An exciting relay finish to the Junior World Orienteering Championships saw the New Zealand team pick up more world-class results and justify their tag of "best-ever junior team".
The women were the first out in the forest in the high-speed relay format.
Led by Kate Morrison the New Zealanders were in 10th at the first changeover, and Jaime Goodwin took over for the team, just 3 minutes back from the leading Swede.
A see-saw battle ensued but Goodwin kept the team in 10th place, handing over to Angela Simpson for the final leg.
After a superb week of four tough races - including a podium 6th place for Angela - pressure and tiredness were expected to impact on the anchor leg runners.
But adrenaline and a “big-race” mentality kicked in, and Simpson had another world class run to move the team into 9th place, equalling the best-ever relay performance by a junior team (9th in Lithuania in 1997).
New Zealand champion Lizzie Ingham summed it up: “We've never quite put it together in the girls relay like we're capable of - it seems hard to get 3 good runs together. But this year the team has done it!”
More excitement come as the mens team of Gene Beveridge, Matt Ogden and Toby Scott toed the start line.
Gene Beveridge was the first man out and ran a world-class race to keep pace with the lead pack, despite the “splits” - course variations to reduce following in mass starts.
He was just 29 seconds behind the Estonian Raido Mitt at the changeover - with 16 runners all bunched within just 71 seconds.
New Zealander spectators hopes soared to see Matt Ogden head out amongst the worlds best juniors, some 2 minutes in front of middle distance champion Robert Merl.
Spectators were occasionally informed of the “swarming” lead packs progress via radio controls, with the Austrian Merl drawing closer to the front and Matt Ogden racing like never before.
Then - "in second at the spectator control" - "in fourth at the second last control" - Ogden was right up there and New Zealand was looking better than ever before!
Robert Merl accelerated to the lead with the host nation’s Rafa³ Podziñski nine seconds behind him, and then Matt Ogden flew in to the 3rd leg changeover at the front of a pack of ten runners strung out over 52 seconds.
Toby Scott then took on the anchor leg against the world-class orienteers, all heading at breakneck pace through the Polish forest, one eye on the map and the other on the pack.
It was a long and tense eight kilometres and when they emerged at the finish the Polish runner raced in ahead of a long line strung out over several minutes.
Scott had raced his heart out and stayed in touch with the race but couldn’t get past the determined Europeans, bringing the team home in a spectacular 12th place.
Spectators and web-viewers could now draw breath after witnessing one of New Zealand’s bravest and talented tilts at relay glory, for men and women, capping off a wonderful week of top performances from the team.
Sprint - 6th place for Angela Simpson, 21st for Matt Ogden, 30th for Toby Scott;
Middle - 6 qualifiers for the final with 4 in the top 7 of heats; Matt Ogden 15th and Toby Scott 30th in final;
Long distance - 22nd for Toby Scott, 22nd for Angela Simpson, 30th for Matt Ogden;
Relay - 9th place for women - Kate Morrison, Jaime Goodwin and Angela Simpson; 12th place for men - Gene Beveridge, Matt Ogden and Toby Scott
And amongst all the top performances the younger team-members were running their hearts out, setting new personal benchmarks and gathering valuable experience for future championships; notably finishing all the men in the top half of the sprint and the mens and womens second relay teams finishing ahead of both Australian and all other non-European teams.
Results: Junior World Orienteering Championships Relay
Rumia - Wejherowo, Poland
1 Poland, 01:53:33, Piotr Parfianowicz 00:28:23, Rafał Podziński 00:42:43, Michał Olejnik 00:42:27;
2 Sweden 01:53:56, Jonas Nordstrom 00:27:06, Richard Olsson 00:44:32, Albin Ridefelt 00:42:18;
3 Czech Republic 01:54:47, Michal Hubacek 00:27:11, Marek Schuster 00:44:28, Pavel Kubat 00:43:08;
12 New Zealand 01:59:42, Gene Beveridge 00:27:23, Matt Ogden 00:44:14, Toby Scott 00:48:05.
1 Sweden 01:42:32, Helena Karlsson 00:30:55, Linea Martinsson 00:37:09, Tove Alexandersson 00:34:28;
2 Czech Republic 01:48:51, Adleka Indrakowa 00:32:00, Denisa Kosova 00:39:01, Tereza Novotna 00:37:50;
3 Denmark 01:48:57, Ita Klingenberg 00:35:53, Emma Klingenberg 00:37:49, Ida Bobach 00:35:15;
9 New Zealand 01:56:02, Kate Morrison 00:34:57, Jaime Goodwin 00:40:22, Angela Simpson 00:40:43.