend their title and give Ulricehamns the double victory. Vroni Knig-Salmi ran the fastest final leg, overtaking Emma Andersson of Svedalens, to take 2nd place for Turun Suunnistajat. Pippa Whitehouse pulled her Gteborg-Majorna team up five places to finish in 7th.

In the women's under 18 relay Hazel Wright came home in 4th place, less than half a minute down, sending out Mairead Rocke to run the fastest second leg time and pull the British Juniors into 3rd. Alice Butt was sent out on last leg within touching distance of the two teams from Tullinge, finishing up in 2nd place after Tullinge's last leg runner ran a storming race to finish 4 minutes clear.

In the men's under 18 relay Ralph Street came back in 2nd place for the Brits, just over a minute down on Czech club Hradec Kralove. David Abrams pulled that back to finish 10 seconds clear of the Czechs, with Norwegian club Lillomarka just a further second adrift. Alasdair McLeod then finished proceedings with a storming final leg to give the British Juniors a fantastic victory by over 5 minutes, two places better off than last year's 3rd place.

Full results and photos: www.springcup.dk

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