Report from one participant
I really enjoyed the orienteering I did last season so was keen to throw myself into it this season, but every event so far has clashed with an other significant annual event in my calendar, not anything I could escape from. So league event 5 was the first one I could make and I was pretty rusty, so I revised control symbols in the car with my friend Bill who I had brought along.
I have, however, been to Woodbury common twice before, which helped in knowing the terrain and therefore in planning how to get from control to control. I had also only learnt about the map colours on my previous (third ever) event (in my first two events I folded up the map to show the controls, thus hiding away useful information), so ensured that I paid attention to land that I could run straight across with a bearing, rather than following the paths to the nearest point. That was good in theory, but the vegetation wasn't very friendly - there was a lot of gorse, even when it was low down. I had my bramble bashers on which protected my calves, but when I had a shower later my upper thighs were speckled with small pink and purple dots which looks like a rash of angry freckles.
I found the controls fairly easy to find - possible because the terrain was quite open and the features sparse and obvious, but perhaps my skills are improving too. I had also got used to forward planning on the direction to move away from the next control to head on to the one after it, so my momentum was much more continuous, there was barely a pause for map consultation. So the navigation side was going great. The problem came with speed - I wasn't just slow, but sluggish. My running has tailed off since September when I completed a big event I'd trained for for a year, and I've put on a few pounds as a result, and on the uphills I wasn't the kind of tired that you can push through, I was the kind of tired where my legs are leaden and my body is dying. There's only one way to get in shape again though and that's getting out there, but it did mean I ended up right near the bottom of the results. I had chosen the blue course, which is good for training, but bad for placing, since it contains more running relative to navigating than the green courses do. It gives me something to improve upon though.
There were definitely laughs along the way Bill is new into running but already fit and lean and therefore quite speedy, and he took to the route planning side quite quickly, with an limited-knowledge explanation from me as we followed the course. One of the controls was at a junction of two rivers, and he bounded off a small bank down to it, without realising it was in a muddy bog, and lost one leg entirely, much to my amusement! He beat me in the results by 3 seconds, but I'll let him off since he had one leg entirely caked in mud....
Report provided by Sarah Clough -who will get a free run at a forthcoming event for providing this report. And a great photograph!
Click the image for a larger version.