Peter Palmer Relays 2016
For the first time in SYO history, there were 3 SYO teams competing in the Peter Palmer Junior Team Relays. Before heading to the venue, the teams assembled for the traditional first stage of team bonding at Pizza Hut. Once everyone was sated we headed onto the accommodation and event centre at Groby School.
After SYO had fought for our rightful space in the tightly packed sportshall (space was allocated by club rather than number of people needing room on the floor)! The juniors headed out for a warm up and yet more team bonding in the form of football - luckily no injuries were sustained in our teams! Meanwhile the adults were finding out all the important details for the next day and, after the football, tried (in the dark) to explain the procedures for the 5am start.
After all teams had been declared, LEI added a surprise twist by declaring the course lengths - significantly longer than anyone was expecting! Each team of 6 juniors had to cover in excess of 30km - there was even an added 250m run out for each leg!
Once the team meeting was completed, it was time for the obligatory team photo/opposition psyche out as 22 SYO tops were paraded en-masse around the building. The psyche out culminated in a full team gathering in the lobby when it was announced the free food bar was closing and the ‘wasps’ descended.
There was just time to get into race kit (why sleep in PJs when you can save 2 mins the next morning?) before the 10.30pm lights out to catch some winks.
Thanks to the ‘no alarms before 4 o’clock’ rule, at 4 on the dot there was a chorus of alarms, much to the annoyance of most of the team, who felt an extra 20 minutes of sleep would have done no harm! Those who were awake headed out to the ‘arena’ excited, but not before the glow sticks and war paint had been suitably applied (we were rather sad not to have won the best face paint award).
The 1st legs were lined up and ready to go. At 5am, still pitch black and to the dulcet tone of the M1, they were off into the deep dark woods (Ratby woodlands)! Even though the courses were longer than expected, the 1st legs were soon through the spectator control by 5.30am the 2nd legs on the leading teams were off! By 6 o’clock it was quickly getting light and more of the team were emerging from the warm sports hall out into the chilly morning to spectate.
The spectator control provided much amusement. The planner had expected runners to emerge from the forest along the only path (it had even been taped for this purpose) to give a decent view of competitors as they approached the control. However, many competitors found more imaginative routes which resulted in competitors bursting out of the forest edge from all directons, keeping spectators and team mangers on their toes! Throughout the competition, especially in the dark, there were many cases of mistaken identity!
The format of the competition is such that, as the relay progresses, the legs that juniors are required to run get shorter and shorter until the longest last leg. This means the handover gets faster and more furious and with the added complication of potentially 3 yellow leg runners on each team all dressed rather similarly, the inevitable happened - one enthusiastic yellow leg runner incorrectly handed over to the keen green runner from another SYO team! The organisers correctly adjusted the finish times and even awarded the two teams a prize for ‘best hand over’.
The results were:
SYOn Fire 2nd Overall, but winning the Joan George (combined orienteering age classes under 90).
SYOung Blood finished in 12th place overall
All SYOver the Place finished a very creditable 17th.
It’s fair to say that a great time was had by all even though everyone was a little sleep deprived by the time morning came. A big well done must be said to all SYO juniors as there were no mis-punches. They also all demonstrated a fantastic attitude throughout the event. The final placings of the teams were particularly impressive as 16 of the 22 juniors were debutants at the competition.
Particular congratulations must go to:
- Callum and Ryan who bravely tackled the night legs having only had 1 evening of practice and never having run in a night competition before.
- The Green legs, Thomas and Hamish, who weren’t fazed by the last-minute surprise of having to run 7.1km, both faring very well.
- Louise for holding her own whilst running the 1st night leg against 21 boys
- Euan for achieving the fastest time on light green
- Naomi, Sam and Imogen for cracking yellow times
- Pippa for holding off the very strong LEI runner on the last leg to ensure we finished 2nd
- Dom for catching up 6 places on his night leg
- Max for an excellent run on orange & bringing the team into 2nd place.
Also a big thank you to all the parents (Charlie E, Rosie, Jacky, Pete, Pauline, Emily and Sylvia) who transported and supported us.
Save the date! Next year’s Peter Palmer Relay is on Sunday 10th September 2017 at Sutton Park near Birmingham. (Juniors must be M/W12 to M/W18). If you would like a chance to get a feel for the terrain before then, there is a great opportunity as the area is being used for the British Schools Orienteering Championships on 20th November 2016.