England were narrowly beaten by the Belgian (Flanders) team in the 2018 Interland held on 11 March in the woods and dunes of Herperduin, near Oss in North Brabant (Netherlands). Interland takes place annually between England, two Belgian teams (Flemish and French speaking), the Dutch, and a NE France team. Teams, 42 strong, include athletes from 14 classes across the age groups M/W14 to M/W60.

Interland 2018 TeamEngland athletes won six of the classes: Niamh Hunter (WCOC) in W20, Lesley Ross (OD) in W50, Jackie Hallett (BOK) in W60, Euan Tryner (SYO) in M14, Nick Barrable (SYO) in M40, and James Crawford (GO) in M60. Other England athletes in the top 4 in class were: Sam Crawshaw (SYO), Alastair Thomas (WCOC), Duncan Archer (CLOK), Clive Hallett (BOK), Steve Whitehead (EBOR), Maya Hampshire Wright (NN), Jess Ensoll (LOC), Abi Weeds (SLOW), Alison Harding (HH), Janet Rosen (HH) and Christine Kiddier (GO) – the last two making it an England 1,2,3 in W60.

Athletes travelled by coach (though a few flew) from Beaconsfield to the continent via the Channel ferry, with Friday night at a youth hostel Oostduinkerke YH. On the Saturday, after a short stop en route to admire the historic town of Breda (Treaty of Breda 1667) for a walk-about/coffee, we made Herperduin for 2pm, in time for a ‘middle distance’ (training) race. The terrain – adjacent to the Interland area – gave all athletes a very good idea of the terrain and its challenges for the morrow. Accommodation in Holland was in thatched/tiled chalets (4 or 6 person) in the woods on or beside the competition area. After an excellent meal at the event centre De Kriekeput, we held a team meeting to pass on last minute information and to present badges to those athletes representing England for the first time: Euan Tryner, Ben Squire (NOC), Sam Crawshaw, Jack Forrest (DEVON), Alex Mitchell (HOC), Ben Breeze (WCOC), Rebecca O’Donovan ((LOC), Emma van Dam (HALO), Maya Hampshire Wright, Jess Breeze (WCOC), Lily Regan (WCOC), and Jess Ensoll. About half the team chose to race in a ‘night sprint’ race, again on terrain adjacent to the main competition area.

Interland TrophiesHerperduin, which was a ‘new’ area to orienteering, is a mixed forest with moors, lakes (some ‘crossable’) and sand dunes. The map, surveyed and drawn by Gediminas Trimakas at 1:10,000, was accurate with the complex (in parts) topography captured using 2.5m contours (with ridges rising to 20m!) and the wide range of vegetation (in a generally very runnable forest) well portrayed. Sunday dawned a bit overcast (after Saturday’s sunshine) and all the England athletes – many in the new design England O tops – completed their courses, with varying degrees of competitive success. The individual results are HERE (the Interland website has more results from the weekend). It became clear that the team competition was going to be very tight between VVO (Vlaams Verbond voor Oriënteringssporten) and England and when the scores were calculated, England were 5 points adrift (180-175). VVO also won the ‘Youth Trophy’ (calculated on the results of the 20 and under classes) with England second and both FRSO (Fédération Régionale des Sports d’Orientation) and the French LHFCO (Ligue des Hauts de France de Course d’Orientation) very close behind. The team results are HERE.

The Nederlandse Oriënteringsloop Bond (NOLB) hosted Interland this year with the club ‘OLifant’ leading. Gerrit van de Riet and Mark Heikoop were the coordinator and organiser/planner respectively, for which: many thanks. Most athletes benefitted from lifts to and from the south of England provided by parents as well as by team members driving their own (or others’(!)) cars. Thank you to all those who drove. The English Orienteering Council selection panels, the England kit quartermistress (Helen Gristwood) and my assistant team managers (Philip Gristwood, Lesley Ross and Jackie Hallett) all contributed to the generation of the England team. Thank you. Team and individual photos are on the EOC website – mainly taken by Philip Gristwood. A number of England athletes feature in the ‘Photos’ on the NOLB Interland website.

Next year the event will take place in France (10 March 2019 in the Val Joly departmental park (59132 Eppe-Sauvage) located near the Belgian border where England will look to regain the trophies.

John Rye – England Team Manager