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At Pelsall Common and at Warwick University, two similar occurrences…

Arriving at Pelsall Common by car, Catherine shouted “There’s David!” (David Williams) as we drove past a control situated by the road. A few minutes later we parked, got changed and made the long walk to the Start. On the way, who ran across our path but… David. He kindly stopped to shake Kobe’s hand – he’s one of Catherine’s friends, and we’d brought him along for his first go at orienteering.

Now, checking the map and splits I can see that David was on his way to controls 15 and 22 when we saw him, and it was 15 minutes between sightings. Hence 15 minutes equals one David (1 Dd).

At Warwick University on Wednesday night, I’d just run back onto the map* when Yvonne Feasey jumped out of her car to ask the way to Registration. According to my splits I’d been going for about 37 minutes at that point. After 62 minutes I saw her again, parked and paid and out on her course. So 25 minutes equals one Yvonne (1 Yn).

Now scientists are at work to find out why 5 Dd = 3 Yn.



* This was an excellent map-memory event, with 13 legs on a part of campus that wasn’t on the map. I made an error on the first map-memory leg, but learnt from that and did well on the rest of that section. After that, the section around the north west part of the campus was a bit of a slog, but I suppose it did make you think about route choice. At the end there was a nasty trick: there were controls on either side of a high wall, and it was quite a long way round if you went to the wrong side first…


I got to last Sunday’s West Midlands League event before 10 but didn’t get to run till 12.20. Just saying; I don’t mind. Orienteering wouldn’t be as good as it is without a hefty dose of volunteering. But I was beginning to suffer slightly after 90 minutes standing by the B4096 and I was glad to get my coat, jumper and outer trousers off and get running. Cool rain is great conditions for running (as long as you can still see through your glasses!) and my body didn’t take too long to unseize itself.

I know the area pretty well so I avoided the kind of bad misses I suffered the weekend before and came a respectable 4th on Green out of 45. My time was a dead heat with John Pearson and, continuing last week’s run-in theme, it was my run-in that saved me. I was a bit sluggish through the last few controls, allowing John to overtake me, but I beat him by 8 seconds on the run-in and got back level. 🙂

And, yes, it was VERY muddy!

February 2013 2 004 February 2013 2 007 February 2013 2 013 February 2013 2 016

Although the nurse told me last week that my BMI was spot on, being the owner of the B in question I can say that my M is excessive. Evidence: my belly has started wobbling when I run. Let’s hope it’s just the combined effect of Xmas and snow getting in the way of my meagre level of physical activity.

It’s the Ultra-O event otherwise known as the Midlands Champs next week, and this week I’m making an attempt to put some practice miles in: Calke yesterday, Sutton on Wednesday and Baggeridge on Thursday.

Now, I’m going to whisper this so that I don’t offend anybody, but Calke was one of the worst O events I’ve ever been to. Nothing wrong with the club, the mighty DVO, or the event organisation, but Calke Park is an unpromising venue, and any enjoyment there might’ve been from the running was removed by the legs that went through knee-high brambles. Seems like the days are over when simple bramble-bashers would do: nowadays it would be best to head out to the start in a brambleproof suit.

Another problem was the blanket ban on climbing walls and fences. After control 1 (on Green) the fence was in quite a bad state of repair but I was a good boy and went round; I bet not everybody did. A clearer example is leg 9-10: it’s obvious from Winsplits that some runners cheated here. It’s hard to blame them.Image

Ahem. A short journey over to Nuneaton today for the Army event at Gamecock Barracks. The mix of housing, army buildings and open land means that some good courses can be planned there that keep you thinking. And the planner, John Middler, pulled off a bit of a coup by getting a load of us (including me!) to mispunch.

I ran the Green course (5.1 km). I came out from #16 along the path through the trees and checked the next control code as I ran along. I entered the next section of wood and saw my control ahead. I punched and ran off towards #18, shrugging off the strange feeling that the 6 should’ve been a 4, or was it vice versa?

It turned out that I hadn’t punched my control (code 106) at all – I’d punched control 134, on the other side of the thicket. Ian, who finished just after me but on the Blue course, made exactly the opposite mistake! And we were far from the only ones to fall into John’s trap.

So, what went wrong? Well, on both courses this control was towards the end of the run, so we were getting tired, both physically and mentally. Also, I think your concentration tends to drop anyway towards the end of a race: everything has been straightforward so far, we haven’t seen any controls anywhere that weren’t ours, we’ve been checking the codes but we didn’t really need to, and so on.

So, kudos to Mr Middler for one of the most brilliant traps that’s ever been sprung at an orienteering event!

Results (My “time” was 39:14 – sob)

(The post title is a quote from Ray Collins upon hearing that so many Harlequins and Droobers had fallen into the trap…)

Down to the edge of the Cotswolds for a joint NGOC/BAOC event. Whoa, it felt cold up there! I kept my thick t-shirt and my hoodie on, put on my hat and my gloves, and headed off to the start. Luckily I’d judged the level of attire just right and enjoyed my hour out on the hill.

I shocked myself by spiking the first control – usually I’m not even sure which way up to hold the map at the start – and was going quite well until I messed up control #6, which was hidden among the gorse bushes. It turned out that a lot of people had trouble with that control, and by the next control I was actually in the lead among the West Midlands contingent. It couldn’t last though, and in the end I was 4th out of 7, and 26th out of 54 overall.



p.s. Thanks Kerstin for the jelly babies!

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Another good run for me, and for Catherine, who thereby won the W10 class of this year’s West Midlands League. 🙂 Droobers were the overall League champions, of course.

Back to Hay Wood. Droobers use this wood a lot, so luckily it’s a good wood. It’s flat and relatively pathless, and good planning meant that I recognised virtually nothing from my previous visits here.

Last weekend I was thinking how well my run was going and then, of course, I immediately mucked up. That mistake last week helped me to have a very good run this week: even though it was going well I didn’t let my concentration slip and I kept my total errors down to under 5 minutes. I didn’t spike numbers  2, 7, 10, 11, 12 but I wasn’t far off any of them. (Notice that three of them are clearings – I’m not sure how well they are mapped.)

It definitely helped to get off to a good start: picking up my map I saw the first control was going to be a tricky start, and perhaps I was lucky to get such a good bearing and hit the southern ditch junction perfectly and thence home easily in on the holly bush. There were a couple of people nearby looking lost when I punched.

It was the West Midlands Championships. I should’ve run Blue but Green is faster and funner. And just because I ran well on the Green doesn’t mean I would’ve run well on the Blue! Also, since I was giving Catherine some coaching on the Yellow ahead of the Yvette Baker final in a couple of weeks’ time, it’s hard to fit that and a Blue run in.


.. or Yvette Baker Trophy Qualifier. This event decided which West Midlands clubs will be represnted at the National Junior Orienteering Team Championships in North Lincolnshire on 4 December. The scores were OD 898 HOC 879 WCH 870, so it was close but HOC squeezed through in 2nd place. 🙂

It was a lovely morning and a good event… Well done to the organisers, to all the juniors who took part, and especially to Catherine, who isn’t used to running on her own!

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If you’re a member of Harlequins Orienteering Club, you’ll know Baggeridge Country Park very well. We put on an event there on average a couple of times every year, and here I was again! (It must be in the top five areas by use over the last 10 years – Dave Nevell will know.)

We’ve been lucky with the weather this season, with lots of sunny Sundays, but my event at Sandwell Valley was an exception, so was this. The rain lashed down, so it was great that Kerstin had planned such a picturesque Orange course for us, bringing us back via the ponds and the steps. 🙂


This event was also the Black Country Championships. Like last time (also at Baggeridge!) Ian Hopkins was Black Country champion. Alex Mitchell was junior champion. In the Open category, Rachel Emmerson and John Embrey were the winners. If anyone has a photo of Ian or Rachel with his/her “trophy” please email me a copy!

I think this was the first time I’d been back since the 90’s. It’s a lovely beauty spot, especially on a sunny July morning, with great views across Warwickshire and Oxfordshire. While Uncle Ian did the Blue Catherine and I did two courses: first the Orange and the the Yellow. Unfortunately, due to the limitations of the area, the Yellow was very similar to the Orange, but in fact this was good from Catherine’s point of view, since she could do it with very little help from me.


Update: I was surprised to discover this was a ranking event. The HOC events at Sandwell Valley and Baggeridge should therefore’ve been ranking events too, I’d say, which would’ve encouraged better turnouts.




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