Smashing September

by Brad Connor — 30th September 2019.

With the arrival of September comes the return of a packed orienteering calendar, including major competitions in the form of the Senior and the Veteran Home Internationals, the Junior Inter-Regional Champs, the Junior European Cup and round 3 of the World Cup. All of these prestigious events saw FVO members representing their respective nations.

At the Senior Home Internationals, held in Wales on the 7th/8th September, four FVO members were in action: Graeme Gristwood, Grace Molloy and Jamie Stevenson running for Scotland, and Marcus Pinker for Ireland. GG and Grace were first and second respectively in their individual classes, but England were too strong overall and the Scottish team had to settle for second place.

The Scottish team for the Vetern Home Internationals (21st/22nd) boasted no less than ten call-ups from FVO, with nine actually making it to the start line without injury (always the primary challenge at the VHIs). Jon Cross and Vicky Thornton lined up for England in M50 and W55 respectively, whilst Marcus Pinker and Brad Connor donned the Irish kit. Again, despite home advantage for the Scots, the English team proved victorious, winning both days.

Neatly sandwiched between the two HIs, the British Sprint and Middle Distance Champs were held on 14th/15th September. The Sprint race saw four FVO Champions (6 podiums in all), and the Middle race was ever better, with five FVO winners and 7 podiums in all. Both Will Hensman (M40) and Grace M (W20) "did the double", with Will's trophy cabinet now boasting a full set of all major championship trophies in 2019. That's a lot of silverware to polish.

At the JIRCs, held in a tropical monsoon in Yorkshire on 28th/29th September, James Hammond and Pierre Lardet both ran brilliantly and were part of the victorious Scottish team. They are still drying out as I type. On the same weekend, but in much sunnier conditions in Ardeche (France), Grace was back in action at the Junior European Cup, with a Silver in the Sprint race and what would have been a Bronze medal in the sadly voided Long Distance race. A strong anchor leg in the Relay event on the final day rounded off a remarkable, break-through year of international performances from Grace. Peter Molloy and Lizzie Stansfield also flew the flag for Britain - and FVO! - and logged solid performances.

The final weekend in September sported yet another international stage for FVO athletes, with Kris Jones and Chris Smithard in action at the World Cup races in Switzerland. The stand-out performance was from Kris, who nailed his Sprint race and earned a fine Silver medal.

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