In the middle of May I traveled the length of the country to run for Forth Valley at the Harvester Relay (UK's answer to Jukola). I ran the longest night leg, and made a big lead for the team, which it held to the end. My third victory in the competition, with 3 different clubs! FVO article.
The following weekend was the Scottish individual champs at Dalnamein - a really beautiful area (map here). I had a good steady run to win. The following day was the relay at Newtyle Hill (map here). I ran the last leg starting 2nd about 2 mins behind Murray Strain. I met him in the butterflies, but he was obviously well ahead. I managed to pull 30s back to take silver for FVO.
Photo Rob Lines
Next up was the British Long and Relay champs in Northumberland. Having previously won two silver medals at the long champs, I was very motivated to finally become "King of the Forest". The race was very long and tough (map here), and I caught several other runners. My performance was quite good, but it was very difficult to run away from the others as it was hard to hit the controls cleanly in the circle. I managed to win in front of Dave Schorah (who I caught 3 minutes) and Hector Haines.
Photo Rob Lines
In the relay, it was once again a battle against Murray Strain and Interlopers, but this time there were a couple of other clubs (Oxford, Cleveland and Nottingham) in the fight. Map here. I started 5th, right behind Oxford, and I had a good battle with the other 3 (Murray was too far ahead). I was close to Peter Hodkinson in the fight for silver, but a longer forking close to the end gave me too much to make up and so it was a bronze for FVO.
UK Relay League
With a 1st, a 2nd and a 3rd, FVO finished 2nd in the UK Relay League 2014 behind Interlopers (who won 3 races!). However, the women managed to win the league! FVO article here. Results.
Jukola came at a bad time (as it often does) with regards to work commitments, WOC preparations, and again housing issues. The travel was also very stressful (flying to Stockholm, public transport to ferry terminal and arriving at the ferry with less than 3 minutes to spare). I was meant to run the last leg for IFK Mora, but I really wasn't feeling up to it, so I switched with Artem Panchenko and ran the 6th leg instead. Unlike at Tiomila I had an entirely solo run, with Hans Gunnar Omdal catching me at the last couple of controls. My performance was ok technically, but I had no power and no speed (getting no sleep due to a beach party at our accommodation didn't help). I started 9th and finished 8th (never saw the guy I passed). My time wasn't great compared to the best though which wasn't really a surprise given how my body felt. 11th felt like a bit of a disappointment for the club after 4th at Tiomila, but in retrospect given our preparations and the tough nature of the terrain, we did well to achieve the club's second best Jukola result since the 1960s - more to come though!
Tracking here. Results here.
Preparation for WOC this year, but also for 2015! I have done a lot of training sessions in Scottish terrain, both around WOC 2015 areas, but also in other parts of the country. We had a good training weekend after Jukola on some relevant maps with SEDS (Scottish Elite group) including a Scottish O League event at Lossie (always a pleasure) - map here.
Then it was out to Italy with some GB and Hungarian athletes to acclimatise for WOC (both to the heat, altitude and terrain!). I will add the maps to my map archive soon, but we did some good training, some good rest and relaxation, and took part in some high quality competition at the Alpe Adria. I took part in the long and middle races. The long went very well (despite the rain and nettles), and I finished second in the WRE which was a good boost before WOC. Results here. Map here (not mine). The middle didn't go so well, but it was a good learning experience!