Hannah's Story - Life in the Scottish Junior Squad

This year Hannah Kingham became the 5th Moravian junior in recent years to be selected for the Scottish Junior Orienteering Squad - or ScotJOS for short.

Hannah has just produced a marvellous piece of writing about her early experiences in the Squad. As more and more young people are getting attracted to orienteering, the standard is gradually creeping up and up. It's much harder than it used to be to get in the national teams, in England and Scotland at least. So it's wonderful to see how the effort put in by Hannah is now reaping its rewards, and we hope that some of the younger folks in the club will be inspired by Hannah's example - just as she's been inspired by others in the club.  Here's Hannah's story.

 

As soon as I started orienteering, I began to notice all the Scotland tops that many people were wearing. It then became my ambition to get into ScotJOS. I looked up to Kathryn Barr (I still do) as she was already in the squad and I set myself the goal to be like her. Last year my ambition became a reality as I became one of the people running in a Scotland top.

The ScotJOS weekends are great training opportunities but they are also a great chance to meet fellow likeminded people with similar ambitions. It’s great fun when at a big event you get the chance to catch up with fellow squad members that you may not have seen for a few months. ScotJOS has certainly opened many doors for me, for example my recent trips to London and mid Wales at the JIRCs and JHIs (Junior Inter-Region Championships and Junior Home Internationals - ed).

The JIRCS was my first ever selection race and my first race at a British level. We flew down to London at 6:30am (we had to be at the airport at 5:30!) and we were competing at 11am. One bit of advice I would give to anyone is; take your time to the first control. I learnt this the hard way and what made it worse it was at my first major competition. I spent 16 minutes looking for a control roughly 15m from a path - I was dead last at this point! I persevered and I managed to finish in 19th with the rest of the course being error free. I had a much better run at the relays the following day as I was cautious to number 1 and I managed to be 4th fastest on leg 2 and my team finished 6th (Scotland got 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 6th). Scotland managed to come back with every single trophy so that was a fantastic result for the team. The evening of the JIRCs (after the individual) was great fun as I got to meet even more orienteers from all over the UK. Someone brought a pack of cards and the next thing I knew we were playing ‘Irish Snap’ (a ScotJOS favourite) in a big group.

2 weeks later I was in Snowdonia for my 2nd time representing Scotland. The JHIs was a much tougher competition as it was the best 4 from each country not region (like the JIRCs). On the first day I was the very first starter - it was a very misty hillside with very minimal paths so it was quite scary being the only 2 people out there (an Irish W18 started at the same time). Other than her I only saw 2 people throughout my course and they were fellow W18 and M16 Scottish team mates. I got to the first control ok given the fact that sometimes I could only see 30m ahead of me. However on the shortest leg of the course I lost concentration and ran off without taking a bearing, the control should only have taken around 40 seconds but I took 4 minutes as I went back to the previous control. I was really pleased with my final result of 6th, however I was even more pleased for 2 of my fellow team mates who finished 1st and 2nd. That night our cabin was suddenly filled with 10 Irish people all wanting a go on the Wii as we were the only cabin that had one. Later that night there was a tympath which was a welsh ceilidh. It was great fun as everyone gave 100% and nobody cared who they danced with. Louis Macmillan (a fellow Scot) took his bagpipes and we taught everyone the ‘Gay Gordons’.

The relays the next day were great as there was no mist and you could see around 7 controls from assembly, so it was a great spectator race. The planners were a bit cruel as there was a massive hill right at the start and from the last control to the finish it was also uphill so it was great when it was a close race. I came back with a clean run and brought my team up one place. I was 5th fastest on my leg and my team finished 5th. Overall the weekend was a blast.

This year I have had so much fun with ScotJOS. My favourite training weekend was the ‘Last Blast’. This is when the 18 year olds who are leaving the Squad organise a training weekend. On the first day they flipped the maps for certain people on Arthur’s seat; we ran left and they ran right. If the second day was to be summed up in two words it would be “eggs" and "relays”. The whole day we did relays getting covered in eggs and flour. On the last relay there was a challenge at each control and to make it even harder we had to do it “3 armed”. After this weekend I have not eaten a single Weetabix because one of the challenges was to eat a dry Weetabix with a dry mouth because it was near the end of the course. It was horrible because we had to follow it with jalapenos.

ScotJOS has given me so many opportunities to compete, make friends, visit different areas and just have fun. Anyone with an ambition to get more out of orienteering should just go for it and try to be selected and I am sure you will.

ScotJOS also promotes a huge variety of life skills such as independence. At the JHIs we were in self-catering cabins, we had to do all our meals and snacks apart from dinner. All the ScotJOS coaching builds on the foundations laid by Moravian coaches. Moravian is very lucky to have a fantastic selection of qualified coaches, I would like to thank ALL the Moravian coaches for helping me reach this level. I would like to give a special thanks to Mike Rodgers, without whom I would not be where I am today as he is the person who inspired me to start orienteering.