On Saturday 9th September 23 SYO juniors travelled to Sutton Coalfield to take part in the annual Peter Palmer relay challenge.
The weekend began with the traditional team pizza before we continued the journey to Sutton Coalfield. On arrival at the sports centre the team quickly grabbed a luxurious spot on the gym floor and laid out mats and sleeping bags. We then rushed out to recce the start and changeover before it got dark. The juniors then had a bit of free time, so most of them headed off to play 5 a-side footy until it got too dark to see the ball, while the adults relaxed in costa coffee!
The footy was followed by a team meeting where we embarrassed Dom by singing happy birthday. Jacky gave a rousing team talk while the juniors scoffed birthday cake. Then it was time to lay out all the kit so there were no last minute panics before the evening ended with the obligatory nail varnishing and team photo.
4.15am arrived with a cacophony of alarms as first leg runners and supporters emerged from their sleeping bags. The SYO team were very calm and organised and there was even time for face painting as we waited for call up.
Finally 4.50am arrived and Dom (SYO killer bees), Yasmin (SYO worker bees) & Joe (SYO bumble bees) made their way to the start line ready for the mass start. Eventually 5am arrived and the 24 runners rushed off into the night with their head torches bazing. Then we settled down to a nervous wait for the first arrivals at the spectator control.
WCOC 1 were the first through the spectator control and then just 2 minutes later Dom arrived in the chasing pack with 6 other runners. Positions remained unchanged for the final loop and Dom handed over to Ryan in 7th place - a great start for SYO Killer Bees. Yasmin and Joe also had good runs bringing SYO's two other teams home safely.
Ryan had an excellent run on leg 2 against some very experienced orienteers to gain one place for SYO. He handed safely over to Sam Crawshaw on 3rd leg. By now it was starting to get light and the spectators enjoyed a gorgeous sunrise whilst sipping hot tea from O Nosh. A good, solid run by Sam kept SYO's 6th position in the overall competition and 3rd place in the Joan George Competition for teams with a combined age of 90 or under. We were still in contention!
Next out was Alex E (each team must have at least 2 girls) on the orange leg. Her speedy time of just 21 minutes barely gave time for a trip to the loo and within no time at all Alex C, Josie and Naomi were out on the yellow leg. At the Peter Palmers you are allowed up to 3 runners on leg 5 and it is the first one back that makes the handover. A fab run by Alex (closely persued by Josie and Naomi) meant she was first back to send Euan out in 5th place overall and 3rd place on the Joan George Trophy.
The spectators then settled down for an anxious wait. Could Euan catch up the other 2 teams in the Joan George on the long green leg? WCOC 1 arrived at the spectator control, followed by MAROC 1 and then no-one else. Suddenly a shout from Dom - "There's Euan!" He was being closely followed by the OD runner but seemed to be clear of LEI and WCOC 2 - our rivals in the Joan George. An anxious 8 minutes followed until Euan appeared on the run in to take 3rd place overall and win the Joan George trophy to the great delight of the SYO team. A superb team effort.
There were also excellent runs by the juniors in SYO's other teams. Special mention must go to Conrad, Olmo and Carys for very fast times on the yellow and to Seb and Max for great performances on the red night leg and long green leg respectively. Well done also to Isobel Reuber for bravely stepping up to run one of the night legs with no night orienteering experience whatsoever! Throughout the weekend the behaviour and attitude of all the juniors was superb.
Thank you to Anita, Pete M, Sylvia, Paul T and Amanda for chauffeuring and supporting and particular thanks to team captain Jacky for master minding another SYO victory. In 2018 the Peter Palmer relay is over the same weekend - venue to be confirmed. Any SYO junior from M/W12 upwards can take part so put the date in the diary!