My current orienteering obsession continues to career (that’s career the verb defined as to ‘move swiftly and in an uncontrolled way’ to which I would add ‘in the wrong direction’) around the Thames Valley area. It’s fun to be able to do something that Jane also enjoys albeit we do different courses.
So, following on from my unimpressive appearance at Brill, we attended the TVOC Wittenham Clumps Saturday Series event on 10th May. Despite the fact that the colour coding of events at different locations is supposed to reflect a similar challenge and completion time there does seem to be a lot of variation, I’ve been focusing on light green.
I rather surprised myself by completing the Wittenham Clumps light green in 42:38 coming 7th out of 18. There was only one control I really struggled with, 106, and those of us clomping about that area in the supposedly ‘runnable forest’ all seemed to agree a path had vanished somewhere in the undergrowth.
Pleased with myself I decided to show off and do a 2nd run (no extra charge but you have to fill in a new entry form etc). Setting off on the orange course my sneaky plan to catch up with Jane was thwarted when I spotted her heading for the finish just as I was leaving the start. Fortunately she’s got used to waiting for me and I managed to get round in 30:42, 3rd of 15 (though the rest were mostly kids). Orange also used 106 and I still struggled to find it as this time was coming from a different direction.
Hughenden and Downley
Sunday 8th June and we were off to Hughenden just north of High Wycombe, not a Saturday Series event so I was aware it might be a bit tougher what with not being allowed to see the map in advance etc. We volunteered ourselves for manning the road crossing for a couple of hours before our time slot!
My confidence from good runs at Wittenham was quickly dented as I carefully studied my compass at the start then ran off in the wrong direction, so 10 minutes wasted straight off. Control 3 was quite a way off and looked tricky so I was reasonably happy with my plan though it didn’t quite work and I found myself hunting for a non-existent pit at the junction of the wrong 2 paths near a road. 20 minutes for that one, control 4 was 25 minutes after I’d fought my way through woodland then wandered around on a wooded bank for a while. It was hot too and really muddy.
After another 20 minute job at number 7 I eventually finished in 1:48:29 despite there only being 9 controls. More than once I caught my tired self looking at the wrong red arrow on the compass – the one you rotate to north on the map rather than the one with the magnet that actually points north! This might have accounted for my wrong direction start amongst other confusions. I had though seen enough other lost, knackered, souls to realise that it wasn’t just me and the results gave me 10th out of 18 starters – 16 finishers. Jane took almost as long on the orange and we were both stuffed for the rest of the day.
Well I thought this one went alright last Saturday. I made very sure not to muddle my compass arrows and at each point took a moment to actually decide a strategy for the next control like you’re supposed to do. Sometimes following paths etc – sometimes assessing the terrain as runnable from the map and aligning then following the compass – sometimes a combination – that sort of thing.
The first 3 controls done in under 10 minutes with the bonus of a portaloo in the middle of the woods which I used as it’s not always suitable to pee with unexpected people crashing through the woods in all directions and the awareness that there is a Brownie pack on the course somewhere.
I managed to mess up number 4 as my clever plan to to follow one horsey ride till I found the southwards path leading to a second ride that the control was near fell victim to my holey memory. I forgot the second half of the plan and was to be found searching in the bushes by the side of the wrong ride. Still corrected myself and found it in 16 minutes so not too bad.
A different problem with number 11 as I got 2 similar track junctions confused and ended up looking at a road that shouldn’t have been there, 13 minutes that one took. I’d already worked out 3 other people also on light green as we’d met at various controls in different orders. They all beat me to the finish but only by minutes and I was pretty pleased with my efforts thinking my 65 minutes dead good enough to place higher than the 17th out of 22 (20 finishers) I actually managed. Oh well – I was good but the competition better
Jane had a bad day on the orange spending 35 minutes on one control as she failed to realise she had wandered into an unfenced ‘out of bounds’ area. They will forever more be the Blooming Woods for her!