jk :: elite insights


In the second of our series of previews of the JK, we find out what the elite make of the terrain in the region, the standard of competition at the JK and who they think will be challenging for the trophies over the weekend.

The location of this year's JK has proved a popular one, with both Britons and the foreign elite attracted by the quality of the terrain and the close proximity to airports and cheap flights. Kristiansand, most noticeably, are bringing a large and strong team over, with other Scandinavian clubs such as Wing, Nydalens and Delta also opting for an Easter weekend in England.

Asked what has brought Kristiansand to the JK this year, former world champion Holgar Hott replied: "We wanted to do something different than Spring Cup, and I think two of our runners, Jon Duncan and Nicholas Morgan, have some kind of national team qualification. We know that the terrain is nice and the maps good, and the travel from Kristiansand is not too long or expensive."

Fellow Norwegian ystein Kvaal sterb has been a regular visitor to the JK in recent years and is back again this year with a number of his clubmates, saying: "I have been running JK four of the last five years and think it's a high class event with both good maps, courses and a strong start-field. That is the reason I am coming back, and I think JK can be compared to the best and biggest events in Scandinavia."

For the British runners, the chance to return to the area of the World Cup with a high standard of competition has been an attraction for some, while for Graham Gristwood it offers the chance to run on home terrain: "These are some of the areas that I learnt to orienteer on, and I am really looking forward to going back and competing there again. I have been orienteering all over Europe, but I still enjoy coming back and running in the South East of England."

Last year's JK champions Oli and Jenny Johnson are also looking forward to returning. Jenny said: "I'm really looking forward to the JK and it's been nice to reminisce about the UK World Cups which were a fantastic experience - great to race for GB in our home country with our home support cheering us on all week", Oli adding: "Yes, the world cups were really high quality races and Im sure that the JK will be more of the same. In particular it will be good to return to Leith Hill, and hopefully deal with the technical terrain better than I did last time."

Another with happy memories of that World Cup, winning his debut senior gold medal in the sprint and finishing 13th in both the middle and the long, is Daniel Hubmann. Daniel is hoping the event will prove a useful springboard for this season saying: "I am really looking forward to coming back and competing in these areas again, because I have good memories of the World Cup 2005. It was not only my first big victory in the senior class, but also a great kick-off to a successful season for me. Hopefully, it will be the same this year. In 2005, the terrains were fast, which I liked very much, but they were technically demanding too. All in all, I think that the terrain in the region is ideal for orienteering."

Similarly, Holger Hott was another with consistent results, finishing 9th in both the long and the middle, and is another fan of the terrain: "I remember the long distance as a very nice hilly forest with varying undergrowth. For me as a Norwegian it is great training for continental terrain. The WC middle distance was very technically demanding. Lots of people will be making mistakes in that terrain."

So with all these top internationals at the JK this year, what do the Brits make of the level of competition? Jenny Johnson hopes this standard continues: "It looks like it's going to be a great competition and I'm going to have to work really hard to be in with a chance of retaining the title. It will be great if this level of competition can become the norm for the JK and not just when it's near London."

Oli also thinks the competition will be hard work saying: "Its going to be tough! Its great to see so many top level international runners making the trip over. Theyll certainly make the competition more interesting we will have to work hard to hold our own." while GG relishes the challenge: "One of the factors which enticed me back from Stockholm for the JK is the quality of the startlist. I had the option of running some elite races in Sweden, but seeing how many top runners, both from Britain and abroad, have chosen to come is quite exciting, and means that the races will be a higher standard than many recent JKs."

So, who do the Brits fancy as doing well this weekend out of the foreign legion?

JJ: "Elise Egseth is a classy orienteer and has a high level of foreign experience which will stand her in good stead and Grace Elson has been beating me in the local district events up north so I'd say she's definitely one to watch - and I'm delighted she's running for SYO!"

OJ: "Where to start? Hubmann is certainly one to watch out for after showing impressive form already this year in the Swiss XC champs. sterb will likely be targeting the sprint and I would expect a top result from him there. Holgar Hott and Damien Renard will be most dangerous in the middle, where they will hope to repeat their good performances from 2005."

GG: "That's a hard question - it is impossible to know how seriously many of these athletes will be taking the competitions. Some might be taking part as part of a longer training camp, for others, including myself, it will be the first races of the year. Having been training with some of the Swiss boys in South Africa in January, it is possible that Baptiste Rollier will be running very well. Daniel Hubmann has to be a big favourite in any race he starts, and Holger Hott is a former World Champion, although he has had some problems with his training this winter I believe. I would also mention Olav Lundanes, reigning Junior World Champion, Damien Renard, the Pijak brothers and ystein Kvaal sterb as people with potential to do well in the mens class."

Well, seeing as that has narrowed things down in choosing between the foreign runners, who do they see as being the top domestic opponents?

JJ: "Last year was a really great competition between us Brits with Helen Winskill, Rachael Elder, Pippa Whitehouse and Helen Palmer all in the mix. This year sees Sarah Rollins back and Helen Bridle over which will add to the fun along with several more experienced runners after last year's World Cups including Lizzie Adams, Becky Carlyle, Laura Daniel and Karen Heppenstall. Also there's a whole bunch of juniors who'll be after some scalps on the first two days... "

OJ: "With the exception of Jamie, all the top dogs are racing, so it is hard to call. I know that Graham Gristwood and Scott Fraser have shown some good early form, Matt Speake is back up to fitness after a recent injury, Matt Crane is back from Aus and Jon Duncan will be making his season debut. But there are a host of others who will certainly be in the mix: Ewan McCarthy, Duncan Coombs, Neil Northrop and Duncan Archer... its a really strong field."

GG: "Once again, it is hard to know who is in good shape, how people's training has been going, but if we assume that as the races are selection races for the European Champs, and that everybody will be trying their best, I would guess that close to the top will be Jon Duncan, Oli Johnson and Matt Crane. Scott Fraser will also be near the top."

Oli and Jenny must have quite a competition for the trophy space in their house, what do they think of your chances of doing the double again this year?

JJ: "I'd like to think we have a chance! It was a fantastic feeling last year to share the podium and we look forward to seeing what happens in 2008!"

OJ:"That would be nice! Well certainly give it our best shot."

So how would the elite tackle the terrain? Who better to turn to than the middle distance maestro Thierry Gueorgiou. Although by his high standards he didn't quite achieve a flawless run in 2005, he still finished just 7 seconds down on Andrei Khramov. In this download Thierry breaks down every leg of his middle distance run at Leith Hill, offering a tremendous insight into his means of navigating through such terrain. Also it's well worth looking through the old maps of the day 2 and 3 areas and try to get a feel for the shape of the land, plan some legs and think about how you would tackle them, and if you can see places where some of Thierry's tips might prove useful.


Leith Hill's mix of contour and vegetation detail.

Nopesport relies on user submitted articles. Got an inside scoop? An event review? Please submit it to us.


Orienteering headlines from around the web:

World of O

Bof News

Nopesport is supported by these advertisements