We were up early this morning for the hour and forty minute drive South to the Swedish border and our first big orienteering event since arriving in Norway. Although, like most events here, there was “kids parking”, this was only for those over two so we were subject to split starts – Christine off first on her D21 course and me last off on H21. Christine came back from her run a little slower than expected which she put down to speed in the terrain. Her report of a hilly rock strewn area with the odd impassable cliff thrown in for good measure didn’t exactly fill me with joy!
The sun was out as I headed off to the start and, unlike the locals, I wore just an O-top. Even with a brief spell of sleet half way round I think that was still the right choice. I was at a start with the elite courses and, as I stood on the start line and the Halden club members were busy taking down the tapes behind me, I knew that I was in for a pretty lonely run. Things started well enough on the first leg. I was a bit off to one side but corrected quickly enough before reaching the control. That was probably a bad thing as it meant that I had set out on the next 100 metre leg without really thinking. About 8 minutes later I found myself relocating off the first control and even that was only by accident.
Having read out the details of Christine’s course to her as she prepared to start I had failed to realise that, whilst she had a 1:10,000 map, I was on a 1:15,000 map. This fact didn’t really become clear to me until about a third of the way round the course. I just thought I was going very slowly in the terrain. (This was probably also true – I can’t claim to have run much of the course.) Looking at Christine’s map afterwards, I have to say I find the rock and contour detail much clearer at the larger scale. Perhaps my eyes are getting old. I also suffered from the fact that, when the map and ground didn’t match, I tended to put it down to my inability to interpret the map whereas, on many occasions, it was simply because I was in the wrong place! I also find it very difficult to concentrate on keeping a good line when I have to think about where I’m putting my feet.
Oddly enough I didn’t see anyone else on my course. I did tell someone on the Elite course where they were near the beginning (I was at a control so actually knew for once!). Then I had the forest to myself for the first third of the course. For the middle third I was running against the tide but there were a few people still around until I hit the far end of the course. Heading back towards the finish I was just glad to overtake someone and know that I wasn’t going to be the last person left in the forest!
I’ll spare you the blow by blow account of all my mistakes. Suffice is to say that I took nearly two hours for the 8.1km course – nearly twice the winner’s time (although admittedly not last in the results). Perhaps by the time we leave I might just manage back under 10 minute kilometres. It’s good all over exercise though – with the rock climbing my upper body aches just as much as my legs this evening!