Penhale Sands, one of Britains more accessible orienteering areas, was the scene of thousands of minutes of mistakes at this year's British Elite Championships, British Senior Championships, British Junior Championships, British Relay Championships and the British Trail-O Champions. Well call it the British Champs for short.
Perhaps not as many as in recent years made the short journey to Newquay, however competition was generally strong all across the results board. The individual day got off to a cold and breezy start (Everyone likes to know a bit about the weather, dont they) and as the day progressed towards the afternoon starts the temperature rose, the wind dropped to what one would probably call, a nice day.
On the Junior Elite Classes it was the last Future Champions Cup Race before the final, which is being held in conjunction with the World Cup to please Sport England. In the M18 Duncan Coombs won again by a massive 7 minutes to take home the massive trophy. Duncan won 13 of the 26 splits, settling into a comfortable early lead, no one else was ever in contention, 8.5km in 52:41. Duncan has really been in a class of his own amongst the M18s this season, a positive season ahead of JWOC in Switzerland. However, Duncan wasnt the only person on the course, and there was a tightly fought battle for the silver and bronze positions, so close that it came down to the sprint finish. Ben Stevens was 1 second ahead of John Rocke at the last control, 270m from the finish. But as we all know, its not over until you punch the finish, and John Rocke took 5 seconds out of Ben on the run in and the silver medal with 60:04, Ben Stevens took 3rd in 60:08 and David Schorah was close behind with 60:19 in 4th place. In the W18 young Rosemary Hodkinson became the British Champion, despite a few mistakes Rose managed to take a 2-minute victory over Jessica Halliday. Rose took 49:48 for the 5.9km course, with Jessica finishing in a time of 51:50. Tessa Hill took 3rd place, not running as cleanly as the others, but still a good run, 54:19. Ruth Holmes was a further minute down in 4th and Rebecca Roberts just behind her in 5th.
The 20 Elite classes were somewhat struggling for numbers, just 10 boys and 8 girls of mixed ability. Colin Olivant mastered the dunes better that anyone else on the M20 Elite, setting off strongly and winning the first 3 splits. Colin dropped a minute on the long leg 6, and a further 2 minutes at #8, however he expertly kept his composure and ran a superb race after that, barely out of the top 2 on any split. Colin took 78:46 for the 11.6km course. Rhys Findlay-Robinson took 2nd place in 83:06, unable to keep in full control in the tricky dunes of Treth Pen Hal. Rhys ran 83:06, taking a comfortable 2nd place with Tom Bray in 3rd, 89:10.
In W20 Elite Cerys Manning made a couple of minute mistakes, but ran a very controlled and powerful race, winning 12 of the first 17 splits. Cerys won by over 8 minutes in 65:32, another top junior showing consistent form on the domestic season building up to summer of international racing. Helen Gardner was 2nd in 73:50 and Lizzie Adams 3rd, 77:26.
Despite being a UK Cup and British Elite Championships the event failed to attract a complete field of elite competitors in the mens race, the womens race was comparatively stronger with more of the GB team present. Perhaps with being at the end of an intense racing period, and the World Cups in 2 weekends, many of Britains elite had chosen to get some quality training rather than another hard race in their legs. And not only did the race fail to attract many runners, several of those who had entered failed to turn up, and several of those who had started failed to finish, all for explicable, acceptable and honest reasons. Nonetheless, this was a top class race, with a good course, and some great competition. In the M21 Elite it was Oli Johnson who took the title of British Elite Long Champion. Oli said he got off to a shaky start, making mistakes on the first 4 controls, however he turned things around and ran a very good race with little time loss on the rest of the course. Oli won by just under 2:30mins ahead of Mark Nixon. Mark ran a very clean race early on, having the lead after the long 7th leg to number 10. A small mistake saw Oli back in front, and from then on experience took over from youth. Julian Simpson took 3rd place, a good result for him, 2 minutes down on Mark and 20 seconds ahead of Al Buckley in 4th. Duncan archer took the 5th spot.
In the womens elite race Helen Winskill had a very clean run with minimal time loss, becoming British Elite Champion by exactly 3 minutes over Gillian Godfree. Gillian had a very strong last half, however she was unable to keep things under total control early on. Sarah Rollins took the bronze only 15 seconds down on Gillian. Both Helen and Sarah will be running for Team GBR at the World Cup.

For full results visit the British Champs Website

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