2022 Senior Home Internationals (SHIs) – Find out more..
The Senior Home Internationals is the annual competition between teams from England, Ireland (Northern Ireland and Eire), Scotland, Wales – the home nations. It would normally involve 3 men and 3 women in the M/W 20 age category (aged 20 and under) and 6 senior men and 6 senior women (aged 21 years and over). It is an important event for offering international competition opportunity and experience to many up and coming British and Irish elite athletes.
This year’s competition had a number of challenges – the location near Southampton (almost as far as you can get for most of our athletes!), the November date (out of competition season for the top runners), and the clashes with various other competitions (such as JWOC and cross country races) and life events (university open days) – all of which made selecting a competitive team very difficult. Despite asking a number of athletes, we were unable to fill the team in M21 or W21, but fortunately Alex Carcas took a day trip out from working in London, and Lorna Eades kindly stepped up from helper role to make sure that we at least had 3 full relay teams for men and women.
Saturday saw the relay race at Hogmoor Inclosure, an ex-army training venue with a labyrinth of tank tracks – not super difficult on paper, but suitably challenging at high speed, and in a head to head race with other runners. The men were off first, with James Hammond (running up to M20 as an M16!) coming back first on first leg, handing over to Graham Gristwood who extended the lead, and the Ali McLeod brought the team home for the win. England had selected 3 ‘equal’ teams, and there was a decent battle between those 3 teams and the Scotland 2nd team early on, especially when it turned out one of the England teams had mispunched on leg 1. James Ackland, Frank Townley (running for Scotland for the first time after a late call up) and Doug Tullie all ran respectably, but were not strong enough to beat either of the England teams in the end, meaning that the men’s relay was tied between England and Scotland. The 3rd team of Alex Carcas, Oscar Shepherd and Andy Llewellyn (who ran the VHIs for Scotland only recently as well) managed to beat all the Irish and Welsh teams to finish a very creditable 5th place – with Andy especially running a decent time on leg 3. The women’s race was far more open, with one observer stating that each of the 9 teams had been in the lead at some point. Emma Wilson came back first on leg 1 for the Scotland 1st team, handing over the Daisy McNamara who kept in the fight all the way. After leg 2 the Welsh 2nd team was in the lead, followed by the Irish team with Scotland in 4th – all 4 teams within 2 minutes. Kirstin Maxwell went out on last leg, and managed to pass Ireland and Wales, but was overtaken by the 2nd England team – meaning they took the top 2 places. The 2nd team of Kirsten Strain, Fiona Eades and Mairi Eades were never far behind, finishing in 6th behind 3 England teams and one Welsh team (who had a storming Megan Carter-Davies on last leg to bring them past into 5th place). The 3rd team of Louise Adams (on her Scotland debut), Ruth Gooch (running up to W20 as a W16!) and Lorna Eades (running up to W21 as a W55!) were the next team in 7th (also in front of Wales until leg 3), with Louise especially running well to place 4th on leg 1. This left England well ahead in the women, with Scotland in 2nd. Overall England were ahead after the relays by 28 points to 23.
Sunday was the individual race, held at the November Classic on an area new to orienteering. It was classic New Forest terrain, fairly flat, generally good runnability and visibility, but often with vague shapes and vegetation – it certainly caught many runners out technically. In the junior women, Daisy was 2nd and Ruth was 3rd (and Fiona 4th), and with England runners 1st and 5th (2 runners to count), this class was tied. In the junior men, James beat all the M18s and M20s to take the win, and with Frank in 3rd, Scotland could win this class in front of England (Oscar was 6th). In the senior women, Megan Carter-Davies (Wales) was the clear winner, but then English runners took 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 6th for a comfortable win in that class. Emma was the fastest Scot in 5th place, with Kirsten Strain 8th, Mairi 11th and Kirstin Maxwell 13th (Louise was 14th). Unfortunately, Megan’s win, backed up by some other solid Welsh results, meant that Scotland were pushed down into 3rd place in W21, essentially sealing the overall win for England. In the senior men, Scotland lead the way with Graham and Ali in 1st and 2nd, backed up by Doug and James in 8th and 10th to win the class from England, who took 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th (really close scores between England and Scotland!). This meant that despite winning 2 classes and tying a 3rd, the individual day was tied between England and Scotland (25 points each), leaving England the overall title by 53 points to Scotland’s 48.
There were some really strong performances from Scottish athletes on English soil this year, and there was a great team spirit despite the long travel time and the weather. We look forward to sending a strong Scotland team to the competition next year in Wales to challenge for the overall victory.
Many thanks to Murray Strain and Lorna Eades for managing the team on the weekend, and doing a lot of driving!
Next year there will be a team photo!