Last weekend Laurence travelled to Bulgaria to represent Great Britain in the European Youth Orienteering Championships. He was selected as one of the 4 U16 boys in the 16 strong team after a good set of results earlier in the season.
The first day was the sprint distance which is a 12 – 15 minute fast paced event held in an urban and parkland environment. Laurence held his head well in his first major international competition and finished in 20th place out of 98 starters, first Brit in his age class and one of the best British results of the competition.
The next day was the long distance event which was around an hour of running over a forested hillside. This was a tough physical and technical challenge unlike any areas at home, and despite losing time on some tricky legs, Laurence pushed hard to get a solid result.
These first two results earned Laurence a place in the relay team. This consisted of three legs of about 30 mins in the forest. Unlike the individual events which are time trials where everyone runs the same course, the relay is a mass start, but with teams having slightly different courses at different parts of the race. This makes for a high pressure environment where it is easy to be distracted by other runners going in slightly different directions after a few common controls. The U16 boys acquitted themselves well finishing in 7th place, a tantalising 1 second away from 6th which earns an international diploma, and the best British result of the day.
Overall the trip was a fantastic experience and Laurence is motivated to try to achieve selection again for next year’s championships.