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A great weekend “racing” in Carlisle and Teviothead. Lost by 1 second to Pete Langmaid in the urban race and managed to take 30 minutes to get to one control in the hillside race, so not a sparkling success, but two great experiences, and who can say fairer than that?


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  



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

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!



Tired and ill. Wonder if it’s got anything to do with doing two events this weekend? Well, I’m sure I’d already caught the cold, but the tiredness is probably no coincidence. I was falling asleep in the car on the way home from Hawkbatch this afternoon. Luckily I wasn’t driving!

I’m glad I only did the Green –  the 4 km took me 45 minutes including a long walk uphill. I was right that last night’s exertions – 78 minutes on course 5 at the British Nights in Bentley Wood – had taken quite a bit out of me.

The Nights were excellent though. Bentley Woods is a great area and the course was well planned. Add to this the facts that the evening was unseasonably warm and that the battery of my head torch held out for the duration and it made it a very pleasant experience.

It was also a bit odd. I started 2 minutes ahead of my teammate Kerstin and I finished exactly two minutes ahead of her, meaning we had the same time: 78:45. The graph of our runs shows that this was despite us having very different races. In fact, thanks to a couple of early mistakes, I fell a few minutes behind Kerstin, only to bump into her at about halfway as she hunted in vain for the 8th control. Although I didn’t see her again, she must’ve overtaken me again when I overshot #12, but somehow I managed to claw the 2 minutes back by the end. 🙂

My next night orienteering will be on Saturday when I start putting the courses out for the event I’m planning!

Aston Park has recently been remapped as part of COBOC’s development programme, I’ve been in discussions about hosting the West Midlands Park Championships there on Sunday 17 July. In fact, I got permission from the city council yesterday. Today a certain video turns up and I find someone else has had their eye on that date…

Hopefully some of the participants in the Harvester won’t be too knackered to pop by on their way home to come and have a go, but that’s not really the problem. The problem is me! Now I won’t be able to enter the Harvester. 😦 I’m glad renewed effort is going in to making it a major event; it’ll never come anywhere close to the equivalent events in Scandinavia, but I would certainly encourage people to go – night relays are brilliant.

The route I took at Burbage is on RouteGadget, and here’s how I took 148 minutes to get round the Brown…

As I usually am, I was quite tentative into the first control, not yet having had a chance to relate the map to the terrain, and worried that an early mistake would depress my spirits for the rest of the race. I opted to run along the top of the crag to make sure I could spot the boulder easily from above. The long run through marsh and heather to #2 was tough but straightforward. The control site was in a reentrant beyond a valley and a spur, between two sets of crags on either side in the middle distance. For an off-path leg, #3 was also pretty straightforward; the marsh beyond the control was obvious. #4 was not a hard control (just a long run up a stony track) but #5 was the kind of control that trips me up in grotty Midlands woods; I did miss it by a few metres but the thicket wan’t too hard to spot.

The only reason control #6 is there is to encourage you to take the northern route to #7. I did realise this and thought about taking the southern, track, route, but decided that would be too much of a boring slog. So I opted for the interesting slog instead! This took me past the Ox Stones and on into an ocean of heather. I spiked the control perfectly in the end, but it took me 23 minutes to get there…

I found a nice path down the scarp, looking down at the wood that concealed #8. I nearly didn’t make it though: the marsh gobbled me up and it took me a while to retrieve my left leg and get out of it. And then I noticed I’d dropped my control descriptions and had to go back in! The wood was a bit of a nightmare. I couldn’t work out what the green splodges were, and found the first control by spotting the runners who were coming away from it. #9 was even worse. In the gloom and with my bad eyesight I couldn’t be sure how many ditches I had to cross and I didn’t see the ruined fence or the control. I came instead to a control on the women’s course, ran back, found the ruined fence and this time I worked out which was the right ditch. So that was 9 minutes to run 120 metres!

#10 was a horrendous climb but an easy control, with the catching feature of the open land. Then, once I’d got round Carl Wark, I could spot the location of #11 from half a kilometre away: the NW edge of the trees. 15 minutes through the heather (walking – the spring was gone from my step) and I discovered I was correct. #12 and #14 were my two best controls. #12 was one of those rare occasions where I could make sense of the land in relation to the map perfectly. #13 was the opposite: I took a bearing and it was all just a mess of crags and rocks and trees. I couldn’t make out the detail in the control circle at all, but at least I correctly guessed that I’d descended too far to the east and with the help of an impromptu search party I homed in on the target.

Fed up of the heather, I took a bit of a detour to #15, making the navigation into the control pretty easy. Going up to #16 the cramp finally set in, so I paused to eat my cheese and drink my Capri Sun. When I got to the path I kind of knew where I was but it took a bit of luck to find the control – the pits were invisible because of the bracken. #17 was the mountaineering control! The north face of the quarry didn’t prove too tough though and I was finally on the run-in. Unfortunately the cramp returned around #17, but the end (and the HOC tent) was in sight so I hobbled happily in to the finish, not too much the worse for wear. 110th!

Got changed – feet in surprisingly good nick – and got in the queue for a bacon and sausage bap. And I didn’t have to drive home – mercifully Andy Hemsted had offered to do the driving 🙂




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