On Sunday morning I travelled up to Sheffield for the British Orienteering Relay Championships. Harlequins had 13 teams, most of which, like mine, were in it for the fun. For, apart from participating, there’s the excitement of watching teams starting and finishing, and going through the spectator controls. (Cheekily, our club tent was set up right next to one of the spectator controls, so we had a very good view!)

It’s a good job my team wasn’t meant to be especially competitive because I didn’t do very well. Not quite as badly as back at JK ’08, but almost. The big mistake I made was at 7.15 in the morning, when I decided to wear my new contact lenses. I’m very short-sighted and though I could read the map when I was in the car, when I was in the wood it was a different story: I just couldn’t work the features out at all. If only I’d done what I’ve been meaning to do for a while, which is wear one of my wife’s lenses in one eye. She has a weaker prescription and might’ve been able to focus. As it was, at one point I had to resort to pushing one of my lenses behind my eyeball…

The worst two legs were the shortest two. With no dotted path line to go by, I set my compass and hoped for the best. Luckily, having missed #7, I eventually hit a control that I needed later in my course, so I was able to relocate. As far as #10 is concerned (almost 10 minutes to cover 80 metres) I can’t have missed the control by much, and I found at least 3 other controls that I didn’t need. In the daylight afterwards I could work out what features they must’ve been on, but in the half-light in the woods there was nothing but frustration.

Hey ho, 70 minutes in the forest was good value!