nathan-lawson-eoc23-SprintRelay_RLNathan Lawson running leg 2 for GB in the International Sprint Relay at Soave 6th October 2023, photo: Rob Lines

The European Champs Relay took place on Friday 6th October in the walled wine town of Soave. Strong runs from Wednesday's silver and gold medallists in the women's individual sprint, Tove Alexandersson and Sarah Hagstrom, helped Sweden to what was, by the standards of these races, a clear win. A close race on the last leg for the other medals was won by Elena Roos of Switzerland holding off Venla Harju of Finland who was 3rd, and Victoria Haestad Bjornstad of Norway who was 4th. France were 5th and GB 6th.

This chart, from the World Of O Analysis, illustrates the race progress. Sweden and Switzerland are quite close at the front after 2 of the 4 legs, as although Tove Alexandersson had a very strong run on leg 1, Joey Hadorn closed a little on Jonatan Gustafsson on leg 2. (In fact neither had a great run - they did the 8th and 6th fastest leg times, with Jannis Bonek of Austria 30 seconds quicker than Gustafsson.) The chasers are already a minute down however, and GB a further minute back. It was only a highly uncharacteristic relatively poor leg from Matthias Kyburz (see note below) that then opened things up for second place. Tuomas Heikkila of Finland and Kasper Fosser of Norway were able to get close to him by the end of the third leg. Sweden had pulled away and Switzerland, Norway and Finland started the last leg virtually together.

Matthias Kyburz: by the end of the European Champs there were six Championship races (World Champs, European Champs) in 2023 and Matthias has four golds and two silvers from them.

Our InterViews with the GB athletes (on YouTube.)

charlotte-megan-eoc2023SprintRelayCharlotte and Megan

The course had some complexity at the start because of route choice legs from artificial barriers and in the middle where the runners climbed 50m underneath the castle. The last part was more straightforward and fast running.

There were four possible control combinations on each leg.

Charlotte Ward's race went pretty much as hoped. She says she is not back at her best fitness because of injury, but she finished in a group including Norway and Finland, and in fact did the fastest of the leg 1 runners with her particular control combination.

charlotte-ward-eoc23SprintRelay_RLCharlotte Ward ran first leg,coming back with Finland and Norway but over a minute off the very fast first leg runners for Sweden and Switzerland, photo: Rob Lines

Nathan earned selection with an excellent 20th place in the individual sprint two days before: he was just 43 seconds down on winner Matthias Kyburz. The first half (8 minutes) of his race went pretty much as hoped, losing a few seconds to the fastest but not more. The second half he lost some speed and it went less well. A physical problem may have developed.

nathan-lawson-eocSprintRelay23_otrlNathan Lawson, starts leg 2 alongside Eirik Langedal Breivik of Norway, photo: On The Red Line

nathan-lawson-eoc23-SprintRelayNathan at the arena passage, photo: Rob Lines

Ralph Street took the third leg, bringing the team from 10th to 7th with the third fastest leg time.

ralph-street-eoc23SprintRelay_RLRalph Street ran leg 3 for GB, photo: Rob Lines

Megan, although running her control combination fastest, did not hit her best form, but she comfortably passed Denmark to secure the podium position. Even her best (i.e. a time like Simona Aebersold) would not have been good enough to get in the battle for the medals.

megan-carter-davies-eoc23-SprintRelayMegan Carter-Davies brings GB in to sixth place, photo: On The Red Line

viktoria-mag-sprintRelay-eoc2023_otrlViktoria Mag ran a notably good leg 1 for Hungary, coming bak half a minute down on Simona Aebersold but half a minute ahead of the chasing group including GB..

cecile-calandry-eocSprintRelay23_otrlCecile Calandry took the last leg for France, holding 5th position.

Podium Pictures

SR-podium-eoc2023_otrlThe Podium

GB-eoc2023SprintRelay_RLThe GB Team, photo: Rob Lines

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