Catherine and I stayed at dad’s in Congleton last night and this morning we made our way to M6 J15 for this POTOC event. The rain was threatening but held off until we reached the finish. 🙂 Between J15 and the finish Catherine enjoyed all the bits: changing into her boots, paying, getting the control descriptions, the walk to the start (which was half the length of the white course), checking the dibber and the race itself.

I’ve taken Catherine before. Once on Cannock Chase when she was only one and she really enjoyed it, once at a chilly Shugborough when she hated it, and once at a sweaty Rosliston when she wanted me to carry her round. But she’s shown quite a turn of speed of late, so O might just be her bag! The attractive things about O for C seem to be: 1. There are other kids around; 2. Trying to be the first to spot the kite is a fun game; 3. Checking it’s the right number is fun too; 4. And so is dibbing. She’s even old enough already to understand about route choice. If I orient the map for her and ask her whether we need to go left or right, she can work out the answer from the way the purple line is going on the map.

Souvenir of Swynnerton

(By the way, if she’s four in May, should she be a W4?) She sounded proud when she told her mum on the phone that she’d “found all the numbers”. 🙂

So she’s building up enjoyment and confidence, but I know that one day that’s going to take a massive knock. And that’s when she starts going round without me. Just look at the times on the white and yellow courses in the results and you can see that a course that should take ten minutes can easily take forty. Most juniors seem to keep coming back despite such bad runs, but some must be put off. Training is an issue – I know that when I ran a school O club I did virtually no training, and some of the kids I took to events had very random methodology. It’s a vicious circle: insist on training and you can seem like a spoilsport, but miss out the training and they’ll get frustrated and give up anyway.

POTOC have made a couple of apologies:

“We apologise to the competitors who had to wait for maps at the start. The unexpectedly large turnout meant that a large number of maps had to be printed at the event (the number of competitors on the Green course was 50% higher than the number of maps printed before the event), and this took time.”
In these days of preprinted maps, perhaps clubs need some kind of expert system to help them work out how many people will come. I think this was bound to have been a well-attended event: it was the only one in the whole of the North West and West Midlands; it was a league event; it was very handy for the motorway; and the weather was more for than against too. Ollie O’Brian’s brilliant event map isn’t perfect but it’s a great tool for runners and for organisers.
“The Blue course competitors were discommoded by a mismatch between the control description sheets and the maps printed at the event. The final results for this course will be adjusted by changing the finish to be at the last ‘good’ control.”

This appears to be a typical problem when maps have to be printed during the event: the same thing happened at an event on the Chase a couple of years ago. The Red map I was given was not the lastest revision, and a young lady and I spent a good ten minutes wandering around a stagnant pool looking for an invisible kite… (Hmm, I wonder if I can get my result that day counted as a Red badge time??)