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.