WSX Chat 15th December

Posted on Tue, 15th December 2020 by
Club News, Event Reports

A few thoughts from our Vice Chair, Gavin:

I do hope you managed to get to Inside Park on Sunday. Wasn’t it just brilliant to be back in the forest? Ok it’s a bit scrubby in parts but I thought the runnability was better than I remember, perhaps I just steered clear of it this time. Wessex had some good results which you’ll find here. It was also the club championships and congratulations to the two winners [Esk and Gavin]. Last night’s Martin Down Night league race [no results yet] seemed like it was enjoyed in a masochistic way by those who attended, judging from the comments on the club WhatsApp and well done to Wimborne and Sarum for putting on both events.

Those of you that know me well will recognise my misquote of “It’s not the taking part but the winning that counts” 11 seconds off winning Blue on Sunday. Two mistakes: At control 10 I was put off by another competitor on my course, my own fault for not being more focused. Lost 2 mins. And then brain not functioning for last control to finish and lost 30 seconds. Orienteering is a race and the idea is to win. Whether that’s winning the whole course, winning your age category, beating a close rival or doing better than you expected. Some or perhaps most of us will look to find ways to give us that edge. I’ve been fortunate to win races by one second. Conversely I’ve lost races by one second. Some will train physically to get faster but unlike athletics, Orienteering has the added skill sets of the navigation and the map and the area that can be personally ‘improved’. I noticed James Crawford of GO won the Green at Inside Park. James is a good friend and James, Colin Dickson and myself were all born within two weeks of each other so have constantly battled against each other. James is currently the No1 ranked M65 in the country and is a two times World Masters Gold medallist. Both those Gold medals came in the sprint discipline. James’s preparation for a World Masters sprint race is fascinating: Once he knows the urban area to be used he will get hold of a base map, or something from Google Earth. Then using Google Earth and Street View will, using Ocad, draw his own orienteering map of the area. Doing this he gets super familiar with the area. Excessive? Or masterly preparation? Similarly under the “new normal” course descriptions are now available before the event. Most areas have been used for orienteering before. Inside Park has been used a few times and is available on Route Gadget. If you know how, you can print off a blank map. Or use your own map of when you ran there. From the details you can have a good stab at where the start and finish are going to be. Once you’ve established the finish you can work out the likely last control as you have the distance from the finish. Then, particularly if you’ve planned courses yourself, using your course descriptions you can plan a suitable course. Probably going in the opposite direction of last times courses. You might not get it all correct but it will give you a certain familiarity with the map and the area. Is this any different from training to improve your physical fitness? Is that Orienteering? Answers on a postcard. 

A final message from Jolyon:

You wait a month of lockdown for an orienteering event to come along and three come along at once. I spent Saturday with the south-west junior orienteering squad in Bramshaw woods, a very technical area of the New Forest, with unusually varied topography, the usual vague ancient woodland and a random network of leaf-covered paths and no recent inclosure tracks. The sun shone all day and the autumn colours were vivid. This is some of the hardest technical terrain in our area and a real challenge for the juniors. Sunday, as you have heard was wet, muddy and a collection of small secondary woodlands with, in places, dense undergrowth. Finally on Monday evening, I ventured through the rain to a soggy track on the edge of one of our finest and largest expanses of chalk grassland outside of Salisbury plain, Martin Down. In summer the song of the skylark fills the air, the dark green fritillary and blues flutter over the grasslands and rare orchids are in profusion. In December though, its dark, a bit damp, with lots of gorse and other spiky trip hazards and lots of skittish rabbits. I haven’t done night cross country orienteering for many years, and so it was a privilege to be hunting flags with my headtorch in open country, and in a year in which we have all been isolated from each other, great to share (at a distance) the camaraderie of this crazy event. They are such contrasting experiences, yet still essentially all orienteering. No two events or experiences are the same. A huge thanks to all the volunteers for all three opportunities to orienteer, we can never thank them enough. This is the final message of the year, so a Merry Christmas to you all and here’s to much more orienteering in 2021. Don’t forget the Maprun continues (Moors Valley over Christmas)….