Today, the Flemish Relay Championship was held in Leopoldsburg. Teams of three runners, where each runner has a certain number of points, according to the age of the runner, and a team has no more than 46 points. You could already find the teams in our previous post on subject.
The favourites before the start were: the TROL team with Jeremy Genar and Frans Laenen and Michel Wens, the hamok team with Jeroen van der Kleij, Bart Mellebeek and Georges Deferme and the two KOL teams around Pieter Hendrickx and Jan Gilot, with Yannick Michiels. Outsiders were Omega with Kim Wallaert, François Jacobs and Elisabeth Henkes.
The first leg was not all that deciding, with the fastest runners mostly on the third leg, yet still a lot of fast runners ready to storm into the forest. The start took place in an open field and some runners did not deem it necessary to go to the start flag as you can see in the following picture. The same runner also decided to not take the obligational crossing point to the last control, evading a sprint with Fons Bosch (TROL), but instead jumping over a wooden fence, which was forbidden.
During the first leg, lots of mistakes were made and this resulted in two slightly older runners to arrive in the first spots, Roger Hendrickx (KOL-H50) and Bart Mellebeek (hamok-H40). Hendrickx was the first runner of the team of favourites with Pieter Hendrickx and second runner Leon Ceunen, but sadly for the spectators, he mispunched a control. The other KOL team, with Yannick Michiels starting, suffered the same fate. This meant two important teams out of the race, already after the first runner.
Now we had Georges Deferme of hamok in the virtual lead, but success managed to evade him this year as he did not run a very good race and was passed by both Michel Wens of TROL and Elisabeth Henkes of Omega, subject of one of the most controversial transfers last year, but it seems to pay off. In fact, Deferme arrived only in fifth position as he was also passed by Kim Geypen of Omega and Jos Thijs of hamok.
Now we had Jeremy Genar (photo) as the leading runner, with quite a large gap to François Jacobs. Genar is currently in a very good shape, with the important championships coming next weeks and JEC in Millau (FR) not that far off, it was no surprise that he managed to widen the gap. It was more surprising though that at the spectator control, after 8 minutes wait, it was not the Omega team arriving first, but the already disqualified team of KOL with Pieter Hendrickx, followed shortly by hamok with Jeroen van der Kleij.
Genar was able to hold the lead and took the prestigious trophy with him to his training domain in Tielen. The second runner was the disqualified Pieter Hendrickx, but in the end it was not hamok that took the second spot, but Omega, with hamok-runner van der Kleij having misread a control number and searching for another control for more than two minutes before realizing that he had already been at the control (this happened to more runners today). It is not uncommon to have problems like that in a relay, where it's hard to keep your visible map area small enough while still being able to find and read your control description in a fast enough time. Printing the control numbers after the actual control would be better perhaps, like 12-103 for example.
There was also a family competition, all three spots there were taken by Omega teams, with the Leeuws/Wouters family in first position, van de Moortel second and Verdeyen third. Overall, it was another fine event, but it might be worth visiting the hamok technical area for a quick reintroduction to orienteering after all these mistakes today.