Reports

Megan Carter-Davies – Junior World Orienteering Championships

In July, I headed out to Norway with the GB team for JWOC to compete in 3 of the races – sprint, long distance and the relays. After settling in and checking out similar terrain, I was feeling ready for the races but as it was my first JWOC, not really sure of what to expect in terms of results.

My first race was the sprint in Åmot, a little town – from my preparations, I knew it wasn’t a tricky town but the planners were good and I knew they wouldn’t let it be an easy course, so I was ready for sprint full route choices, and taking minimal risks. Having made a small mistake near the beginning, missing a path junction I was meant to turn down, I was on the ball for the rest of it and had a pretty clean race to finish 17th – I was chuffed!

Then I had a couple of days off to recover and cheer my team mates at the Middle Distance races before the long race came about. This was the race I had been looking forward to most and it started well for me. I was fairly clean through to control 4 and feeling comfortable, but then came the long leg to control 5 which went terribly wrong. I got most of the way there but made a parallel error and ran down onto the wrong section of slope, unable to relocate for around 10 minutes. After I eventually found 5, I knew I had no chance of doing well now so was quite demotivated for the rest of the course and finished 72nd.

The next day was the relays, so had to brighten up quickly! I wasn’t feeling great on the start line of the relays (I was running first leg) but knew I had to have a clean run to put my team mates out in a good position. Despite a couple of mistakes, I sent Sarah out in 7th position – unfortunately she didn’t have a great time out there but Julie on 3rd leg had a solid run to bring us back as 12th nation.

JWOC was a brilliant experience, and I’m really happy with 2 out of 3 of my races so am looking forward to working towards and competing at JWOC 2016 in Switzerland. We’ve already been out there as a team this summer to see what lies ahead of us (lots of mountains)! I’m really grateful to the John Taylor Foundation for supporting me with a grant.

2015 Megan Carter-Davies

Megan, 2nd from right

Aidan Smith – Junior World Orienteering Champs

JWOC 2015 was the final championship of my junior international orienteering career. From age 13 I had decided that I wanted to compete for Great Britain at 2 EYOCs and 4 JWOCs, with the aim of being able to win medals as a top year junior. As such JWOC this year was both the end of my junior career and a major stepping stone towards the next level as an athlete. The John Taylor Foundation’s contribution helped me fund the large athlete contribution, which had almost tripled from 2014. This covered both a preparation camp in the Lake District and the championship itself. The Lakes training was a good opportunity to get together as a team, and with a very young women’s team this year, get to know new teammates as well as guys I’ve been to training camps/internationals for years with. It also allowed us to start sharing preparation and make sure we were working together towards top results at JWOC.

Approaching JWOC itself I’d had an almost ideal training year. While I hadn’t been able to do a large volume of technical training or training on soft ground in the build up due to being at university, the training I had done had gone really well, I’d avoided any major injury/illness and significantly improved my running ability year on year. I picked up a small niggle and minor illness in my final build up but knew that physically I was still capable of improving on my top 30 results from 2014, particularly as these had been achieved with poor technical performances. The first few days in Norway were a useful opportunity to get into the forests and see for myself the terrain I’d spend hours looking at on the internet and visualising. The visibility was lower than I’d imagined it would be but on the whole I liked the terrain type, although I was also very aware that it would be much harder to achieve a top result with all the top Scandinavian competitors feeling at home in that forest.

The championship started with the Sprint race, in which I finished 7th. I hadn’t known exactly what I was capable of results wise and so was just focused on orienteering cleanly and pushing as hard as I could where possible. It was agonising to be so close to the top 6, with only a couple of seconds separating me from my first international podium. The result was a tremendous source of motivation though, and left me wanting more for the rest of the week, particularly looking forward to Long as my favourite discipline after confirmation my physical shape was good enough for podium. The next day I made it through a wet and scrappy Middle qualification, despite one large mistake, although I struggled to find a technique to race at podium level in that terrain. In the final I ran very well in the early part, but then became more scrappy technically in the final loop as the terrain became more like the qualifier. In addition I sprained my ankle coming into the spectator loop. I ran through it for the rest of the course but rolled it a couple more times which knocked my speed a little, and finished 19th, which was a respectable result but not what I had been dreaming of. However, my next 24 hours were spent obsessing over my ankle injury so I didn’t have time to dwell on the Middle. On the rest day morning I honestly doubted I would be able to run the Long, but thanks to some incredible physio support and a lot of ankle strapping, I forced myself to ignore the pain and jog. On the morning of the Long I knew it wouldn’t be ideal but I would be able to race. At the start of the race I was aware of the ankle but by the end I was totally focused on the race. I pushed hard from the start, and other than a small mistake on the 6th control ran cleanly, taking good routes. As we approached the TV control I had the Swedish runner who started 2 minutes ahead of me in sight, and worked hard to close the gap and go straight through him by the road crossing. Physically I felt very good and comfortable the whole race, and went through the spectator control in 2nd. One small miss in the final loop cost me some seconds but I still finished in 2nd place, and couldn’t have expected a better performance from myself on the day. The next two hours were some of the most agonising of my life but when Oli Ojanaho finally won it I knew I would be 4th.

There was again some of the disappointment of the Sprint, knowing I was within touching distance of a medal, with the added sadness that I’d run my final JWOC individual and with it had gone my chances of ever winning a JWOC medal. However, being on the podium was still amazing and it was satisfying for my training to have paid off and to have something to show for my final JWOC, and junior career. It was also a really useful experience to put myself under that kind of pressure at an international race and contest the top places, which I’ve never done before, and a result which will really help me as I aim to step up into the senior elite ranks.

JWOC ended with the relay, where the first two legs in the reselected first team struggled and I was put out with little to fight for on 3rd. It was a lacklustre end to my final JWOC, but still a very memorable week that I’ve taken a lot of experience from. Thanks again to the John Taylor foundation for the help with funding.

Max Wharton – Track season

Firstly, thank you to the John Taylor foundation for their support. It has helped towards new kit and track spikes for the season and has also gone towards travel and accommodation to races.

My track season started well, I won the Yorkshire Championships over 800m and ran a PB in the 1500m of 3.53, which was very early in the season. I then did a few BMC races where I lowered my 800m PB to 1.49.32 on the way to winning the BMC A race at Trafford. This time places me joint 3rd in the UK for 800m. At the National Championships I qualified for the final after coming second in both my heat and semi final, I cruised through both of them and felt good. I finished a disappointing 4th in the final (1.51) where I was dipped on the line by the second and third placed runners, there was only a tenth of a second between 2nd, 3rd and 4th, with the winner Kyle Langford, just ahead.

I still had a chance of qualifying for the European Juniors and travelled down to Watford for the BMC grand prix to try and run the qualifying time (1.49.00). I thought I had a very strong chance of getting this as I’d already run 1.49.32 earlier in the season and training had been going well. However, I was spiked really badly on my foot as another athlete tripped up, forcing me to pull out at 400m. I ended up getting stitches in hospital after the race as there was a large gash in my foot, currently, 3 weeks on, I still haven’t run. This was a huge blow as I thought I was capable of a fast time. The situation was made harder when I found out that British Athletics had selected 3 athletes for the 800m at the European Juniors, one of which was the athlete who was ranked joint third with me in the UK. I am now looking to be fit for the Senior UK inter Counties Championships in Bedford, and then on to next year, where I can hopefully run the times I know I am capable of. Although this season has been very disappointing because of the injury I sustained, I can still take a lot of positives from it and it has made me even hungrier to succeed in the sport.

leading my heat at the National Championships

Leading my heat at the National Championships

National Championships Final

National Championships Final

Dane Blomquist – JWOC

The grant I received helped support me in my efforts to get to the Junior World Orienteering Championships in Rauland, Norway this year. The financial support offered by the JFT was greatly appreciated due to the large cost of the trip. Whilst performing in Norway I ran in three races, the sprint, long and relay disciplines. My first race was the sprint race and my very first race at a Junior World Championship. Going into the race I felt confident even though I had a particularly hard year with injuries. I managed to finish in 23rd which was 3 places off the top 20 result that I had aimed for before the race. Even though I was disappointed with my race due to a few navigational mistakes on the course I believe the result was good considering my physical shape was not the best it could of been and I was competing against people a year older who were more developed physically and experienced mentally.

After my sprint race I had a two day wait before the long race in which I unfortunately picked up a stomach problem, this led to a poor performance with me only managing 94th place. The next day I was running in the Relay for the British second team. I ran the second leg for the team and gained around 7 places with a good race even though I only managed four hours sleep and didn’t eat in the morning due to the aforementioned stomach problem. A solid team effort by the second team meant that we in fact beat the British first team, which was our aim, and finish 10th national overall in the relay.

All in all I had suffered a week of ups and downs, with two good performances in the Sprint and Relay but a bad performance in the long. However, I believe the races have helped me gain valued experience in which I can take into next years Junior World Championships in Switzerland. Again, I’d like to thank the JTF for their support this year.

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Matt Elkington – JWOC

On the 1st of July the GB team flew out to Norway for the Junior World Orienteering Championships, it was a strange feeling knowing that 9 months of preparation, training and racing had led to this single week at the start of July.

The first race up was the sprint; I wasn’t expecting much in the way of a result and was just hoping for a run I could be happy with, a good first section including a strong time for the long leg 2 saw me in 9th just before the spectator control. But then 2 big mistakes on controls 9 and 10 saw me drop down to 59th. From then on I knew it was race over and cruised round the second half to come in 66th but not hugely disappointed.

The second race was the middle qualifier the next day. With my best domestic results of the year coming in the middle distance this was the main aim for me and I had high hopes of making the A final. Unfortunately, despite setting off very steadily to make sure I got the navigation right I still made to big mistakes on controls 3 and 4. The rest of my race wasn’t too bad and I pulled up a number of places but not enough to get back into the top 20, coming in 26th and a minute outside of qualification.

The middle B final, not what I’d been hoping to run in so no pressure or expectation. Just running to enjoy it. I set off a lot quicker than the qualifier and though I made quite a few mistakes I enjoyed it a lot more than the qualifier.

After 2 days off (I hadn’t been selected to run the long) I was running first leg for the B team, the main aim being to beat the A team. I had a very average run to come back 14th nation on first leg, my next two runners had good runs to end up 10th nation, a result I could actually be happy with, and more importantly, comfortably ahead of our A team.

Whilst I didn’t get the results I wanted from the week I had an amazing time and it has left me incredibly motivated to achieve my goal next year of getting selected for the World University Orienteering Championships. And I would like to thank everyone involved with the John Taylor Foundation for helping me to take part.

Chris Galloway

The funding went towards attending a World Cup orienteering event in Sweden and the Junior World Orienteering Championships. The world cup was a senior event and was a great experience to compete against the best orienteers in the world. My race was in the sprint discipline and I had a good run to finish 64th out of around 150 competitors. Unfortunately due to a technical difficulty the race was voided, but it was a great experience none the less.

The Junior World Orienteering Championships in Norway didn’t go well for me at all. I got ill during our rather long travel day which effectively ended by competition before it had begun. I still managed to compete in the relay at the end of the week and my team finished 10th nation which was a decent result in a strong field. I am very grateful to the foundation for giving me these opportunities!

Joss Barber

Firstly, I’d like to thank everyone at the John Taylor Foundation for awarding me this grant. Kit is expensive; and balancing this with travel, entry fees and other ventures can be difficult. It was a massive help to me. The money was used to buy energy gels, training tops, a jacket- as well as leaving some money set aside for cross country spikes come winter.

After receiving the kit for training, it helped me in the lead up to English Schools. I was competing in the 1500 Steeplechase, in my first ever time in the championships for track and field. The race was very closed and bunched, but with the eventual winner breaking away; I chose to give chase on the last lap. My real goal was an England vest (top two per event) and I “gave it a go”. However, I didn’t manage this and was ran down. I ended up being dipped and missed a medal by 0.07 of a second. This was absolutely gutting, but having been ranked 8th at the start, and finishing 5th– accompanied with a 5 second PB; this was something I could take away as positive.

A week later I competed in the Southern Inter-counties for Kent, again in the Steeplechase. I was very happy to pick myself up; and go gun to tape to win in a tactical race. It was a good feeling to pick up a title after the hard week prior; and this gave me some confidence going forward.

All the while, the kit I got from the grant was assisting me in my training- I ran two PBs of 1:59 for the 800m and 4:03 for the 1500m. Although I am pleased with these times, I definitely believe there is a lot more there; as long as my race craft is improved.

My biggest achievement of the season so far, was being selected for the England South-East team to compete at my first international event- being the UK Schools Games. I will be competing against the England regional sides, Scotland, Ireland, Wales, and apparently Brazil! This is a big opportunity that I am grateful for.

In terms of the rest of the season, I am competing in the South of England 1500m; and of course the UK Schools Games. I am aspiring towards a medal in both- as this would cap off the season really well. Additionally, I am hoping to lower my 800m PB, and go “Sub 4” for the 1500m.

Finally, I would like to say thank you once more for the grant. It has been a huge help and I am very grateful.

Joss Barber (U17 M)

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Kaeshelle Cook

Despite the changes and challenges, I’m chuffed!

I would like to say thank you once again for the kit that your provided me at the beginning of the last academic year. Not only did I gain leggings, trainers and other such training gear to get me through the long year ahead, I also gained a boost of confidence. The mere fact that the John Taylor Foundation believed in me and what I could be capable of meant that when doubts arose about whether all the hard work was worth it (which pretty much happens every year when you face the tough winter sessions pushing the body its maximum), I was able to fall back on the knowledge that you believed in me and were willing to support my journey this year. There was a nice little note that Running Bear had placed inside the package which was lovely. I pinned it to my noticeboard as a reminder. Overall, the kit I received actually made a huge difference to the way I was able to mentally cope with all of the pressure I had.

This year I am proud to admit that I have achieved quite a lot this year although, from an outsiders perspective they may not be able to see it so clearly. Therefore, I will outline everything that has occurred this year through the power of determination and hard work. Due to my big injury last year I had a lot of scar tissue, pains and niggles surrounding my hip flexor and my right quad muscles. Having the kit already provided by Running Bear I was able to spend some money on receiving the necessary massage and physiotherapy treatment. I was able to physically get back on my feet and start training without any real worries.

I am delighted to inform you that I have successfully moved into my new training area at the University of Bath. I knew studying and training would be hard but I think I initially underestimated the level of change I would have to go through. I had a new degree to study, a new coach and training partners, new training facilities, new teachers/lecturers, new friends to make, and a new home to move into. It was completely crazy during those first weeks of September. Everything around me was changing and I had to keep up with it all. Adapting to the new lifestyle kind of came naturally to me but of course it had its challenges. I am so glad that I had the kit from Running Bear because there were so many costs to cover during the first month. I had to pay to use the new facilities, to join the university’s Athletics Sports club and entry to BUCS, and eventually the costs which incurred when I actually went to compete, all of which did not come cheap. I am proud of myself for having made it through all of these processes.

I used my new kit at training all the time which was great. I trained 6 out of 7 days so, there was not one item of clothing that could go unworn! I essentially lived in my training kit because of the way my lectures surrounded my training schedule, but it was all worth it. I honestly find that running on the track sparks a certain sense of passion within me that no other activity can. I was selected to compete at BUCS indoors in Sheffield in the 60m Hurdles which was a lot of fun. I did not do as well as I had hoped but coming off the back of an injury that wiped out the whole of my summer last year I was happy to simply represent my university as a first year student. I also ran in the indoor 4×200m relay which I enjoyed being part of Team Bath! Furthermore, I competed in the BUCS outdoors where I ran a PB and our relay team gained Silver medals.

I think it is also worth mentioning that I received a 2:1 (upper second class) for my first year of studies. I am very proud that I have managed to stay committed to my sport and get good grades at the same time.

Here are some pictures which highlight the great year I have had.

Kaeshelle

 

I hope that this message and these photographs illustrate that all the work done in the John Taylor Foundation is worth it, as I definitely believe so.

William Fuller

Thank you very much for the money towards clothing and cross country spikes. Last week on results day I secured my place to study industrial design at Loughborough University. So I have used the money to get myself the warm kit and spikes needed for up and coming cross country season. This is something which would have been very hard to do without your help due to huge costs of University. I will use the kit during training and races and I am now getting prepared for European cross country trails in Liverpool in November and then other important races in early 2016 such as Nationals and UK inter counties.

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Harrison McCartney – EYOC

Apologies for the tardiness of this report- I have been on almost one continuous trip to train in terrain in Wales, Scotland and Switzerland, and I now finally write from home. This year’s European Youth Orienteering Championships was in the continental terrain and Urban climes of Cluj-Napoca, the capital of Transylvania in Romania. Blind optimism that the weather would be significantly better in Romania was frustrated when we were greeted by rain- for three days solid. In this time, we had a short trip out to the Long Model event the day before the long- what was clear is that some shoes with good grip would be needed to clamber up some very steep clay banks, reminiscent of terrain in the Forest of Dean.

The next day started early, as I had a 9.17 start (7.17 BST) on the 8.3k course with 300m of climb. I started solidly, navigating well through some technical sections which were definitely not present in the model event, and only dropping 30s due to mistakes for the first part of the course. My largest error came on the long leg- after drifting out of the control, hitting what was basically an impassable gorge of mud, I had to go round before losing my line again towards an open section, having to readjust and gain height. 3 minutes gone. Towards the end, my brain started to flag and I made some more small mistakes descending into a large valley. In total, I lost around 5 minutes and finished in 30th, which was a considerable improvement from last year (32nd) when I take into account the fact that I am now a ‘bottom’ year.

The relay was completely different, as the majority was open with dense patches of green, with a small area of forest similar to the previous day. I knew that I had lost some fitness after a period of illness prior to EYOC, but on my leg (3rd) I certainly felt it- the sun was beating down as my legs were trudging up the hills. I made a large mistake to #3, so despite gaining 2 places over the first two legs, I lost four just to that control! After navigating cautiously through some very rough green towards the end, I regained two places to retain 10th place.

Unusually, the sprint discipline came last, and was probably the most disappointing for me. Again, I had an early start (9.01), so I was making the first footfall out on the course. Nothing was really going wrong; I was running and navigating well until 200m from the end, where I made a very basic mistake to the run in control- a complete concentration lapse which cost me 20 seconds and 16 places. Although the gravity of the error wasn’t apparent to me initially, as other competitors started to come in it became clear that I had blown a potential top ten finish, so I was rather annoyed with myself (to say the least). However, the result as it stood was not one that I expected in the sprint discipline, which I would not say is my strongest distance. It was certainly a valuable lesson learned the hard way!

All in all, it was a great experience for racing against some of Europe’s best and I would like to once again thank the John Taylor Foundation for their kind contribution towards the cost of this trip. It is one thing to race against athletes in the UK and another to compete against the best in Europe (and arguably the World)- EYOC has definitely raised my ambition to being selected for the Junior World Orienteering Championships in Switzerland next year.