Archive for the ‘Orienteering’ Category

OMM De-Lite

Monday, May 7th, 2018

We enjoyed last year’s OMM Lite sufficiently that we signed up again this year. The venue had shifted to the Forest of Dean, another area we know reasonably well through orienteering and its proximity to Christine’s parents. In a repeat of my marathon weekend, it was set to be a scorcher and we were grateful that the organisers took the decision to drop waterproofs from the kit to be carried!

This time we had a much better idea about the distance that we were likely to have to cover to fill seven hours on Saturday although that didn’t stop us re-planning continuously. Things didn’t start well with a run along the road, a detour down a dead-end, followed by hacking through the forest past the wild boar. That, at least, taught us the extent to which we should trust all the tracks on the map!

We headed out of the forest to pick up a 50-pointer out at Symonds Yat but decided not to go further afield and, after picking up a few more checkpoints, headed back into the forest again. At that point, there wasn’t much for it but to sweep around the bottom of the map and back up the eastern edge. Christine was definitely fading towards the end and wasn’t best pleased with my suggestion to squeeze in one extra checkpoint before the finish. The unexpected lap of the camping field meant that we were docked one point for being 19 seconds late back. Much to our surprise, this still left us 49 points clear of the next pair! (My watch began to die so our efforts are spread across part 1 and part 2 on Strava.)

Christine switched to trainers for the Sunday in an attempt to pacify a rather angry looking blister on her feet but, otherwise, we didn’t feel too bad setting out for a further five hours. The map was centred on the forest this time which provided some much-needed shade. We didn’t have to think a great deal initially with the first three checkpoints being ones we had visited on Saturday. Christine accepted that we needed to cross the valley to the controls on the eastern edge of the map but the climb back out of Soudley was pretty unpleasant, particularly as the path we were on disappeared amongst fallen trees.

We made it back in time and, although we didn’t clock the biggest total for the day (guest ultra-runner Markus Scotney sped past us at the end having knocked off another 100 points), it was enough to secure a victory. Winning prizes for the first mixed pair, as well as first place, certainly meant we had a tidy haul of OMM vouchers to show for our efforts! The 23 miles covered on Sunday brought the total for the weekend to over 55 miles, very similar to last year and only with around 200m less climb.

The podium photo also shows off our cheer squad with all but two of the children in the front row being relatives (the other two were a reunion from last year’s event). Sarah and Sue, in particular, had done a wonderful job of keeping them all amused whilst we were out running. Our two had done the orienteering on Sunday. Duncan secured a second on M10 whilst Emma had an absolute epic, spending nearly an hour and a half on her orange course! To round off an excellent weekend, they also ran in a sweltering children’s race at Devauden on Bank Holiday Monday.

West Midlands JK

Wednesday, April 18th, 2018

As is often the case, our Easter involved orienteering at the JK but, for the first time, both the children were entered. We headed up on Friday to the Sprint event at MOD Stafford. As with all days, the children had timed starts and we had open starts which were very convenient. Duncan flew round his course but Emma disappeared. I guess we’d failed to explain to her that she needed to make sure that she was on the right side of a feature: something that you don’t experience on your average orange course. She’d wandered off for 20 minutes before returning to the other side of the wall!

We were staying in Lichfield which seems like a pleasant enough town: the cathedral is certainly impressive and there was a good selection of places to eat out even taking into account the children’s (ok, Emma’s) preferences. I had a particularly bad run at the medium event: I just shouldn’t be allowed out with contours. The rest of the family did better with Emma first on W12B, Duncan second on M10B and Christine fifth. We decamped to the nearby Cannock Chase Go Ape afterwards where the children enjoyed racing around with their second cousins.

It was always a bad sign when cars were being towed into the car park field on Sunday. The course was no less muddy but at least it had some longer legs and I scraped a top ten. The children repeated their positions from Saturday and Christine moved up to fourth. These were also their overall positions. We stayed around for the prize giving but it turned out there were no prizes for B-courses: so much for encouraging juniors! At least it meant we could take a more direct line to escape the now largely empty car park field unaided.

The relays were back at Beaudesert only now with the addition of an overnight dusting of snow. Thankfully the car park field had been abandoned but the assembly area was a complete mud bath. Despite running alone, I must have still visited every other gaffle on my course (and wandered into an out-of-bounds marsh by mistake!) Emma was running but not Duncan. She went out in the mini-mass start which meant that Christine was back in time to shadow her round. Just as well given that the course took in tracks that had only been created by the previous day’s event!

First orienteering of 2018

Monday, January 8th, 2018

Some years seem to go by where we don’t make it to a single SCOA league event; this year there’s only been one Sunday so far and we already have one in the bag! As we pulled up at a sunny but windswept Cadnam’s Pool we certainly weren’t the only ones (there were over 90 entrants on the blue course).

Emma and Duncan zipped round the yellow and white courses respectively. (Kieran had been quite generous with the smiley faces on their courses given the difficulty of following paths buried in mountains of damp leaves.) Christine ran the blue and I tackled the brown (which if nothing else meant no queueing at the start). My legs were certainly tired from the previous day’s exertions but I suspect at least half of my eleven-minute deficit behind the winner was simply due to lack of concentration. I regularly run through the area (sometimes at night) without a map but I can’t claim that helped one iota. It was just nice being out in a lovely runnable bit of the forest though.

Orfu Orienteering

Friday, August 25th, 2017

The next leg of our Hungarian adventure took us to Orf?, a small tourist village, half an hour north of the city of Pécs (where we stopped briefly to stock up at Tescos!). Orf? sits beside a string of lakes on the edge of the Mecsek hills (the highest mountain in Hungary is only just over 1000m). We checked in to our shady apartment and then walked down to the village hall where registration for the Hungaria Cup was taking place. There was a bit of queue for the ‘foreign clubs’ and we didn’t help! We had underpaid and, to make the sums harder, I’d paid in Hungarian Forints but the transfer had arrived in Euros, and I wanted to pay the balance in Forints!

The next day, we walked to the assembly area for the orienteering and then promptly had to retrace half our steps to the start which was high on the hill above the apartment. Thankfully they had decided to let the open courses start whenever they liked so Emma and Duncan went to the start with Christine and set off together. They were on the taped course, a great idea which allowed them to either follow the tape the whole way (as they did on Day 1) or make the course significantly shorter by following the obvious shortcuts on the map (as they did on subsequent days). I struggled on the steep climbs in the heat but, at least travelling slowly, I didn’t waste much time on navigational areas. Afterwards, we cooled off in the aqua park by the lake which was free to competitors.

Day 2 had the same assembly area but we drove this time as, with starts after twelve, we didn’t want to walk there in the midday sun. Thankfully my course was 2km shorter but I still didn’t manage to break 10 min/k. Emma failed to punch one of the controls despite having been with Duncan but the organisers were sympathetic and reinstated her. After the day had cooled a little, we climbed up the lookout for views over the surrounding hills.

The assembly area moved for Day 3 and the courses got shorter again for a blast around an area filled with massive sink holes. The terrain obviously suited Christine as she won her course bringing her up into third place overall. We didn’t discover this until after the prizegiving though (which took place every night at the event campsite followed by a disco until midnight which we could hear across the valley from our apartment). We headed into Pécs to take in the Turkish architecture and an ice cream. With temperatures still in the high 30s we didn’t last long though.

The assembly moved again for the last two days to the neighbouring village of Abaliget. Christine was off early and took the children with her. She improved her position again, finishing second. The children made it back before her though and even had an interview with the commentator. I had a late start and, after some early blunders, was caught four minutes by the leader of my course. I was pleased to be able to hang on to him for the middle section. We made a return trip to the aqua park afterwards.

The final day of the orienteering was a chasing start, or at least it was for Christine. My cumulative time was more than 40 mins behind the leader which meant just starting off at minute intervals. We were back with the sink holes again and I had a pretty clean run, finishing second on the day which brought me up to seventh overall. Christine was also second which meant she retained her third place overall and secured a place on the podium. Thankfully she didn’t win the 12 (screw fit) light bulbs the men got but we did have a bottle of wine and 3 litres of apple juice to drink before leaving the country! We took the cave tour afterwards which was an interesting experience given it was all in Hungarian. If nothing else, it was nice and cool.

After one last night in the apartment, it was time to say goodbye to Orf? and head north for the final chapter of our holiday…

For those who are particularly interested, these are my routes from the five days (although my GPS failed to get a lock at the start of Day 1).

Lite Weekend of Running

Tuesday, May 2nd, 2017

 We had a fun Bank Holiday weekend in South Wales competing in the OMM Lite. Christine and I were entered on the Long Score with her Mum having offered to mind the children at the event centre in Cwm-du, nestled in the Black Mountains. The Lite is significant as the event is quite different from the OMM itself. Firstly, as with the Capricorn, you return to the event centre on Saturday so there is no need to carry camping equipment or food. Secondly, the weather at this time of year was considerably better than your average OMM. Lastly, the event was restricted to using rights of way only. This latter point makes a major difference: the navigation was simple, the course was much more runnable, and lastly, it meant that the route choice options were much more limited.

In the seven hours on Saturday, we ended up running 53km – considerably more than either of us had been expecting. This included an ascent of Waun Fach. Unfortunately, with Pen Cerig-calch effectively out-of-bounds it also meant that, with two hours to go, there was nothing for it but a long run back round the lanes and connecting footpaths, picking up a few checkpoints on the way. We finished the first day in second place. The winners were miles ahead of us (rumour has it that they ran a further 10km) but there was another mixed pair just behind us who we knew had been running faster than us.

The map had all of the available checkpoints for the weekend marked on it and, although it was only at the start of each day that you discovered the controls that were open and how much they were worth, there was still plenty of opportunity for route planning on Saturday night. In the end, we only made one small tweak to the route I had chosen, taking in Mynydd Troed at the beginning and returning to Mynydd Llangorse, where Christine’s Dad was stationed, towards the finish. With blisters from her new Inov-8s, Christine chose to wear road shoes on Sunday and wasn’t significantly disadvantaged. In contrast, my new Inov-8 Talon 212s didn’t give me any trouble despite only having worn them for half an hour before the event.

Rather embarrassingly, our attempt to avoid the Brecons over Easter backfired completely as there was a control within 50 metres of where we had parked the car at Llangorse Lake! It didn’t give us any advantage though with no option for canoeing across the lake! Christine’s knee started to give her some trouble with 1.5 of the 5 hours still to go but she soldiered on and, as we had time, was even persuaded to take in an extra control at the end. This brought our distance for the second day to nearly 35km, gave us a win for day 2 and confirmed our place as second overall and first mixed-pair.

Overall, a fun weekend although, as I say, quite different from the OMM. It was certainly family friendly with the children enjoying the organised walks and the mountain bike skills course laid on at the event centre. The Lite format has another couple of events in the south with the Chilterns and Surrey Hills but, even with the requirement to stick to the paths, I don’t think they can compete with being out on the open fells.

 

JK 2017

Monday, April 17th, 2017

We spent most of the Easter weekend south of London orienteering at the JK. We didn’t go to the sprint on Friday (quite frankly, it didn’t seem worth the high entry fee) so our first event was the medium race on Saturday on Ambersham Common. Christine went out first and had a respectable run finishing third on W40. I amused the children with the string course before we walked Emma to the start for her first W10B course. Unfortunately she took a wrong turn and missed out a control, something that Duncan didn’t repeat when he then ran the white course with Christine in tow (it was the same course as Emma’s). I had a scrappy start to my run, wasting a good couple of minutes on #7. Roger Goddard gave me a tow for a while until Geoff Ellis took him away. 12th place was set to become a recurring theme for the weekend.

Part of the draw for the weekend was a chance to catch up with friends over from the Czech Republic and we had a nice meal on the Saturday night. Sunday was the classic distance race and I had a long trek over to my start in St Leonard’s Forest. No major blunders this time but I don’t have the speed in the rough terrain as the course wound its way back on to the Holmbush map and I finished… 11th but still 12th over the two days! Emma took another wrong turn on her course but recovered successfully this time. She was still beaten by Duncan though who went out on his first course unaccompanied. Christine had another successful day in the forest and we stayed to watch her collect her 3rd prize.

There was just a string course for the children on Monday and Christine and I made up either end of a Men’s Short team. I was off first and was pleased to discover there were only seven finishers in front of me with second place under 90 seconds ahead. Dan put in a sterling effort for his first relay, holding on to 8th place. After Christine’s run we finished a respectable… 12th.

It was a fun weekend of orienteering and, probably most importantly, the children seemed to have enjoyed themselves and are looking forward to our summer orienteering holiday.

Ocknell Orienteering

Monday, October 10th, 2016

Saturday saw our second orienteering outing of the season, SOC’s event at Ocknell. We were running the children’s activity which, as it involved finding a randomly scattered selection of controls, didn’t involve too much in the preparation but seemed to be enjoyed by the kids nevertheless. My apologies go to the little girl who turned up at the end when we’d run out of prizes!

Pete Davis had put on an excellent set of courses – it’s just a shame there weren’t more people there to enjoy them. I ran the brown and, despite knowing the area well, still made a few errors of judgement. As RouteGadget shows, it took me a couple of controls to realise that straight was almost always best and, as 13 and 14 show, you have to be careful in amongst the gorse bushes around the old runway. Although the November Classic is on an adjacent area, sadly I don’t think these lessons will really help there!

Start of the season

Sunday, September 18th, 2016

Emma and Duncan at the finishThe orienteering season got under way for us yesterday with a SOC event on an area called Salisbury Trench (east of Janesmoor Pond). Christine was saving herself for the Hursley 10K on Sunday so just took the children round the yellow course. (Actually, the children plus the pictured bear which Duncan has on loan from school as ‘Star of the Week’. It’s slightly concerning that he’s been awarded this in only the second week of the school year as normally it seems to go to those in need of some encouragement at school! Anyway, I digress…)

I went round the blue course which was quite fun, particularly given that the paths had been (deliberately) left off the map. The bracken needs a little longer to die off properly but the area was still pretty runnable although, as Pete Bray demonstrated later in the day, it was actually runnable at a lot faster pace than I was doing! The controls had been hung fairly high for which I was grateful as my compass-work was a little rusty. My ankle was also playing up a bit – a reminder not to get too carried away. The one event a month that SOC puts on is about the right frequency without having to stray further afield.