mapExtract Image: section from a previous map

Followers of the GB Orienteers need to have their eyes in more than one place this coming weekend, with World Cup forest races taking place in Norway ( starting on Friday, preview - World Cup Round 3 ) and the British Sprint and the British Middle Distance Championships being hosted by the South West Orienteering Association, Bristol Orienteering Klub and North Gloucestershire Orienteering Club.

Saturday is the sprints, Sunday the middle distance.

British Middle Distance Champs - Final Details

British Middle Distance Champs - Start Times

Sunday 2nd September is the British Middle Distance Championships, at Stockhill Woods in the Mendip Hills just north of the smallest (by population) English city, Wells in Somerset.

Stockhill was the scene, way back in 1989, of the JK Relays. There was drama that day and only the quick thinking of the British number one Steve Hale, running the first leg for his Swedish club OK Tyr, saved the JK Trophy Relay from being void. When the lead pack of runners discovered that a control early in the course had been moved, Steve abandoned his race and headed directly back to the arena to tell the organisers to stop the race before the leader reached the changeover. In those days the JK Trophy was a four man relay, and Steve’s quick thinking enabled the race to be restarted with the leg two runners mass starting and the race as a three man relay instead. Steve’s club OK Tyr won.

We hope there will be no drama of that type this weekend, but look forward to two open and exciting races for the 2018 British titles!

On The Red Line editorial note: please click on an athlete's name for more information - this will be one of On The Red Line, IOF Eventor or the Archive of British Orienteering Records, and may well be different to the link used for the Sprint Champs preview.

Just as for Saturday’s Sprint Championship, Jamie Parkinson of Oxford University is the defending men’s champion from 2017. He is in fact the only past winner in the field. Again GB team members Jonny Crickmore of Edinburgh University and Chris Smithard of Forth Valley are expected to be other strong contenders. Jonny is just returned from a strong showing for 2nd overall at the Cerkno Cup in Slovenia. Following his silver in the JK Individual and bronze in the British Long at Balmoral, Chris will be looking to complete a full set of individual forest medals for the 2018 domestic season.

These three athletes cannot expect to have it all their own way! Chris Smithard’s Forth Valley clubmates Jegor Kostylev (bronze in this Championship in 2017) and Mark Nixon (the 2018 Scottish Long Champion) will both be rested from choosing to miss the Sprint and can be expected to be in the fight for the medals.

A number of other athletes will also feel they have a good chance to challenge for top positions. For instance last year’s 4th place finisher Tom Fellbaum will hope to step up to a podium finish, Nottingham’s Richard Robinson comes from a strong showing at the Lakes 5-day, and M20 Alex Carcas of Edinburgh University has chosen to run the Elite Men course.

The battle for the women’s title looks very open with many of the top finishers from 2017 returning, although Megan Carter-Davies is running the Norway World Cup races and hence does not defend her trophy. Of the 2018 GB World Championships team, last year’s bronze medallist Alice Leake of Airienteers also showed well in the forest races at this year’s JK, whilst this will be a first forest outing in one of the 2018 domestic championships for Humberside and Lincolnshire’s Charlotte Ward and also for former JWOC team member Tamsin Moran (who's just back from a spell in Australia). Local Bristol athlete Cecilie Andersen will be hoping to consolidate her first year in the senior ranks (including 7th overall in the JK Individual) with another good performance.

Sarah Rollins (a three time former winner) and Kim Baxter (the 2016 British Long champion) were both close to the medals last year and will be hoping to challenge again in the complex terrain of Stockhill. Alongside these athletes, other strong contenders for the title will be the long-term UK residents New Zealand’s Laura Robertson of Edinburgh Southern and Russia’s Anastasia Trubkina of Forth Valley (15th in this discipline at the World Championships back in 2012).

Last year's results

On The Red Line editorial note: : Stockhill is characterised by the remains of workings from lead mining for the ore galena. Apparently the local name for the landscape that results is “gruffy” ground - the uneven lines of pits and spoil heaps formed from miners digging out the “rakes” or mineral veins. Map notes in the final details compare the previous mapping to the new map. Although the maps for this event are printed at 1:10000 and 1:7500 depending on class, the survey is intended to be legible at 1:15000.

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