Sunday, December 10, 2006

10th December – Gelt Woods

I was last in Gelt Woods around 1968, fishing with my Dad. The Who and The Stones were playing in Carlisle and United were top of the football league for a glorious couple of weeks. The whole town was buzzing and the bloke who operated the lift in Binns knew everything that was worth knowing. There must have been a cloudburst on the moors because a bore swept down the narrow Gelt gorge forcing us to scramble for safety.

Enough of reminiscing, the Gelt Woods map covers both sides of the steep sided gorge where there is a mixture of woodland and run-ability. The whole area is criss-crossed by path networks. I suppose it’s not the best area in Cumbria but I enjoyed the challenge of linking the complex paths, a skill that doesn’t come naturally to me. I think I ran fairly fast and didn’t make any mistakes apart from maybe some slightly less optimal route choices on a couple of legs.

I am feeling fit again but my ankles are still giving me some trouble so a couple of weeks lay-off will be good. Looking forward to some cycling.


Monday, December 04, 2006

3rd December – Hathersage & Burbage Moors

This was my first time orienteering at Burbage and it seemed slightly strange to be running in an area that I had previously only ever associated with climbing and bouldering. Despite passing through the Secret Garden (the section of birch wood between 3 and 4), and crossing between the two Burbage crags I didn’t recognise any of the climbing areas. I even thought that I was on top of Stanage at one point. Although I didn’t know where I was in the general area I was absolutely focused on the corridor behind the running line and this is one the aspects of orienteering that really inspires me. When you are running and navigating efficiently you utilise the minimum of information for maximum efficiency.

A good run at last. I seem to be running strongly again and I managed to win M45 by a clear margin. It’s a shame Mike Billinghurst and Tim Tett wern’t running. I’m not sure I could have beaten them but I think I could have got fairly close.

Results Page

Monday, November 27, 2006

26th November - Muncaster

Muncaster is a fairly small area but it’s quite interesting and I really enjoyed the course. The sausage butty in the Muncaster Castle CafĂ© was good too.

Technically I had a good run although I still felt that I was lacking in energy. Didn’t make any errors apart from some brief hesitation to check location just before running into a couple of controls.

Bilbo (Martin Bagness) beat me by a minute again. It seems I am destined never to orienteer faster than him but considering his impeccable O credentials I suppose that’s fair enough.

Results Page

Monday, November 20, 2006

20th November, Tim Watkins Blodslitet

This is one of my favourite events, so good that I wish I had timed my return to orienteering a couple of years sooner so I could have competed in some of the earlier years.

Areas like Torver Common (last year) and Bethecar Moor are perfect for long challenging races in fantastic areas. For me these two races epitomise everything that inspires me about moving efficiently in the terrain. Even in the Lakes I think they are very special places because they are big, have complex contour and rock detail and are relatively track-less, yet it’s easy to forget how accessible they are.

Putting the controls out must have been a mammoth task for the organisers. I didn’t envy the job of having to start collecting them late on a very cold Sunday afternoon as the wind and rain started advance from the west.

Personally I didn’t feel that I ran too well. I felt very tired early on and was more or less in survival mode (just finish), in the last third of the race. I did prepare well for the event so I had hoped to run faster but having started with a cold this morning makes sense. So much for staying off the ale again.

Well done SROC!

Results Page and some history of the event

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Got behind with my blog somewhat over the last couple of weeks. Here’s an update of events I have competed in since Buxton.

12th November, Arnside Knott

I work close to Arnside Knott and know it from lunchtime runs. It turned out to be an excellent orienteering area. I had a reasonably good run apart from making a couple of small errors on 4 and 5 – cost me about 2 mins. Peter Haines caught me up at 5 and we had a bit of a burn-up for the next few controls, which was great fun.

Results Page

5th November, November Classic – New Forest

This was a Vets Interland selection event which is why I made the effort to drive to Southampton and back. I thought I might have an outside chance of getting a good result. Although I initially ran well I was caught out early by a pit in a vague flat area of bracken and clearings. In fact I had problems with every pit feature on the whole course which put me well out of the running and 10 mins down on the winner Michael Billinghurst. I guess having run in the area previously might have helped but really, I think I need to put this down to not remembering one of my O mantras: ‘Adapt your technique according to the terrain’ – I didn’t

Results Page

29th Ocober, Cambus O’May

An area of mixed forest, with complex moraine detail, in a beautiful setting. The courses were short to allow for the rough going in some parts of the area. Boulders slowed progress significantly in parts. I didn’t have a bad run but was unlucky to miss a small re-entrant towards the end, which cost me 4 mins. A couple of other sloppy errors put me 6 mins down on Martin and 3 mins down on Donald.

Overall Results

A link to the map on Martin’s site

28th October, Scottish Night Championships – Potarch

I was pretty daunted by the prospect of running in an unfamiliar area at night so decided to go for a super safe and steady approach. It paid off because I won! Although there weren’t many people running M45 there were some good runners including Martin Dean. Talking to Martin the next day he said that his approach was to go fast because the course was so short but unfortunately he made some costly errors.

Overall Results

A link to the map on Martin’s site

Monday, October 23, 2006

The Twin Peaks Weekend

Two areas either side of the Goyt Valley near Buxton.

Day 1 was a mixture of pine and birch forest with some extremely un-run-able open moor. I really enjoyed the technical legs in the green. Recent trips to Scotland have definitely helped my technique and I’m starting to feel quite at home blindly bashing through green on a bearing to pickup a vegetation change or clearing. One technique that I found particularly useful on some of the more ‘hit and miss’ controls was to get as close to the control as possible on some kind of line feature such as a ride or fence, even if it means running off line, before heading into the green This minimises the distance you have to run on a bearing alone, and reduces the margin of error in your bearing once you reach the vicinity of the control.

I finished 4th in M45L which was a bit frustrating because I seemed to be competing well on the technical legs but lost time on the pure running sections where I normally do well. Unlike the previous weekend I didn’t feel that I was running strongly. So much for keeping off the beer!

Day 2 was on the opposite side of the valley being typical open Pennine moor contrasting to the forest of Saturday’s race. I lost some time by not taking a direct line between 1 and 2, also missed 3 slightly otherwise no problems apart from not feeling particularly sprightly again. I finished 3rd behind Kevin Harding and Tim Tett but felt that I might have won if I hadn’t made those small errors – I guess that’s part of game.

Pat did really well in one of her first W50L’s to finish 3rd overall. Pretty impressive for someone who has been orienteering for less than a year.

Overall Results

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Shaiba, Catterick.

This event was centred on the Catterick Army Garrison in N.Yorkshire.

Open heath, steep sided wooded valleys and some street O. I really enjoyed the contrasting technique to the previous weekend, which was easy nav, but fast with some path/track route choices.


Saturday, October 14, 2006

My O-Mantras

Here are a few simple tips that I find helpful before and during races.

“If you’re finding it hard, so is everyone else” – Martin Dean

“Simplify to the big features” – Jonathan Lagoe

“Adapt your technique according to the terrain” – Michael Billinghurst

“Visualise what’s in the circle” – Martin Bagness

“Orienteering is easy! All the information you need is on the map” – David Brickhill-Jones

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Deishar 8th Oct

Another superb Speyside forest. Open run-able pine forest with very little brash. Plenty of crag and contour features.

Really enjoyed the race but made a few 2 min errors, which put me 6 mins behind Martin Dean’s time of 65 mins (I did 71 mins). I had a particularly bad miss on 7 where I got confused by an unmapped marsh a 100m or so before the control. I was going pretty well to 6 and was slightly up on Martin at that point. The error blew my concentration and I was messy going to 8. Had a miss on the cairn and the pond too.

An excellent video of the event


Sunday, October 01, 2006


A very runable forest on a steep hillside with some open heather moor on top. The forest is covered in a forgiving carpet of moss which helped running speed. Quite a contrast to Raemoir. Wearing orthotics seems to be an effective solution to yesterday’s ankle pain. Felt pretty strong running and was really enjoying the course until I completely lost it at 12. I got confused with some rides and ended up punching 13 by mistake. Probably lost about 10-12 mins. I’ll put it down to over relaxing on the last few controls – most annoying. Looking forward to seeing Martin Dean’s splits to 11, which will give me some indication of how I was doing.

Pat and I are staying at Kincraig for the week. We are hoping to do some good training in the Speyside forests. I (we) need the practice.

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Raemoir East

A new Lower Deeside area near Aberdeen. Pretty rough going even in the white. I was hoping for a good run after last weekend but I missed the second control, which was a very small crag. I kept going to 12 when my ankle started to hurt. Decided to retire and save myself for Sunday. An evening spent icing the ankle.

Pat persevered on the green course and did well to finish but it seems her Emit brick failed to clear at the start and didn’t register any splits or a total time.

The best part of the day was walking the hound in an amazing sand dune area north of Aberdeen. I assume it must be mapped.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Haverthwaite 24th September

A fantastic area. Lots of complex contour detail and fairly rough going. The organisers predicted that 10 min k’s would be very fast for the terrain. The winner did just under 10 min k’s. I managed around 10.7 min k’s finishing 3rd on the Brown course. No major errors except for some hesitation into some of the controls and time wasted picking up the detail at the end of the longer legs.