map: Part of Graythwaite
Heavy driving rain is in prospect to add to the challenge of tomorrow's race on the steep and rocky slopes of Rusland Beeches. It's the first of two days orienteering in the Lake District, named "Lakes Reloaded" as it's been put together relatively quickly by normal standards - with the aim of a chance for some top competition. Because of Lockdown, this year's domestic season ended in March almost as soon as it started and before all but one of the major races took place. Also the entire international programme has had to be scrapped.
Encouragingly "Lakes Reloaded" is being well-supported and the startlist seems the strongest field of 2020 in the UK.
It's a middle race on the Saturday afternoon, and then a full length (90/75 minutes target times) long at the Graythwaite Estate on Sunday. The racing will run like the JK individual forest races, with the Saturday seeded and Sunday starts in reverse order of Saturday's times.
The Organiser is Carol McNeill, the controller is Dick Towler, and the planning is by Martin Bagness on Saturday and Chris Heppenstall on Sunday. The SI timing is being managed by Dave Walton. Coincidentally Carol and Martin featured in our previous news item - summarising the summer. Carol did a terrific interview with Hector Haines for one of the Lockdown online festivals. Martin won his age category at every day of the OOCup.
The information below is from the event final details.
Lakeland woodland on a west-facing slope. Steep and rocky in places, with numerous crags, but fast running is possible with skill and grippy shoes! Part of the area is exceptionally detailed, and the courses make full use of this.
M21E 5.2km / 195m / 23 controls
W21E 4.5km / 160m / 20 controls.
Graythwaite Estate is a great example of privately managed South Lakeland woodland. The few rights of way may have mountain bikes whizzing along them – beware. The usual warning about crags, steep slopes, rocky uneven terrain underfoot applies. Some parts have spiky branches at shoulder & eye level. Please be careful and avoid getting a branch in your face. There are several wall and fences, including high deer fences – runners may cross these anywhere if they wish, but the intact walls and deer fences may present a challenge and should be crossed with care.
M21E 10.8km / 570m / 25 controls
W21E 7.2km / 395m / 19 controls
Whether it's a chance to meet (in a socially distanced way) with friends in the sport, or the raw lure of the racing in top terrain, or a bit of both, the weekend racing has attracted strong fields. There are 46 entries in the men's race and 21 in the women's. The top seeds are Graham Gristwood and Cecilie Andersen, but the fields are so strong and there is so little recent form to go on that we find the races impossible to predict.
One of the stories this week was that there will be no final year Junior World Champs (JWOC) for athletes born in 2000 i.e those who move from being juniors to seniors at the end of December this year. A particular feature of the weekend will be seeing how well some of these runners can do against the the top seniors, particularly as for some of the juniors the Lakes is very much home terrain.
The current British champion in all disciplines (Megan Carter-Davies) is training in the Czech Republic (location of next year's World Champs) but the other top domestic-based forest focused are all entered. With Cecilie Andersen at the sharp end of the seeding are Grace Molloy, Fiona Bunn, Sarah Jones and Fay Walsh. Grace is a year 2000 born athlete with three medals from what at the time was expected to be her penultimate JWOC. Fiona, now a first year senior, has two medals from that JWOC. Sarah (who is from the Lakes) and Fay (from Aberystwyth) are both in their early twenties, went to Edinburgh University, and have many high placings in races over the last few years.
Another of the 2000 born athletes starts just before those five, local runner Niamh Hunter. Niamh won the second of the junior selection races back in August.
The man to beat is the top seed Graham Gristwood, longtime key member of the British Team and incidentally winner of the only major race that did take place in 2020, the British Night Championships.
The runners who might do that are several; from those with World Champs experience: Chris Smithard, Alasdair McLeod, Peter Hodkinson, and Will Gardner, squad athletes Peter Bray and Alex Carcas, Nathan Lawson (who ran his clubmate Will close at Itchington Holt last weekend) and the year 2000 West Cumberland pair of GB Talent Squad runners Alastair Thomas and Daniel Spencer.
If you haven't already you might enjoy hearing Alastair's recent interview on the Run-In Podcast.
image: Graham Gristwood - from his Twitter feed last week