Hamptworth: dark and light

Sarum Saunter Finish, Hamptworth

There was a full weekend of orienteering on offer on the weekend just passed. In the end, we decided not to make it three trips to the Forest and spent Saturday enjoying the sunshine doing a bit of work in the garden. I then headed down to the Hamptworth Estate on Saturday evening for the British Night Champs. I have a bit of a love-hate relationship with night orienteering. You can’t beat the pleasure of running through the pitch black and seeing a control looming out of the darkness. Sadly, I tend to spend rather too much time running around in circles and this was not to be an exception.

As RouteGadget shows, I made two major blunders. Everything started well enough but at the fifth control I was rather thrown by the presence of contours in the New Forest and turned up-hill just 10 metres short of the control. Actually, I think I was thrown because my attack point was supposed to be a ditch junction whereas, in the daylight, it was evident that the ditch on the map actually turns in to a veg boundary. I had more trouble with vegetation boundaries at 12 where it looks like I had the rhododendrum boundary out by 90 degrees.

Each of those mistakes cost me five minutes. On top of that, in the tussocks and brashings I was generally too cautious and when I finished I was third out of three and a good 25 minutes down on the leader. As it transpired, the remaining three runners in my class managed to take even longer so I can still claim a bronze medal!

On Sunday, the sun was shining again and we all went along for a fantastic day back at Hamptworth. I took the children round the string course whilst Christine ran. Duncan walked the whole way and both were pleased to see sweets at the finish rather than the usual SOC raisins! We then sat in the sun next to a large puddle adjacent to the finish waiting for Christine to return.

I found the area much more enjoyable in the daylight when it was possible to make use of more distant objects in the vague terrain. Two mistakes again on RouteGadget. The first at 8 where, in the presence of Tim Britton, I failed to realise that I had drifted to the north. Then another two minutes en-route to 12 where I failed to negotiate the rhodies successfully. I was six minutes down on Jack Benham so my running speed was definitely up on the previous night. I can’t quite work out where I’ll end up in the SCOA Champs as a result – probably second or third.

I got back to discover that Christine (with a little help from the sweets) had persuaded Emma to go round the string course twice more (on her own this time) and Duncan had even walked round again. All in all, a fun weekend of orienteering although given my aching legs today, not one to be repeated too frequently!

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