JK Elites


JK Individual – Elite Classes

The crè de la crè of British Orienteering. The geeks and the sub-gods, the guys and the girls who train for it, race for it and live for it. And they were all in one place – Graythwaite estate in the heart of the Lake District. Although only a selection race for the World Student championships almost the entire British Squad turned out for the highest profile event in Britain.

The only notable exceptions were Dan Marston and Helen Bridle who were racing in the Swedish ElitSerien, Jon Duncan who is taking some time out from competition, and Heather Monro who is suffering from a long term injury, although she was on hand to help the commentary team out and sign autographs.

The pre-race favourite in the men’s race was clear – World Champion Jamie Stevenson™ racing his first major competition in Britain since last summer. But others such as BEOC Champions – held within a stones throw of Graythwaite – Oli Johnson and Ed Nash, and a strong foreign, particularly Norwegian, field, could provide an upset.

The women’s race was far harder to call, with all the top girls in good form. Sarah Rollins, Hannah Wooton, and SHI stars Gillian Godfree and Toni O’Donovan all in good shape. One possible upset came in the shape of 18-Year-Old Mhairi Mackenzie, running up to challenge herself!

The short/middle distance courses were a tough challenge; steep slopes, thick forest and long route choice legs followed by a fast and furious descent into the finish. At first it seemed that World Champion Jamie Stevenson™ had won, but once a mix-up over the timing was corrected Ed Nash emerged champion by over 1 minute. Speaking to the commentary World Champion Jamie Stevenson™ admitted his run was far from perfect, with two mistakes when he lost focus in the green. He promised to rectify his mistakes the next day with full concentration through the whole race.

Top junior in the middle distance was Graham Gristwood, JK2003 champion. He beat off David Hodkinson and Morten Brunes of Norway with a very respectable time which would have placed him 14th on M21E. However the following day GG chose to rest before the relay allowing Mark Nixon to charge through the field and beat everyone enough to take the overall title. Second on the day went to GG’s clubmate Dan Halliday of OD and third was Mark Saunders of EUOC/LOC. Overall then, it was Mark and Mark, with Morten Brunes in third.

The senior classic race was a monster. It started on High Dam with a series of controls in low visibility, marshy forest before passing a TV control on the open hillside. There then followed a long leg over the top of Graythwaite hill before plunging steeply down into the eastern most side of the forest, the fastest part were it not for all the steep slopes. Then it was back over the road and through more tough terrain before the spectator control and a last push up the final hill before the cruise down to the finish.

World Champion Jamie Stevenson™, starting second to last, effortlessly cruised home to victory in a time of 82 minutes. The next five places were taken by Norwegian-based runners, an outstanding run by Nick Morgan putting him in second place. Third Brit was Matt Speake, who ran with Nick for the latter part of the course. Nicks run was good enough to pull him up to second overall, and outstanding result for the 22-year-old which will have surprised many people. Ed Nash ran well enough to hold onto third place although he was the first to admit his winters training had been unsatisfactory, ‘I’m fit enough for 45 minutes, but not for 90’ the KnobOC runner said.

The girls race on Saturday was won in a far more sensible time than the mens. Hannah Wooton was two minutes clear of second placed Helen Palmer and third placed Jenny Whitehead, a lead which was good enough to secure her the overall title after the classic, despite only finishing 3rd in the race. Sundays winner, Helen Winskill, took second overall and runner up on Sunday, Jo Stevenson finished third.

Top junior, albeit in a depleted field, was Alison O’Neil who’s time on Saturday would have put her 10th in the senior race. However her classic run was highly impressive running through the entire field and winning by 15 minutes to comfortably take the title ahead of Irish JWOC runner Niamh O’Boyle.

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