jk :: surrey sprint excitement

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On Friday the University of Surrey in Guildford hosted the UK's largest sprint orienteering event as almost 1500 competitors raced round the campus in the spring sunshine. Britain's women had a successful day, but Britain's top men had mixed fortunes in the race, thanks mainly to the high standard of foreign competition who made up around half of tightly packed top 25 who were covered by just two minutes.

The opening day of the weekend long JK International Festival of Orienteering provided exciting racing for young and old alike as competitors of all ages were faced with tricky navigation around the many narrow passageways and staircases between university buildings, many of which looked confusingly alike. Confusion certainly played a key part when concentration was lost as relocation wasn't easy in places, especially where staircases between the identical looking accommodation blocks weren't mapped to improve clarity. Concentration was also tested right to the end, with many on the men's elite course missing or mispunching on the last few controls in their haste to reach the finish.

Daniel Hubmann of Switzerland was victorious in the men's elite class, completing the 2.7km course in an impressive 14:01. Hubmann, as current world number 4 and twice silver medalist in the Sprint at the World Championships, was one of the favourites for this race and this status was upheld as he finished a comfortable 11 seconds clear. Second place went jointly to Britain's Scott Fraser, from Edinburgh University, and last year's JK Sprint champion ystein Kvaal sterb from Norway. Fraser was quickest round the first third of the race with a seven second lead before a 10 second miss at number 8. born Graham Gristwood finished in 5th place, 26 seconds behind the winner and six seconds down on Junior World Champion Olav Lundanes in the closely packed results.

Kristian Jones of Swansea Bay scored a fantastic result with a time of 15:26, comfortably winning the M18 Elite class by almost a minute and a half, and finishing in 17th place on the elite course, gaining a number of scalps in the process. Top M20 Elite was Doug Tullie of Edinburgh University with a time of 15:53.

In the women's elite class it was Britain's Sarah Rollins who won gold, holding off Norwegian sprint specialist Elise Egseth by just 6 seconds in a closely fought race where the lead changed a number of times. Winning the 2.4km course in a time of 15:58, this was a successful return to elite orienteering for Rollins following the birth of her son last year. In third place was Sheffield based Rachael Elder, just under half a minute down on the victor and comfortably clear of 4th and 5th placed Helen Bridle and Becky Carlyle respectively. Top Junior was Norwegian Beata Falk who finished in 16th place, just 9 seconds clear of Edinburgh University's Hollie Orr with Maroc's Hazel Wright the top W18 elite in 20th place.

While many competitors outside of the elite could claim ignorance as to the interpretation of the rules of mapping and sprint orienteering before the JK, the event programme had made these rules very clear to all. However there were many cases in the elite classes where these rules were flouted, and while in some cases competitors were disqualified there were many more who escaped for no other reason than the fact that such offenses are difficult to police.

Away from the elite runners, the Crickmore family from Southdowns had a successful day with Neil winning the M45 class by just 1 second from Bristol's Mark Saunders, while Jonathan won the M16 class by a more convincing minute and a half. On Course 3 London's Jeff Pyrah won M35 by a similarly convincing minute and a half, around 70 seconds clear of Charlie Adams who took the M40 class. On Course 6, Peter Gorvett of South Yorkshire was victorious, ahead of Paul Taylor of Cleveland and Switzerland's Cornelia Mueller who won the W40 class by just two seconds from South Yorkshire's Jenny Peel, while in 8th place, and top W45 was OD's Jane Halliday.

On Course 7 Bristol's Jackie Hallett was a comfortable winner, taking the W50 class ahead of South London's Diane Leakey while Sarah Brown in 3rd won W55. Norwegian Gunnar Osterbo was M65 victor in 4th place, while East Lothian's Sheila Strain won the W60 class.

In the junior classes West Anglia's William Louth won by over 3 minutes in M10 from James Ackland of Interlopers and Manchester's Matthew Fellbaum, winning course 9 in a time of 7:01 while Louise Adams, with a time of 9:46, had a two minute cushion in winning W10. Tom Ryan from Edinburgh won M12 with Mark Otto pipping Alexander Chepelin by 3 seconds to take second place. OD's Rachel and Julie Emmerson took the top two spots on W12 while Thomas Louth emulated his brother's success by winning M14. W14 went to Lucy Butt of Sarum and W16 was won by Kirsty Coombs of Maroc.

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