BUSA XC Champs

Although not at the fore of most orienteers minds, xc is one of the best forms of cross-training as you get a fast run over a reasonable distance, and can sometimes be on terrain similar to that found at big British events (well, fcc races anyway).

This year’s BUSA (British Universities Sports Association) took place at Caird’s Park, Dundee, an area consisting solely of football pitches. The organisers had originally included what an orienteer might class as a slope, but for the crè-de-la-crè of Britain’s runners it was deemed to dangerous to run up (however, myself, Rocky and Drew proved that you could run up it, even if you weren’t in spikes). As a result, the race comprised 2 small laps of running around a couple of pitches, then 5 longer laps comprising lots of running on grass, a very slight downhill, followed by a deceptively bumpy slightly up-hill to the finish/start.

The men’s race, although being advertised as being 10.6km, is thought to have been nearer to 12km. Conditions on the day were ideal for fast times; a slight wind, no rain, no mud. A field of 216 competed in the men’s A race, 204 in the women’s Long race, and there were a number of top orienteers in action.

First home on the Men’s race was GB international Chris Thompson of Loughborough and Aldershot, Farnham & District in a time of 38:16, followed by Angus MacLean of Southampton and Team Solent (38:31), 1 second in front of Scottish Universities champion Andrew Lemoncello from Stirling Uni (38:32). Leading orienteer was Murray Strain of Edinburgh Uni in 52nd place (42:05), followed by Niall Bourke of Leeds Uni in 113th (44:54), David Sprot of Sheffield Halam in 129th place (45:32), Ian Nixon of Leeds Uni in 146th place (46:26), and Andrew Brunton of Edinburgh Uni in 198th place (52:24). Loughborough took the Men’s title yet again, with Oxford in 2nd, Birmingham 3rd.

The women’s race of 6.9km (or at least that’s what the programme said) was won by GB international Lisa Dobriskey of Loughborough in 23:48, having managed to haul back a deficit of 15 seconds at the halfway stage of the race from fellow Loughborough student, and reigning champion Louise Damen, who finished 2nd in 23:57. Faye Fullerton of St. Mary’s College was 3rd in 24:13. A distinct lack of current orienteers took part in the race, though a fine performance was had by Julisa Bleasdale, former member of TVOC and South Central Junior Squad in taking 5th place. Also, Emma Pooley of Cambridge Uni came in 28th place, Julia Leventon (former WRE member) 124th in 30:08, Heather Burrows (ERYRI) 148th in 31:02. Loughborough took the title comfortably from St. Mary’s College, with Cambridge in 3rd.

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