Newborough Forest, 22-23 October 2016

England Team Manager’s Report

The 2016 Senior Home International was hosted by Eryri Orienteering Club (with assistance from DEE) on behalf of Wales. Both individual and relay races were held on the forested dunes of Newborough Forest, first used for the 1995 British Championships. The whole weekend was organised and coordinated by Jim Wood of Eryri. Jim and his team provided a top class weekend of racing with ideal accommodation for all four Home Nations at the Conway Centre on Anglesey.

In the Individual race England convincingly won the W21 class. Scotland narrowly won both the M21 and M20 classes with England in second place. There was a tie in the W20 class between Scotland and Wales with England pushed down into third place. This gave Scotland a 5 point lead over England overnight with Wales in third and Ireland fourth. The following day England took first and third place in the Men’s relay and first and fourth in the Women’s relay. This gave England a 27 to 23 point victory in the relay, one point short of the deficit from the previous day. Scotland therefore retained the SHI trophy by a single point. Wales cemented their third place finish, comfortably beating the Irish.

Day 1 Individual
Newborough Forest

The courses were excellently planned by Bill Teahan (who had also updated the map). The weather was perfect with fantastic views across the Menai Straits to the mountains of Snowdonia. They were true full length long/classic races providing a thorough examination of both technique and endurance. Lapses of concentration were punished. The M21 course was just short of 15 km and only Graham Gristwood beat the expected winning time of 90 minutes. The other course lengths were calculated using published ratios but winning times were all a little on the long side. The ever encroaching undergrowth may have had something to do with this. This said, the area is still one of the very best in the UK and the map is of the highest quality.

The English W21s performed brilliantly, taking a clean sweep of the podium. Cat Taylor won with Tessa Strain (happy maintaining her English allegiance despite recently marrying a Scot) in 2nd and Lucy Butt in 3rd. England beat Scotland by 55 points to 33 in the W21 class. It was much closer in the M21 class: Scotland narrowly edging England into 2nd by 43 points to 40. Unfortunately the points which matter are the team scores which are based on the team position in each class. Therefore honours were shared across M21 and W21. England was also unfortunate in the junior (M/W20) classes where Julie Emmerson had to retire injured. Despite a great performance by Sarah Jones, England could only finish 3rd in W20 behind both Scotland and Wales. England also narrowly lost out to Scotland in M20, with Harrison McCartney (running up a class) in 2nd, backed up by Dane Blomquist who narrowly missed out on 3rd. Scotland won the Dolgellau Bowl for the leading team after the first day’s competition.

Individual Team Results
  Men Women Overall
Scotland 15 12 27
England 11 11 22
Wales 5 10 15
Ireland 5 3 8

Day 2 Relay
Newborough Forest

Though the same area as the Individual competition, the good planning meant this didn’t present any problem as courses were routed in opposite directions whenever the same areas were used. The courses made use of some of the open dunes along the coast and there was a nicely placed spectator control at around two thirds distance. The winning leg times did prove a little on the long side with no one managing the expecting winning time of 40 minutes. This meant that there were some long gaps between runners. The weather was again fine and conditions ideal for racing and spectating.

The Women’s relay started first with the Men going off 10 minutes later. The top English Women’s team (Sarah Jones, Lucy Butt and Tessa Strain) ran away from the start to record an amazing 12 minute victory! The second team was well placed with Saturday’s winner, Cat Taylor, setting off within catching distance of the leading Scottish team. Unfortunately Cat wasn’t feeling well and was unable to run to her potential. She persevered, finishing in 4th place which was important as we were one team down with Julie’s injury. At one stage it looked like Wales might do England a favour by pushing the leading Scottish team into third place but current Hungarian International, Fanni Gyurko (eligible for Scotland by residence), was able to outsprint Anwen Darlington of Wales to take 2nd.

The Men’s relay also provided a lot of excitement. The first Scottish team was in the lead on 3rd leg when it became known that their 2nd leg had mis-punched. This failure had the potential to turn the whole SHI England’s way. However, once the mis-punch became apparent, Alasdair McLeod, suffering from an injury sustained in the Individual race and hoping not to have to run, was kitted out, dosed up with painkillers and went out on last leg for the Scottish ‘3rd team’. He ran amazingly well through considerable pain to anchor his team into 2nd place. Despite the Scottish heroics, England won the relays by a margin of 4 points. When combined with the scores from the previous day, however, the SHI scores were Scotland 50, England 49, Wales 29 and Ireland 16. A Scottish victory then, in the closest SHI for many years.

Relay Team Results
  Men Women Overall
England 14 13 27
Scotland 12 11 23
Wales 5 9 14
Ireland 5 3 8
  Men Women Overall
Scotland 27 23 50
England 25 24 49
Wales 10 19 29
Ireland 10 6 16

Accommodation and travelling

All four teams were accommodated at the Conway Centre on Anglesey. The accommodation was fully catered from Saturday morning trough to Sunday morning with packed lunches provided each day. Team members were all able to travel to the event by car from various parts of the UK. Thanks are due to those able to offer lifts to those without their own transport.

Huge thanks are due to Jim Wood who co-ordinated the whole weekend and to ERYRI for hosting the weekend. Also to planner Bill Teahan and Controller John Kewley. Organiser and Controller both got far more than they bargained for with all the pre-event discussion over the change in the eligibility rules!
My thanks also to the England team members for advice and generally helping to make my job easy over the whole weekend.

Charlie Adams
England SHI Team Manager