Hope you all had a lovely Christmas. One of the best ways to spend Boxing day is to meet up with our orienteering family at WIM’s annual Boxing Day Canter. Hard to believe this was their 51st Canter.
There are various ways to tackle the BDC. Essentially you have 60 mins to visit 25 controls, each worth 10 points. It is a real challenge to visit all of them (and nobody did this year), so you have to decide whether you go for them all, and risk being late (10 mins penalty per part minute) or make sure you finish well within time and be happy with what you get.
The added complications are that there are 3 bonus controls, two roving around the wood, and one stationary, with an additional control you need to avoid (that chases you, wearing a scary mask – think Blair Witch Project):
Father Christmas (50 points), usually doesn’t wander far from start/finish area, and his “ho-ho-ho”ing can be heard within 50 metres. Usually wanders back to the finish before 60 minutes is up (because he is cold).
Fairies/Elves (50 points), could be anywhere, as they are a group of junior orienteers, there is no knowing where they will be at 59 minutes, so don’t risk finding them late on, this is a total bingo control
Christmas tree (50 points), somewhere in a large plantation woodland there is one tree with tinsel. Sounds impossible to find, but a small gaggle of excitable children giving out sweeties tends to advertise its location
Grinch (-20 points) evil looking Scrooge-esque fictional character from Dr Seuss, immortalised by a lime green costume pretending to be a friendly Santa. Main role is to run around the forest, scattering orienteers who are so desperate to not lose their hard earned bounty (points). This year the Grinch was Lyra, able to catch almost every orienteer in the forest on a short distance sprint.
Here follows a report from the Grinch and three eye-witness reports, with stories of endeavour, peril, injury and heartache, not to mention betrayal:
Report from Lyra (The Grinch)
To say that I was excited to be the Grinch would be an understatement. Having searched through the WIM website the night before for previous photos of the Grinch and seeing the terrifying face that I would wear the next day, I was even more excited. Now it would be a lie to say I didn’t have certain people picked out that I had made my job to get and deduct points. My plan was this: hide near easily accessible controls in the southern part of the map for the first half, using the trees and the bracken to disguise my bright green costume. However this didn’t go according to plan, a few runners commented they could see my green trousers and ran quickly away. I enjoyed chasing after Roger through the terrain. I managed to get quite a few people at control 141 but had to lose some to help a man find his glasses which I had accidentally knocked off as he hurried away. Even my Dad pretended I had got him, but don’t worry I got him later! The highlight of the day was when I turned around at one of the path junctions and saw someone hiding behind a tree, I believe it was a SN who swiftly left, but I made a mental note to find them later! As I headed back to the finish I picked up some more runners (sorry Ian that I accidentally got you twice) and positioned myself ready for some of the people I was desperate to get, I narrowly missed James but managed to get Sarah Rollins (SN). I was pretty tired by the end and thoroughly enjoyed hiding and sprinting after people. Thanks to Karen French who let me be the Grinch when I asked her in November.
Report from Esk (a concerned junior)
Despite my sister being the Grinch, and despite the fact that she had promised not to get me, I was still terrified of her – her mask was particularly haunting. Like most of the orienteers who ran the race, my main goal was to avoid her at all costs, so when I had collected bonus points from the Christmas Tree and had collected a further 10, it was my intention to then turn off the main path to collect 141, however the Grinch foiled my plans. As I turned off the track I saw an unfortunate victim being hassled by an alleged M60 wearing luminous green trousers, a Santa outfit and a green face. Like my fellow runners who had the same idea as me, I turned hastily around and hurried out of sight of the menace, as others confirmed my belief by shouting “The Grinch! The Grinch!”. Later on in the course, I spotted the fairies and the elf holding a horrid mask and green gloves, and asked them which direction the beast had taken. Fortunately, she had gone the opposite way I was going, as she was opting to the right where I had fled after I first saw her. By the finish, I saw her again as I was chasing after Father Christmas. Thankfully, I evaded her once more and dibbed the Finish with relief. Overall, it was a lovely event, the atmosphere was great and I actually enjoyed the danger and peril of the Grinch stalking the forests that I was running through. You did a good job, Lyra!
Report from Jolyon (a post-viral, but hopeful veteran)
I woke up feeling pretty grotty, either man flu or the after effects of Prosecco, I couldn’t be sure. I was very tempted to stay in bed, but given there were so many people I wanted to wish Merry Christmas to, and the invitation from the Frenches for post run soup and mince pies, I dragged myself out. Having only just recovered from a tropical virus, I wasn’t hopeful that I would get very far, so decided to get a few controls then head back after 50 minutes. I had agreed with Lyra that under no circumstances was she to a) scare any children, b) penalise any older orienteers, for who 20 points could be ten minutes of wasted walking, c) scare her sister or d) get me [funder of orienteering, holiday organiser, provider of food and accommodation]. So, at the start I was feeling relaxed. Esk informed me that the Grinch had gone right, so I thought, lets go that way, nothing to fear. James, Roger and Harry BH went the same way, and I managed to keep them in sight for the first 3 or 4 controls, but felt very tired, and also managed to wipe out on a low root heading to control 147. Covered in mud, I trotted on. Approaching 141 a chap said “Your daughter is down there….”, then I saw a giggling Sarah Rollins (usually very focussed) as she had successfully evaded the Grinch. To my astonishment, the Grinch ran at me, but a last minute swerve, I managed to avoid getting dibbed, listening to my non-beeping SIAC with delight. Shortly after I found the Tree, having already seen Santa. Going well, so far…. I decided to go for it but realised that I hadn’t started my watch, so was clueless how long was left. 7 controls later and I was picking up points, still hopeful I could get them all and find the Fairies. Then I saw Julie, “ugggh, just been grinched” and there was Lyra. I was somewhat more tired than on my previous encounter, and feeling guilty for evading her (and partly paternally concerned that she would get the sack for being an ineffective grinch) I took the penalty. Then it suddenly dawned on me that the last 10 minutes of running down to 146 and 138 had been a TOTAL WASTE OF TIME. Spirits dropped. I lumbered through the next four controls, sinking in deep water. I saw Mel Slade who told me only 19 minutes to go (at control 136, in the north), and I realised that I didn’t have the energy to get back in time. I then ran the best part of 3km getting only 2 controls, fighting through the “white runnable forest” and still not finding the fairies. Arrived exhausted at finish, 5 minutes late with no extra bonus (minus 70, and no bonus 50, having got 19 controls). Lets just say I was last in the family. I had intended to leave Lyra in the woods, but somehow she made it back in the van….
Report (via me) from Rebecca
I was going to spend the day holding coats and chatting to Sally BH, but decided that as we had paid, I’d go out anyway. Didn’t venture far, but got 10 controls within 20 minutes. Then, owwww, twisted ankle (again), just as the Grinch (daughter) turned up who took sympathy and avoided grinching me. From there on I hobbled back to the finish, via a few more controls, and just happened upon all three bonus controls. Finally met up with Sally and Andrew near control 133 (who were out for a walk), so walked back gingerly with them, chatting. Stood by the finish waiting for the family, then realised “ooo, I had better dib the finish”. Was a bit surprised to see that I had come high up (top 30) and was 2nd best WSX. [Ed: spent the rest of the day gloating whenever Jolyon was near].
Moral of the story is: Fortune favours those that don’t take it too seriously and have friends in high places
Well done to James for winning the Canter (even though I saw him lost at one point). Also great to Emma C (CUOC) back in WSX land and Martin’s son Robbie, who enjoyed the day and will hopefully be back for more.
Gavin tells me that James is the 5th WSX to take the BDC title, having been 2nd, 3rd and 3rd in previous years. Previous winners were Dale in 2010, John Hartley in 2007, John Cook in 1997 and a certain Gavin Clegg in 1991, 1992 and 1999.