Nathan Lawson, Borås Stadtspark, photo: Rob Lines
The GB first team of Charlotte Ward, Jonny Crickmore, Nathan Lawson and Megan Carter-Davies, were sixth, fourth nation, in the Sprint Relay in the centre of Borås on Sunday 29th May.
The race was won by Sweden's second team. The favourites, Sweden-1, made noticeable mistakes on leg3 and leg4, causing them to finish third. Switzerland-1 was second. Norway-1 were fourth, so third nation. Switzerland-2 were fifth.
Official Results - Orienteering World Cup Sprint Relay May 2022. There are two lists: one for just the leading teams for each country and one for all teams, including up to four teams per country, plus the "mixed" teams.
The GB second team of Alice Leake, Chris Smithard, Will Gardner and Grace Molloy were twenty-second of the fifty-seven teams that started, just behind Czech-1.
Grace Molloy on the run-through, photo: Rob Lines
Fiona Bunn and Cecilie Andersen also ran the first leg, but were not in complete GB teams. Kris Jones and Ralph Street did not take part.
Thanks to Team Manager Murray Strain and Katherine Bett for chatting for our Twitter feed afterwards. You can also find a post-race interview with the GB first team on our Twitter feed.
@GBRorienteering coach @murraystraining talks with @kathbett about the team’s performance in Borås and looking forward to next month’s WOC in Denmark. (Pt 1/2) #orienteeringworldcup pic.twitter.com/tH3ZwmhO5t— On The Red Line (@OnTheRedLineO) May 29, 2022
It was a typical City Centre Sprint Relay: very scenic, fast paced, with close decisions and margins. Just a couple of minutes after the first team to finish there were a lot of races to the line, with teams coming in every few seconds.
It was a race in the World Cup so countries can enter up to four teams. The big four countries, Sweden, Norway, Switzerland and Finland all entered four teams. And they had spare runners to help make up mixed teams. (Anton Johansson, who won the JK a few years back, ran for a mixed team, and did the eighth fastest time on leg 3.) As the commentators noted all the Swedish teams were strong, and remarkably they all finished in the top eight.
Sweden-2 (Lina Strand) was first to the arena run-through, with Charlotte Ward of GB-1 running very well in second. On the short final loop Lina extended her lead to 22secs over the mixed Netherlands/New Zealand team (Eef van Dongen), then it was Sweden-1 (Hannah Lundberg) at 24 seconds, and GB-1 at 29 seconds. Ukraine (Olena Babych) was fifth and Switzerland-1 (Simona Aebersold) sixth at 38 seconds.
Charlotte Ward, with Simona Aebersold of Switzerland, photo: Rob Lines
Jonny Crickmore took leg 2 for GB-1, finding himself starting within 10 seconds of Tim Robertson, Max Peter Bejmer, Denys Shcherbakov and Joey Hadorn. Clearly this was not an easy challenge but he was up to it, and had a solid run to bring GB back in 7th, 54 seconds down on the still leading SWE-2. SWE-1 and Switzerland were 16 and 20 seconds down respectively.
Jonny Crickmore in a group led by Joey Hadorn, photo: Rob Lines
Jonny Crickmore alongside Tim Robertson with Joey Hadorn and a running cameraman in the background, photo: IOF/ William Hollowell
Nathan Lawson said afterwards it was his first Sprint Relay. Like all the runners he emerged from quarantine just a couple of minutes before his own start.
Hi Nathan, Welcome to the format! You're starting two seconds ahead of the athlete ranked No 2 in the World at Sprint Orienteering, Kasper Fosser (Norway-1), and just behind twelfth ranked Riccardo Rancan (Switzerland-2) and the previous day's Knockout Sprint bronze medallist August Mollén (Sweden-3).
Riccardo Rancan and August Mollén, Jerker Lysell behind, photo: IOF / William Hollowell
You may well have read of Nathan's misfortune of running into a bike rack halfway round. It made him quite the celebrity. If not you can find pictures and his interview on our Twitter thread, and probably several other locations on social media.
Emil Svensk had the fastest man's run of the day for SWE-2 to consolidate their lead. Matthias Kyburz for Switzerland-1 was 17 seconds slower, and Gustav Bergman for Sweden-1 made an uncharacteristic and expensive error on the final loop - he was 37 seconds slower than Svensk.
Nathan came in 8th, 22 seconds down on Kasper Fosser, GB confirming themselves in a race for third nation with Norway.
Nathan Lawson, photo: Rob Lines
Final leg for Norway was Andrine Benjaminsen. We have previously written about her very fine record as a final leg runner, including taking the win in a very close race at the previous World Cup Sprint Relay at last year's World Cup Final Round in Cortina d'Amprezzo.
Megan had a good run passing SWE-3 and SWE-4, but the 22 second gap behind Norway was 30 seconds at the end as Norway were fourth and third nation. Fifth were Switzerland-2 (Sabine Hauswirth).
Nathan Lawson, photo: Rob Lines
At the very front, in the first three places, Karolin Ohlsson for SWE-2 ran well to retain the team's lead and provide just cause for exuberant celebrations. The team were in the lead from control 8 on the first leg, and the winning margin was 36 seconds. In her interview Karolin suggested the selectors might care to pick the whole team as the Swedish representatives for the World Champs Relay.
The Medallists, photo: IOF / William Hollowell
Tove Alexandersson for SWE-1 caught and passed Elena Roos for Switzerland-1. But then Tove made a mistake on the last loop to finish behind Elena.
GB-1 were 1:46 down on the winners. In a 30 seconds period a minute behind them, 10 teams finished.
Finished! photo: Rob Lines
The second GB team finished 22nd, 3:43 behind the winners.
GB-2 Alice Leake, Chris Smithard, Will Gardner, Grace Molloy. photo: Rob Lines
Fiona Bunn and Cecilie Andersen ran but not for complete GB teams. Cecilie was the only runner in GB-3, coming 30th on leg1. Fiona, 27th on leg1, ran with Belgians (the Belgian first team mispunched) to 44th.
Fiona Bunn, photo: Rob Lines
Cecilie Andersen, just behind Susen Lösch, photo: Rob Lines
That was the story seen by us and the rest of the audience, both in the arena and watching on TV or the internet. It was a very entertaining race, in the way that International Sprint Relays almost always are. It was exciting, close, scenic, with plenty of runners featuring, teams staying in contention, and the result in doubt until late on. It seemed the courses were interesting and fair and providing a good challenge. The fixed and running cameras brought the action to life, GPS tracking enhanced the story, and there were indeed some mistakes.
There were several route choice legs, including some with routes that were a good way apart. It made for excitement and it was good to watch decision making, but on the whole these legs made only small time differences as the runners are well-practised at choosing routes.
A more subtle aspect perhaps was the extensive use of artificial barriers, and little forking/gaffling. The forking was the same for both women and men: controls 1 and 2 were forked, and a control about two -thirds in.
Map Legs 1 and 4 - Sprint Relay - external link
Map - Legs 2 and 3 - Sprint Relay - external link
mapclip showing the two areas of forking: Controls 1,2 and 11
The commentators had mentioned in passing that the first forkings were unequal. Although it was noticeable in the broadcast that Hannah Lundberg seemed to start fast at the front, pick a good route to control 1, but then be behind at control 3 it was only afterwards that we could get a proper sense of the difference.
It turned out in practice the difference was large enough to have a noticeable impact in the detailed results of such close racing.
In principle planners try and make the forkings similar in time and difficulty because any such difference can affect the result. If it is not possible to make them the same then it is best it happens early in a leg. This was at the start so that was good.
The thing is where there is a lot of running together (as there will be with little forking overall) and an unequal forking, it is advantageous as a leading team to have the slower forking earlier in the relay (legs 1/2) and the quicker one later (legs 3/4). The early running of a slower forking/gaffle especially in a large field means there will be runners ahead to ease later route choice. The later running of the quicker forking/gaffle, when there are fewer runners, can help a runner create or close a gap.
The courses came together at control 3. At that point on leg1, of the first 12 runners, only Hannah Lundberg (Sweden 1) had come from the slower forking. Marika Teini (Finland-1) the second one, was 16th.
On the last leg therefore Tove Alexandersson (Sweden-1) had the quicker option. At the time the audience was watching Gustav Bergman throw his map to the ground and kick a hoarding, before his mistake on the last loop was revealed by GPS replay. Looking at the numbers now we can see Tove was 2 seconds quicker to control 3 than the next runner, Venla Harju (Finland-1) who also had the quicker forking. Tove, in third, closed on the two runners ahead, who both had the slower forking. She was noticeably quicker than the leading runners of other teams at the front: Elena Roos by 17 seconds, Andrine Benjaminsen by 16 seconds, Megan Carter-Davies by 12 seconds and Karolin Ohlsson by 8 seconds.
Of the British runners, Charlotte, Alice and Fiona had the quicker forking, Megan, Grace and Cecilie the slower.
This is a chart from the analysis software Winsplits Pro, available as "bonus content" within the main Winsplits for this race. The first forking is S-1, the second one is 8-9.
Post-race Thoughts of GB-1
It is a team event and when summing up it is best to take a view at team rather than individual runner level. Runners' times are affected by the race situation and by other factors, particularly which first gaffle they got. For example switch the two men of a team onto each other's gaffle and one will probably go very roughly 10 seconds quicker and the other 10 seconds slower. (It is a bit more complicated for the women because leg 1 did not start from quite the same place.)
The Swedish teams all ran well, with all four teams ahead of everyone else except two Swiss teams, Norway-1 and GB-1.
Finland, Denmark and Czechia probably did less well than expected.
For GB it was two good team performances, and all four GBR-1 runners should be pleased and know they earned that podium place of fourth. To be 30 seconds quicker, the gap with Norway, is more than the team could reasonably be expected to achieve.
As to GB prospects Murray does have reason to be as cheerful as he was in his interview. It has been a good competition for GB.
The next race in the international calendar is the World Champs Sprint Relay. GB hopes to have Ralph Street and Kris Jones running and their speed might go a good way to close the 30 second gap to the medals. Of course the other teams can also get stronger in the next weeks e.g. was Kasper Fosser in top shape? It might certainly be worth booking 26th June for watching the race. @OnTheRedLineO plans to be there.
And incidentally, for British orienteers, did you notice in the picture of Megan a familiar face in the crowd?
The main index for the Orienteering World Cup Round 1 - choose a tab.
Online Results and GPS tracking are free.
Internet TV with English commentary, which is not free, is a very good way to enjoy the spectacle. It is 6 EURO per broadcast or 12 EURO for all three.
Our reporting during the races is on Twitter. If you don't have a Twitter login you might care to get one (free) and "follow" @OnTheRedLineO. The feed is coming from the races for this competition. We appreciate "likes". And as an orienteer you will prefer to make the setting "latest tweets" rather than the default "top tweets", so you follow your own route rather than that chosen by Twitter's algorithm
Most of the photos in this piece are the work of Rob Lines who we think captures the appeal of our sport very well. You can find Rob's oeuvre of orienteering photographs on Flickr.