SYO Retain the Joan George Plate
After 5 hours of minibus madness, music and MacDonald’s we arrived at the home of Winnie The Pooh for a quick stretch of the legs in the ‘Enchanted Forest’ before heading across to Michael Hall School the venue for this year’s Peter Palmer Relays. The evening consisted of volleyball, basketball, burgers, a quick look at the arena, a football match against Cumbria and Sweden, and then a few hours’ trying to sleep on the gym floor before the 5.00am start of the race.
West Cumberland were the pre-race favourites having won for the last 3 years and despite losing all but one of last year’s team they still had strength throughout including three W18s on the Yellow course! Octavian Droobers also had an experienced team as did local club Southdown Orienteers and this year two Swedish clubs sent strong teams as part of an exchange with their Tio Mila relay. With lots of keen youngsters, SYO opted to spread experience more widely managing to field three teams in the main 6 person overnight race and 2 teams in the DayBreak relay.
The Killer Bees had the slower of the two gaffles on the first leg and lost touch with the pack in the bracken filled forest section coming home 9 minutes down in 10th place but ahead of the Swedish team OK Linne. Dom ran an excellent race to bring the team back into contention in 3rd place but still 10 minutes down on West Cumberland and Southdown who suspiciously had been given the same gaffle throughout! The last leg proved decisive for West Cumberland pulling away to take the win while Southdown just managed to hold on to 2nd place in a sprint finish with OK Linne. The Killer Bees slipped back behind the Swedes but with strong runs from Freya, Anna and Euan managed to hold on to 4th overall and crucially 1st place in the Joan George handicap class for the 4th year in a row!
Matthew coped brilliantly with the challenge of the first leg bringing the Bumble Bees back in 11th place and Sam T, Oscar and Jamie all picked up places to bring the team back in 5th place and 2nd in the Joan George class beating all the other second teams. The Wanna Bees finished a very creditable 10th place out of 18 teams with Conrad and James having particularly good runs. In the DayBreak Relay the Bees Knees and Worker Bees teams battled it out in the middle of the pack until the last leg when Robbie put in the 2nd fastest time to move from 6th to 3rd place and sneak a podium position.
Saxons Orienteering Club delivered a great event including a proper DJ with dry ice, and a magnificent setting bathed in early morning sunshine with medals, trophies and chocolate on board we piled into the minibuses for the long but not quite as loud trip home to Sheffield.
Many thanks to Jacky for managing the teams, Nick for commentating and writing the race report above and Jacky, Dave, Nick and Rob for driving the mini-buses. Next year’s Peter Palmer Junior Relays take place during the weekend 12 - 13 September in the Lake District on WCOC home terrain!