Forth Valley’s Grace gains good experience at Orienteering World Championships in Czech Republic
Forth Valley Orienteers' Grace Molloy took a massive step up in class as she raced with style in the forest disciplines at the 2021 World Orienteering Championships in the Czech Republic.
Following a stellar junior career, Grace was named in the GB team for every event at the championships.
However, with a world ranking of 260 going into the event, it was more about gaining experience than challenging for medals this time.
She had an early setback, as she missed out on a place in the Middle distance final, finishing 20th in qualifying.
With the top 15 athletes from each heat making it through, Grace was drawn in the tightest of the three heats, and knew that only a perfect run round the forest at Smržovka would suffice.
Despite a solid back half to the race, where she gained ground, a small error ultimately ruled her out of contention, as she finished in 37.34.
Undeterred, Grace gathered herself and led out the women's team for the forest relay two days later.
She was bold from the outset and took a direct route across a valley, a choice made by only three other teams at the head of the race, and followed this up with a good route choice heading for a northerly approach, rather than the southern route favoured by many of the other competitors.
Grace handed over in sixth position and team-mates Jo Shepherd and Megan Carter-Davies were able to maintain the pressure on the leaders, eventually finishing one place back in seventh.
The final race of the week was the Long distance over a 9.5km course featuring 650m of ascent and Grace was drawn into the first starting block.
Attacking the course from the off, she had a error-free run and was quickest of the first 30 starters before the big guns came out and pushed her down into a final placing of 25th.
"Notwithstanding the Middle, this was possibly my cleanest ever set of forest races," said Grace.
"The relay in particular was pretty solid, and I i was just lacking a bit of race practice".
The championships saw Grace break into the world's top 200 for the first time, as her ranking moved up to 191 for the forest disciplines, while her sprint ranking improved to 64th in the world.