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British men finish 4th in World Orienteering Championships Relay at Darnaway

by Press Release
Thursday 6th August 2015

Race report: The 2015 IOF World Orienteering Championships (WOC2015) - Friday July 31 to Saturday August 8, 2015

Jess Tullie © Martin Ward. Graham Gristwood © Jan Kocbach

Photos: Jess Tullie © Martin Ward. Graham Gristwood © Jan Kocbach

The IOF World Orienteering Championships 2015 continued today (5 August) when the team relay took place through the woods of the Darnaway Estate near Forres. Denmark took the women’s title and Switzerland the men’s, while the British men ran superbly to finish fourth, just 37 seconds from a medal.

The athletes raced in teams of three, with each runner completing a course of around 35 minutes before handing over to a teammate. The tricky terrain of Darnaway had caught out many top runners during Tuesday’s Middle race at the same venue, and there were more big errors again in this race, with pre-race favourites such as the Russian and Swedish men’s teams losing time early in the course to take themselves out of contention for medals.

Denmark had never won the women’s Relay title going into this race, but confidence was high in the Danish camp after their gold in Saturday’s mixed-gender Sprint Relay and Maja Møller Alm’s triumph in Sunday’s individual Sprint.

The Danish women controlled this Relay right from the start, with Alm again running superbly to establish a one-minute lead on first lap, which Ida Bobach increased by a further three minutes before Emma Klingenberg brought them home to victory.

Both Alm and Bobach pointed out that the Scottish terrain was not dissimilar to the forests they were used to running in at home in Denmark, which might have given them an advantage.  Klingenberg added, “It's perfect! While I was out there I couldn't believe I was running for a gold medal. I'm so happy for my teammates.”

The battle for the other medals was more closely fought, with the Norwegian women just pipping Sweden for silver at the end. The British women’s team of Claire Ward, Cat Taylor and Jess Tullie ran steadily to finish in ninth place.

It was a similarly dominant performance from the Swiss men, who led from the start to take their fifth world title. Fabian Hertner ran the first lap before handing over to Tuesday’s Middle World Champion Daniel Hubmann, who extended the lead to 90 seconds.

Matthias Kyburz, who ran the last lap for the Swiss team, said “It was incredible. Even though I went out with such a big lead, I was really nervous at the start, so I was always thinking ‘we have to do it’, and we did it!”

The British men had an excellent race, and were in contention for medals right up until the final few hundred metres. Scott Fraser put in a solid run at the start, before a fantastic performance from Graham Gristwood brought Great Britain back into the arena in second place at the end of the lap two, to a huge roar from the home crowd.

Ralph Street then faced a tough three-way battle for medals with the French and Norwegian runners on the final lap. Street raced hard but finished fourth, acknowledging that he was disappointed to miss out on a medal, but adding “it's still a good result for us.”

The World Orienteering Championships continues on Friday, when the athletes will face the tough physical challenge of the Long race in the remote Highland wilderness of Glen Affric, with Britain’s Cat Taylor among the favourites for the medals.

The winning Swiss men's team and Danish women's team © Martin Ward

Photos: The winning Swiss men's team and Danish women's team © Martin Ward

Full full details, see the 2015 World Orienteering Championships website at www.woc2015.org

For regular updates, check out the WOC2015 Facebook page: www.facebook.com/WOC2015


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