Between 5 and 10 cm of snow lay on the ground when the vast majority of the world’s elite orienteers competed in the traditional season-opener Spring Cup in Denmark last weekend. Spring cup is always an interesting weekend providing the first real test for runners and clubs with a classic race on the Saturday followed by a relay on the Sunday.
The men’s classic race was won by Swiss runner Mattias Merz with Sweden’s Jonas Pilblad second, followed by Great Britain’s Jamie Stevenson. Dave Shepherd and Rob Walter placed 75th and 77th respectively with only five seconds separating them. “There was so much snow! I’m happy that my ankle held up well though, now I’m just lacking competition form” said Shepherd who, along with several other Australians, will be continuing his preparation for WOC in Denmark with a training camp in Silkeborg this week.
Spring Cup is known for its close finishes but Simone Niggli made sure the women’s race was far from that. She outclassed a quality field and won by 3:26 to Finland’s Mina Kauppi and Switzerland’s Lea Muller. Allison Jones was 97th, Mace Neve 122nd and Cassie Trewin 128th.
The Spring Cup relay was held on Sunday in anything but inviting weather as the runners encountered snow and rain. Simone Niggli won once again with her Swedish club Ulricehamns OK. It was an impressive win for the Swedish club considering the Finnish national team had decided to enter a full strength team in preparation for WOC later this year. The Finns were eventually second, 1:25 down, with Swedish club IK Hakarspojkarna third. Allison Jones anchored her Swedish club OK Linne to 40th place.
The men’s relay was won by Finland’s Vehkalahden Veikot followed by Sweden’s IFK Gothenburg and Vaajakosken Tera from Finland. Dave Shepherd’s Swedish club Gothenburg Majorna OK was 25th and Malungs OK from Sweden with Rob Walter running the final leg came home in 45th.