Sunday 24th October 2004
Haugh Wood Regional Event
Strange Things Happen In The Forest
One highly respected and venerable orienteer arrived at the finish in a state of umbrage. At Control 130, three from home, she had encountered a sign apparently saying "This Way" (complete with arrow pointing in the direction of the next control). The venerable orienteer opined that she had been orienteering for enough years to decide for herself which direction was most appropriate
On collecting in the controls, it was established that the sign was, in fact, the planner's tape, purloined from Mr Comery's place of employment, which actually said "This Way Up". Next time we will use the tape that says "Fragile".
Control 69 was placed in a very deep depression in a remote part of forest in the pouring rain on Saturday. It was apparently vandalised before the start on Sunday; its absence being spotted by the Controller. A bra (floral design, 34C cup was left in its place). The control was replaced, seemingly without impacting any competitor.
Subsequently, however, Russell Flynn (in retrospect some 400m off course) stumbled across Control 69 (no longer, incidentally, in a depression), happily punched and proceeded on his way, but with the erroneous Control 69 as his "attack point" was unable to locate any further controls and was disqualified.
A grey-bearded orienteer, who habitually orienteers in a headband and carrying something akin to a hip flask in a back pocket, forcibly indicated that a "completely invalid route choice" offered by the planners had cost him six minutes when he had to turn back on encountering impenetrable undergrowth.
Examination of the splits showed that the competitor had taken only 6m 35s for the relevant leg for which the fastest time was over four and a half minutes.
An orienteer who wishes to remain nameless (but who is called Mike Abbott) took more than 46 minutes for his second leg (a predominantly path run).
Three competitors completed the entire course in less than 45 minutes.
I don't know what to say. Either Mick and I are setting courses that are too long, or you're all running too slowly.
We had abandoned our original courses on visiting the area for the first time and discovering the extent of the brambles and the felling that had taken place since the area was last mapped (too long ago). Our original intention had been to keep you off the paths. With, however, the limitations that the vegetation imposed, even after focusing on the better areas to the south of the road, we felt that it was vital that all legs should offer the option for some path running. Hopefully this did give you the choice of "challenging" runs through the wooded areas, or longer routes more dominated by path running. Ultimately virtually everybody that we spoke to (and we made a big effort to speak to as many of you as we could) seemed to have enjoyed the courses that we eventually set.
Thanks to all of you who came along. We were slightly disappointed by the numbers and would like to highlight the total absence of any takers for the new "Novice courses"; Courses 09 and 10. I wonder whether this experience will be repeated at other events, and if this initiative is misconceived?
Thanks to Brian and Bob for help in collecting the controls (in yet more rain); to Tony for his help in providing access to the estate to allow us to put out controls on Saturday; to Mike for taking care of the SI side of things; and, in particular, to John for his constructive controlling which resulted in far better courses than those that we initially drafted. Believe me, the brambles that you didn't see really were bad
Chris Earnshaw and Mick Comery
You can't believe how pleased I was at 7:15am in the dawn light that we had a window of good weather. It lasted just until the last runner came home!
Badge times show that some of the courses might have been a bit too long. However, with the relatively small number of competitors (the highest number in any class was 14), it was always likely that times would be above average. I do hope that the brambles didn't deter you too much from going off the paths. Under the canopy, some blocks of the forest were very runnable!
A few of you sought me out to mention control 52 - the first control on a number of courses. Yes, I know there was a felled tree on the approach to the clearing but I think that the small gully gave an ideal feature to attack from and, once there, the control was visible. The other point to make is that it was the first control - take extra care! Just for your info, the shortest time for that control was 1:43 and the longest 16:36.
The arrival of the novice classes into the BOF guidelines coincided with the new junior classes and I, for one, am not too sure as to the reason for them. Maybe the technical committee thought that they couldn't reduce the number of badge courses down to 12? Don't forget, a guideline is just that - a guideline. Provision of the courses is not obligatory and, at a small badge event, courses 11-14 designated as colour courses would probably suffice for the less experienced seniors.
Control 69 replaced with a bra - there's a lot more that could be said! All I will say is that I didn't see it when I found the control was missing, so it wasn't hung very high.
Thank you HOC for making controlling such a pleasure.
Organising an event 78 miles away is not a good idea.
HOC's system of team leaders however meant that I could leave much of the detailed work to Mike Farrington, Colin Spears, Robert Vickers and Geoff Sara.
I was grateful to my man on the spot, Tony Cockbain, who arranged for gates to be opened and locked and also stabled me on the Saturday night. I was fascinated by his extensive collection of historic 70's O-maps which he competed on as a young lad.
We were very lucky with the weather; putting out signs etc on the Saturday I got totally soaked. I did consider using a field near the start for the car parking but I think that it was a good idea we didn't use as the whole area apparently drains very poorly.
The turnout was disappointing. This was partly due to the event being considered a long way away by many, but also that problems with finalising whether it could be a badge event and with the map delayed the promotion, in particular missing an important August deadline for the BOF printed list and there not being too many events to advertise it at. The closing date was deferred but this was possibly not widely known, as was a late HOC policy to offer more extensive EOD.
If any of you tried to contact me on the quoted e-mail address, I regret that it no longer works.