Report by Laura King
The European Youth Orienteering Championships (EYOC) 2017 was held in Banska Bystrica, a region of Slovakia. After competing in six selection races earlier in spring, I was selected to represent Great Britain along with six other British athletes.
The team flew out on the 28th June 2017, two days before the first race in order to attend the model event. The model event is on similar areas to the races which allows you to familiarise yourself with the terrain before competing. Unfortunately, my last A level exam was on the 29th. This meant I had to jump in a car to the airport as soon as my physics exam finished. Luckily my parents offered to come with me to hire a car and drive me to the accommodation from Warsaw airport. I managed to get a few hours sleep before waking up on the morning of the sprint race.
The sprint race was held in the town of Banska Stiavanca. My preparation for this race was not ideal however I tried to put that behind me and focus on the race. The start of the race was quite high up on one side of the valley so the first half of the race was mostly spent running downhill along dirt tracks and paths between people’s gardens. This meant the navigation was quite simple but because of the fast pace route choice had to be made very quickly. The second half was on the other side of the valley which was very steep so there were several sets of old wooden stairs which made running tricky. I finished first female Brit though in 30th position.
The next day was the long distance race. Having missed the model event, this was my first time in the terrain so I wasn’t sure what to expect. I felt the first part of my race was a little hesitant and I wasn’t finding the best lines through the terrain. This lead to several small time losses which added up. I settled into the race more for the second half. I finished in 30th which was an improvement on last year’s performance however I still feel that with more time for better preparation I could have had a cleaner race.
The last day was the relay. I was running second leg. The area was the same as the previous day so I felt more confident. My first leg runner lost a lot of time to the leaders so I set off with the aim to have a clean run and climb up as many positions as possible. I ticked off the first few controls nicely then there was one leg straight up a very steep slope. I caught sight of the next girls just ahead so pushed up the hill to catch them. I kept focus for the next few legs and managed to get away from them. I climbed 5 positions and was 5th fastest on 2nd leg of the relay, which I was happy with.
EYOC was another great opportunity to gain experience competing in foreign terrain against the best orienteers in my age group in Europe. I’d like to thank the YHOA for financially supporting me so that I can continue my junior orienteering career.