This weekend was my third OMM partnering with Neil Broderick on the B course, with the Elan Valley as the setting for this attempt. We weren’t due to start until nearly midday on Saturday and, with Christine’s parents our base just over an hour away from the event, it was set to be a very civilised start on the Saturday morning. Unfortunately, Neil was suffering from a stomach bug and on Friday night we weren’t even sure we were going to start at all.
A wet Saturday dawned and Neil felt well enough for us to set off for the event centre in Builth Wells. As we were bussed north the rain gradually ceased and the clouds lifted. As we stood on the start line the sun was even shining although, as we crested the hill, we were hit by a strong wind. The navigation wasn’t at all challenging on the first day, with easy control sites and good visibility. With such a late start we also didn’t suffer too badly from the tussocks. In fact, the purple line on the map could have easily represented a linear marsh, flattened by the hordes of competitors that had passed before us. This meant that on, what was probably meant to be the long route choice leg, there was little reason not to go direct. The weather had taken a turn for the worse by this point and the wind was now driving rain at us.
The overnight campsite was nicely located although, arriving at about five o’clock as another rain shower passed through, there wasn’t much opportunity for socialising. During a trip out to use the toilets I discovered that, whereas the splits we were given had us just over an hour behind the leaders on our course, we now appeared to be just under an hour behind and consequently had a place right at the back of the chasing start. The wind kept up all night and I wasn’t disappointed not to have to spend longer awake under the flapping canvas of our tent than necessary.
Being in the chasing start also meant that I actually got to do some navigation on Sunday which certainly added to the interest. We overshot the first control by a couple of 100 metres but everything went pretty well otherwise. It also mean that we had to make our own tracks through the tussocks although these were less pronounced than those on Saturday. The wind was still pretty strong and we were grateful to turn out of it after the first few controls. Although not completely dry, there was also much less rain than the previous day. Neil still wasn’t 100% but we were running the downhills and the smoother flat sections. I can’t say we were particularly impressed by control 9 though which involved a steep drop of over 100 metres only to have to climb straight back up again.
We were somewhat surprised to discover that we were in 14th place when we got back to Builth Wells and downloaded but I suspect that, as on the Saturday, the later runners had a better time of it, and in the final results we have dropped to 24th place. Still, pretty good given that two days earlier we weren’t even sure that we were going to start!