A return to Shotover today for a go at TVOC’s orienteering event. Last week’s attempt at the light green course at Kings Wood near High Wycombe was pretty rubbish with me managing to take 1:44:47, a good 20 minutes longer than anyone else on the course, and still get disqualified for missing a point. The 10km Watlington XC Hill Race the day after had also been a bit pathetic with me managing to take 6 minutes longer than last year, good fun as ever though. Not to be put off I entered the slightly harder green for today – being as I know Shotover pretty well I expected to have a bit of an advantage.
Both shoulder and neck have decided to ache the last few days after a long period of hardly any pain so I ate a couple of ibuprofen and cycled to the BMW plant car park for the start minus Jane who had got up late and, doing the orange course, wasn’t tied to a start time. She did turn up and had a good go at the orange.
I got my emit and jogged to the start in Brasenose Meadow with another chap – we lost sight of the white & red tape on the way and for a moment I thought I might have overshot and got us lost before we’d even begun but fortunately not.
Confident I was setting off the right direction for a change I ran the tarmac track then stumbled through the undergrowth to find the first control good and quick and the 2nd was pretty easy too. I couldn’t picture the little pond number 3 was marked next to but found it soon enough, 4 was a bit trickier as the map has just 5 tree stumps marked on it whereas reality revealed more like 25!
Joined The Ridings then up a very muddy path and a hunt round in the wooded valley on my left to find 5 then up to the field at the top for 6, I walked most of the climb which is odd really as if I’d have been just out for a run I’d have run up. 7 was a bit of a distance away so I took a track I knew easy to follow then diverted down and followed a muddy stream to find it. Wet feet! 8 wasn’t hard and again I took a slightly longer but easier to follow track right across to the BMX bumps by Blenhiem Drive then descended to find 9 almost at the edge of Horspath village.
10 shouldn’t have been hard – I followed my nose to the bridleway downhill then a short way down a right turn almost double back and then it should be in the open land on the left. It wasn’t obvious though and I couldn’t quite get the map to match the reality. A bit uphill in the bracken a few more orienteers could be seen so I headed up to the bracken patch they were trampling and found a control in a dip – even as I bipped it I knew it wasn’t mine, I was after 113 and this was 137.
I decided to follow back 50m or so and relocate at the path junction. A young lady came and asked which I was looking for and, politeness pushing intent aside, I said 113 and she pointed me to the edge of a brambly clump I was heading for anyway – I’d have found it there without her well meant intervention but wish I’d had the speed of wits to say ‘don’t tell me where it is!’.
So karma got me back on number 11 when I mistook my path for a parallel one and then didn’t trust my map skills enough to follow the path to get me back on course as it went briefly up when I wanted down. A stop and reassess sent me back up and down it and a chap clambering out of what I though to be the stream gave me a clue as to where they’d hidden it.
Local knowledge really helped me out for the last 2 controls – I was able to picture just where they should be and enjoy a generally downhill then muddy run to the finish. So number 9 had taken me over 12 minutes, number 11 over nine minutes then less than 7 minutes to get 12, 13 and 500 metres to the finish
1:11:27 finishing 37th of 51 was good enough for me and a bit of a boost after last weekends flop!