Reports

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.

Joe Woodley – Switzerland

This summer a group of 11 British athletes travelled to St. Moritz in the Engadin valley of southern Switzerland. The 2016 Junior World Orienteering Championships are to be held in the area so this camp provided the perfect opportunity for us to gain experience of the terrain types we will face in a years’ time. The importance of orienteering in similar areas to those in which we will race cannot be understated. By the end of the week we hoped to have a grasp of the mapping style, what certain features looked like on the ground and how they were mapped. We would also discovered just how physically demanding the competition would be; with steep rocky slope orienteering, not to mention the altitude of over 1600m.

We flew to Milan Bergamo airport on Sunday. This gave me just enough time to drive the 7 hours home from the final day of the Scottish 6 days, pack, repack and grab a few hours of sleep before jumping on a train to Manchester airport. Travelling took up the entire day on Sunday and we eventually arrived at St. Moritz youth hostel after what seemed like hours of torturous hairpin bends where nothing but our headlights pierced the stormy Swiss night. On awaking we were greeted by the breath taking peaks that surround the town on every side. Everyone was tired after a tough week of racing in Scotland so we chose to go for an easy run to explore the town and do a lap of the lake. We also discovered the towns’ running track, free and open to all. Whilst we did a few running drills and stretches we watched elite athletics stars from across the world training framed by the imposing mountains that overlooked them. St. Moritz has become a favourite high altitude training camp for endurance athletes, used by the likes of Johnny and Alistair Brownlee. We were lucky enough to be joined by Jackie Newton and Bashir Hussain both experts on physical conditioning and training and racing at altitude. On Monday afternoon we got our first chance to run in the JWOC relevant terrain, this time it was middle relevant. The course was technically and physically challenging but most notable was the amount of rock underfoot making running difficult and running whilst reading your map near impossible.

Throughout the rest of the week we trained in areas relevant to all the disciplines, Long, Middle, Sprint and Relay. Each evening we participated in group discussions about the areas we had run on. These sessions were led by Mark Nixon whose technical expertise and international racing experience helped to identify what made the areas unique or not and how we could best prepare ourselves to perform well in such terrain. We ran a long distance model course in groups each taking different route choices and decided that large route choice legs would play a vital role in deciding the ultimate race winner. Possible track routes, straight options and amount of climb would all factor into decisions about which route was quickest. Making these decisions in oxygen debt and under the pressure of racing is difficult so by trialling different routes and throughout the year looking at Swiss races and route choices we can help form an idea about what makes a route quick and safe. Ultimately this will make the decisions during the race a lot easier. The Sprints were classic European old village areas with small alleys, irregular buildings and open squares. The middle and relay will be technical with rocks and complex contours, though will have fast sections between the small hills. Picking runnable lines through the terrain that also allow for easy navigation will be key to a good performance in these areas.

The trip was a lot of fun as well as vital for preparing for JWOC. Each day we swam in lakes or iced our legs in glacial streams. There was great team spirit and I think everyone began to dream of the perfect race next July. I’d like to thank the Coaches Mark, Jackie, Bash and also Allan Bogle. Without their hard work and dedication such trips would not be possible. I’d also like to thank the John Taylor Foundation whose generous grant helped to make this trip a reality for me. The grant has helped me to prepare the perfect training plan for 2016 and taken me closer to my goal of a top 20 at the Junior World Championships.

Finally I have included three things I will do this year to help me perform if selected for JWOC:

  1. Practice rocky slope orienteering – In Sheffield where I study areas such as Wharncliffe and Loxley common will be great to practice on.
  2. Get Fit – You simply have to be at peak fitness to handle the double hit of steep slopes and altitude. Hill reps, strength and interval sessions will be vital to get my body ready.
  3. Study Maps – Route choice is going to be key in a way unlike it is in British orienteering. Other than perhaps the Forest of Dean we don’t have many areas where round-about route choice and amount of climb is so crucial. To combat this I will look at how the ‘Continental Kings’ of orienteering do it. Looking at races and finding whose route was quickest and working out why will help get me ready for a Swiss style long distance.

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Julie Emmerson – JWOC

The Junior World Orienteering Championships 2015 was held in Rauland, Norway in July. I had already been out there a month before to do some relevant training so I felt prepared. The team travelled out a few days before the races started to give us some time to settle in and visit some relevant training areas. The first race was the sprint which I wasn’t running in order to allow me to focus more on the forest races. I stayed behind at the team accommodation to rest up for my first race the following day.

The next day was the middle qualifier for which there are 3 heats with the top 20 from each to qualify for the A final. I knew that to qualify I didn’t have to do anything special, just have a solid race. I started steady but navigated well around the first few controls. But then the mistakes came. I can’t work out the exact cause but it was something in my head that wasn’t right as I know I can orienteer better than that. I think once I started making mistakes the pressure got to me and I found it hard to get back into it. It was not a good run and I finished somewhere in the 20s so did not qualify for the A final. After finishing 11th in the middle distance last year it was quite hard to accept that I hadn’t even made the A final this year.

The following day was the middle final. The long distance race was my main focus for the week so I had the tricky decision of whether to run the middle final to get a bit of confidence back or not run it to be better rested for the long. I decided I needed to run it and it went much better. I had a few time losses from non-optimal routes but on the whole it felt a lot cleaner and I finished 6th in the B final. Under less pressure I can still orienteer!

After a rest day, it was time for the long distance. Again I started steady and the first 3 controls were good. Number 5 was a very long leg so while trying to plan my route, I made a mistake at number 4. I shouldn’t have let that happen but I recovered well to run the long leg quickly. However after that it went downhill again with a few costly mistakes. I finished strongly but over the course I had lost a lot of time and finished a lot further down the results than I would have hoped. However the day wasn’t a total loss. It was very exciting for the whole team to spectate and cheer as Aidan Smith finished in 4th place, the best long distance result ever for a GB male at JWOC!

The week finished with the relay and I ran the last leg in the GB girls A team. Our first leg runner did a great job to come back in contention but unfortunately our second leg runner lost a lot of time so when I started I was a long way behind. I started in a small pack and at the exact same time as the Irish team so it was nice to have a friend on the start line! I had a really good run and an exciting race all the way around with the New Zealand team and we overtook Denmark 2 and Switzerland 2 which was satisfying. The result wasn’t what we wanted but I at least had finally had a run I was really happy with!

On the whole it was quite a disappointing week for me. As it was my third JWOC I think I was really feeling the pressure to deliver results where as in the past I have approached international competitions much calmer. This was my worst set of international results yet but I will learn from it and I still have one more chance left next year.

Julie Emmerson

Julie Emmerson

Jenni Willison

Thank you very much for the letter that I recently got confirming that the foundation has agreed to support me for the 2016 English Fell Running Series. I really appreciate your help towards the costs. As requested I will forward receipts etc at the end of the season. I have recently started a blog and have thanked the foundation on my blog. The link to my blog is: www.jenniwillison.com

Dominic Allen

This is an update on my season’s activity and performances so far.

Unfortunately I have been suffering with a few niggling injuries for the majority of the season, but have still been training hard. I have had an ankle issue which has now cleared up but I’ve also been suffering with tennis elbow, which has hampered my ability to throw the javelin and perform my best in competitions. However, I still train regularly with James Marshall (Excelsior), doing weight and speed training, as well as training at the track. Over the winter I have regularly travelled up to Loughborough university to train with David Parker (GB Javelin Coach), which has benefited my technique as well as my knowledge on what is required to become a great thrower.

I have also been attending the AASE (Advanced Apprenticeship in Sporting Excellence) programme in Bath. There have been 6 workshops since Christmas that I have attended covering things like planning, preparation, psychological skills, nutrition, physio screening & 1:1 mentoring sessions with former international athletes. There are 4 more workshops after the summer with a graduation at Loughborough in December. These workshops have given me a really great insight into what becoming an international athlete involves, and has been invaluable in my development as an athlete.

Even with my injury, I’ve improved my personal best a few times this season. I also managed to win the Devon Schools trials and made it into the Devon team for the English Schools Championships in Gateshead, held last weekend, where I came 8th. I was pleased with this as it was a high level of competition and I threw a very consistent series of throws most just below my PB while managing my injury. I’m working hard on trying to rehab from my injury and hope to be back competing at a high level in a few weeks time. I have already started planning my winters training with James and also have further trips/training camps at Loughborough over the winter.

Many thanks again for supporting me,  I am extremely grateful as it has enabled me to do all that I have done and get the extra bit of coaching/ training required to become an elite athlete.

Dominic Allen