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Bought some new shoes and had an enjoyable run around Sherwood Forest last weekend. The event was a bit inconventional in that the map featured a lot of dead oak trees and several of them were used as control sites. I made three quite bad mistakes while dead-tree hunting and finished in an unimpressive time of  79:02 for my 7.5 km. Luckily I was still able to beat my old mucker Barry McGowan by 4 seconds by dint of taking a full 11 seconds out of him on the run-in. The fact that a lot of major events have a special prize for the fastest run-in (often won by HOC’s own Dan Hartmann), plus a couple of sad experiences when I’ve dropped a place because of dawdling at the end of my course, have recently focused my mind on picking my feet up on what is, after all, the easiest leg of any course.

And I had the advantage last week that I punched the last control at the same moment as an OD whippersnapper in whose wake I could race the last few yards.

Although we had identical results, Barry and me had very different races. I made bad mistakes at #3 and #6 – running past the control and then struggling to get back into the circle – leaving Barry 4 minutes ahead of me. Luckily for me he took 6 minutes more than me on the long leg (#12) – I took the safe option, going round to the east, through the Start – putting me back ahead, but then I made a 2-minute mistake at #14, evening us up again. I was going to play safe to #14, going round the paths, but I changed my mind and got confused in the mix of trees, open and grot around the control.


Old map

February 2013 190 February 2013 189 February 2013 188 February 2013 187 February 2013 186




What a glorious week. The sun shone (for a change) and I enjoyed my 5+ hours running (mostly) around Welsh hilltops. Thanks to Ian, Caroline and Louisa, Catherine had a good time too and ran every day.

Croeso website with results

Maps and routes

People’s photos: day 6   day 1   the area  



A week or two ago I signed up for this weekend’s 12 km race in the Forest of Dean. This is a race where I don’t have to run 6 km to get points for my club, and inspired by the long-O antics of Marian White I thought I’d go for the good-value option of entering the longest course possible. Big mistake?

My downfall started – literally – on Sunday at Bentley when I tripped and landed chin-first on a rubble-strewn path, injuring my hand and chest. Then last night I was bitten on the elbow by a dog while putting controls out for a race in Haden Hill Park. And now today I’ve twinged my left thigh playing basketball in totally inappropriate clothing…

On Sunday, Droobers are hosting a regional event at Bentley. I’m sure it’ll be a great event, but entering for it was a bit of a leap in the dark. (Sorry for picking on this event – the problem it illustrates is true for more or less any regional event you care to mention.)

To be fair, this was partly my fault. I noticed the event when I was on fabian4 and entered it there and then. There’s a box on fabian4 where you put your default course and in my case it’s Blue. I left it at like that and paid. Then I had a look at the flyer and realised – duh – this is a regional event, and I ought to have entered my age class. But should I enter 45 long or 45 short? Which one does Blue correspond to? And how long are the races anyway?

I emailed the organiser and now the info has been added to the website, a day after entries have closed. Notice that the age classes have been left off the final details, so they’ve had to add them on the webpage. But I still don’t know the answer to my first question. M45L is Brown and is 9.8 km, so that’s out. But how to choose between Blue at 6.9 km and M45S (Short Blue) at 5.4km? Blue sounds better but then I’ll be running out of category…

This nonsense of colourising regional events was caused by BOF. I do understand that a few orienteers want to only enter races by colour, but the confusion this has caused has resulted in a degrading of the regional event. A lot of orienteers are entering by colour when they really meant to enter by age class and they are missing out on competing with their peers, and their peers are missing out on competing with them. And some courses are artificially overfull or underused because if you’re going to enter by colour you’re more likely to enter Blue or Green than the mysterious Short Blue or Short Green.

So whose fault is this shambles? Partly BOF’s, partly fabian4’s, partly OD’s and partly mine. What can we do about it?

1. For Regional events, initial event info must show that this is an age class event, show what the correspondence is with colours for people who want to enter by colour, and give some idea of course lengths. (The traditional, simplest and best system is to list the courses by number, with the corresponding age classes and colour.)

2. For Regional events, fabian4 must have age classes as the default setting, although with a clearly indicated option to change to colours.

p.s. Checking the event info for Beechenhurst the following weekend, things aren’t much better. The final details say: 14. COURSES AND MAP INFO
N.B. Courses and Age equivalences:  This event will be using the age categories as outlined in BOF Guideline 3.3 NOT as stated in the flier (3.4). You are asked to check your age category and course choice and amend online if necessary before April 26th. And then the courses are listed only by colour!

Just a few weeks now to one of Harlequins’ big events this year. On Saturday 10 March there’s the first-ever Malvern urban event, and the day after it’s the Midlands Championships at Foxley & Garnstone, near Hereford. If you haven’t registered yet, why not do it now before you forget? 😉

The Championships area was used for the JK in 1994.

I spent a large part of Saturday afternoon and night watching Jukola 2011 – the women’s and men’s relays live from Finland on internet TV, so I was a bit sleepy yesterday for the event in the Wyre Forest. With my ankle still being bad, I opted to take Catherine round the Orange. She’d enjoyed it at Baggeridge, but this was a different kettle of fish. I enjoyed the course very much, the legs were quite technical and it felt like the Jukola in miniature 🙂 But Catherine got quite upset – a reminder that it’ll be a couple of years before she “enjoys” running through brashings, brambles and nettles – and I need to get her back on the paths before she goes off orienteering altogether!

Having said all that, the news that we’d won again cheered her up considerably at the end!


Among the highlights of my TV-viewing were Riina Kuuselo’s performance on the 3rd Venla leg (3rd fastest out of 1,014 runners), the last-minute win for Domnarvets, and the performances of Thierry Gueorgiou, Lauri Sild and Mats Haldin on the 3rd, 4th and 5th Jukola legs respectively. Tero was justifiably dubbed “king of the night” after his amazing run.

There were some great British performances too, from Pippa Archer, Helen Bridle and Douglas Tullie among others. The Scottish men came a creditable 51st out of almost 1,500 competing teams.

Venla replayhighlights, news report

Jukola replay: part 1, part 2, news report

Look what came in the post today 🙂

(I couldn’t go to the events because of my poorly ankle.)

I think this is the final SINS post 🙂

Organising a big event is a pretty thankless task – the only participants who’ll really appreciate your effort are the ones who’ve done a similar organising job elsewhere. And though people say how wonderful it was, nearly all the discussion is about the mistakes. That’s life. You get 2,990 things right, but the 10 things you get wrong stick out like a sore thumb.

I’m here to say it was a fantastic weekend but there are three things I think need looking at. One was specific to the event and the other two are more general. The specific matter was the Start. This is what the map issue looked like on day 3:

Is it any wonder that some people picked up the wrong map?

The general issues are more important. One is also about the Start, and it’s a topic that’s come up often enough before: where the White and Yellow courses should be. When there’s a high, remote Start, I really do think that the White and Yellow courses should have a low, near Start. Some events do do this, but I think it should become standard practice.

The final problem I want to raise is Entries. Once upon a time the courses were numbered and divided up between the age classes. Nowadays they’re coloured, which is leading more and more people to enter major events by colour. This is all very well if people are fully informed about what the correspondence is between the colours and the age classes, but often these days people just go to fabian4 (Other online entry services are available) and enter without checking the event information. Much more than in the past, people (including me) weren’t running the right course for their age class. Somehow fabian4 needs to be improved to inform entrants which age classes correspond to the colours shown on the online entry form.

So, what was good about SINS? Well, apart from the fact that Catherine and I both enjoyed our courses, it was brilliantly organised. The arrangement of campsite and assembly was excellent, and the evening centre was a triumph. I think next time the event areas will have to be more spread out, so there’ll be a bit more travelling, but it won’t matter if we can return each evening to such a good venue.

It was my 7-year-old daughter’s first camping/multi-day experience, and she loved it. Enough said.




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