SEDS

Scottish Elite
Development Squad

Venla

Hollie Orr, Jess Tullie, Kirstin Maxwell and Jo Shepherd in Finland, ready to do battle in Venla.

Scotland girls battled it out at Venla at the weekend - over 1200 teams entered - could they beat their previous best of 83rd??

Fortunes started well for team Scotland at Jukola this year, emerging from our army tent on Saturday morning after a windy night, a sea of flattened tents greeted us. A good omen for us.

Girls were up first in Venla, and there were high spirits as Hollie was warming up to do battle on the formidable, elbows out first leg. Standing on the line, 5 rows back, with about 40 rows breathing down her neck, she was getting nervous. The maps appeared with less than 2 minutes to go and suddenly the military rifle echoed through the arena, and they were off!

Hollie knew the first part of the race was going to be rapid, so kept in touch with the map and ground it out until the technical part, where the field dispersed and the real race began. Hollie emerged from this part in the top 20, and teammates Kirstin, Jess and Jo were getting a bit scared, but there wasn’t much time to think about it as Hollie was soon emerging from the forest in 19th position.

Jess was off in a pack of 25, which split up with the first gaffle into smaller groups. 2nd and 3rd legs were 2km shorter, with 6km mainly staying in the flatter, more runnable section. This made for some fast and furious racing! Jess’ job was to stay in control and hang on and give Kirstin a good starting position.

Kirstin headed out on 3rd in 28th position, determined to overcome her demons of Jukola-past. Setting out in a high position increases excitement, but with it comes the added anxiety. Kirstin coped well with both and finished in 46th, handing over to Jo to run the last, but beastly leg.

Jo’s first foray into the realms of the world’s elite on the last leg of the biggest relay in the world was to be a successful one. Jo ran solo for the fast, first half of the course. She came out of the technical section relatively unscathed to face the longest leg of the course, which she’d pre-determined the best way to attack was straight. Back in the arena, the teammates were waiting nervously, hoping we’d beat Scotland’s best position of 83rd from 2010. The Scotland colours appeared out the forest and Jo had had a great run to smash our record, finishing in 61st position! Next up, the men…

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