Last weekend a group of 25 University of Sheffield Athletes and 5 Sheffield Hallam Athletes, who all run for ShUOC, travelled to Ilkley for the British University and College Sports Championships for Orienteering. After making sure we were all ready and knew what to expect we travelled with high hopes of success and were keen to set our seasons off in style.
In the individual race ShUOC dominated the men with Dave Schorah (Hallam) winning ahead of Jonny Crickmore and Will Gardner (both Sheffield). With another two members inside the top-10 (Jonny Malley and Matt Elkington), Sheffield University stormed to individual mens victory being 35points ahead of distant Edinburgh University. In the womens race, a typical scene unfolded with strong running from both the Edinburgh (10points) and Durham (38) girls placing Sheffield Universities (39) girls in 3rd overnight. This meant that for the first time in years Sheffield went in to the relays with a 6point lead ahead of fierce rivals Edinburgh equivalent to 2 places, basically our girls had to outperform Edinburgh's boys.
Overnight - much fun was had by all as we re-acquainted ourselves with friends, although unfortunately, Sheffield managed to lose its hold upon the beer race trophy. We must have focussed too much on physical performance!
Going in to the relays the teams were finalised with a few disappointments and some nerves. Our boys were ready and well capable of finishing with 2 or even 3 teams on the podium, if things went our way on the day and our girls knew the situation. 3-2-1-Go and the boys were off. Matt E and Jonny M led the way with Bristol, Durham and Oxford close by. 10mins later and the girls went off too!
At this point it was a wait and see. Listening to the action via radio announcement - Matt E was still with the leaders, with Jonny M just behind the leading group, although the hill sorted it out with Bristol back first with Sheffield, Durham and Oxford all close. Whilst unfortunately - Jonny M lost quite a bit of time coming in with Chris Owens(Sheffield 3), though not quite out of the race, with Will Gardner going out chasing hard.
Jenny Evans managed to have a stormer of a race to bring the girls back in 3rd! Just behind Cambridge and Durham, but ahead of Edinburgh! Again the wait was on. In the boys we knew Oxford were the main rivals with 3 strong runners and a bit of a gap ahead of us, whilst the girls were hoping to stay up there and hoped for a podium. Oxford came and left and 3mins passed 'til Sheffield 2 with Ben Malliphant appeared, roughly 1min ahead of Will (Sheffield 1). Clare Howes brought the girls back in 3rd after another strong run behind Edinburgh and Durham, setting Tamsin off with a decent gap over Edinburgh 2.
The boys thought it was over, fighting for a Silver with Oxford now long gone. Yet after a bit of a wait we saw Sheffield 1 and Sheffield 2, anchored by Jonny C and Olly Williams respectively, punch the last control and jog along the run-in unaware they'd caught and passed Oxford. The girls had overtaken Durham to take 2nd place!