I was part of the England team that was thrashed by Scotland in our own back garden this weekend. The annual Senior Home International (teams of M/W 20 and 21s) varies in importance for athletes from the pinnacle of the year for some to 'I can't be bothered' for others. This means that the teams are never the strongest from any country, but it is often the country that can persuade the most top runners to take part that wins (England or Scotland tend to dominate having most of the top elite runners). Unfortunately, in the last few years, that has been Scotland, and despite (or maybe because of) the competition being held in the centre of orienteering in England, near Sheffield, Scotland won both the relays and the individual competitions.
I love representing England and make the effort to whenever I can, even though we have to pay for ourselves, wear a very out of date o top and take the humiliation of losing to Scotland occasionally.
Saturday was the relay competition. It is structured so that there are 3 teams from each nation, with a 20 and 21s in each team. I was in a team with Andy Lewellyn and Duncan Archer, and we won by quite a large margin. After 2 legs it was very close and I started with Oleg Chepelin (Scotland 1st team), but Oleg had a poor run and I beat him comfortably. We both messed up really badly at the first control, but after that I ran a fairly controlled race, not taking any risks and if anything I was overcautious. This was probably a good thing as the wood was very detailed - the map was 1:5000 and it was very easy to make a big mistake (which many runners did). Scotland dominated the womens race and won overall though.
Today was the individual with 4 to count from 21s, and 2 from 20s. I was off early and quickly passed most of the runners starting before me. I had a pretty good run and I was running strongly through the deep heather and marshes which made me feel like my winter training is working. I did make a few mistakes though, with small misses at 6, 10, 16, 22 and 23, and a big mistake at control 20. I couldn't understand the vegetation or the contours in that area at all. The last few controls I was starting to feel tired, and without the mistake at 20 I would have been very happy with my run. I ended up 2nd, about a minute behind Al Buckley (England). Scotland annihilated us, especially in the W21 and M20. The M21s were about even and our W20s were best.
Considering I haven't really done any orienteering since the World Cups in France, I was pretty content with my weekend, just disappointed about the team results.
I will put up some pictures sometime and a link to the results when they are up, but I guess they will be here.
Eng 3 (Archer, Llewellyn, Gristwood)
SCO 1 (Strain, Coombs, Chepelin)
Sco 2 (Musgrave, J Tullie, Kitchen)
Sco 1 (Stevenson, Orr, Mackenzie)
Sco 2 (Ward, Strain, Dunn)
Eng 3(Edwards, Spillar, Roberts)
Irl 3 (non comp)
Eng 1 dsq
Scotland 56 points, England 44, Ireland 28, Wales 16.