Several Gophers made the journey to Anglesey for a weekend of high quality orienteering in Newborough Forest, a wonderful area of forested sand dunes. Saturday saw the JOK Chasing Sprint, a two round affair with a prologue followed by a chasing start race (where the leader goes off first). Linda Pakuls led W55+ after round 1 and made a good start in the chase, but was passed by her main rival in a complex low-visibility area. Luck was on Linda’s side, however, as her rival then failed to punch a control on the last loop. Nick Green had a decent run in the prologue to lie 4th but a couple of bad misses in the chase saw him slip to 7th in M40+. James Crawford was placed 7th after round 1, some 3 minutes adrift, after trouble at control 2. The second round of M55+ proved to be the closest race of the day, with James managing to reel in the pack on the last loop. A clean route into the final control gave him the opportunity to sprint clear for victory by 5 seconds; just 21 seconds covered the first five places.
Sunday’s Welsh Championships were almost bound to be an anticlimax after this. However the organising club Eryri had had first pick of the area and the courses made good use of the superb western half of the forest. James and Linda maintained their form with 2nd places, while Jenny Nicholls and Nick both finished 4th. If only we could run in forests like this every week….Perhaps the best UK area outside Scotland?