With my 7 year old son Henry being selected to run on the white course for the chasers in the Yvette Baker Junior trophy I was always going to attend this event anyway but was unsure as whether to enter or not, let alone decide which course to run on.
Arriving quite early we got Henry signed in and took the 20 minute walk over the farmers field to the start and got him on his way for his first unnassisted attempt at a white course only to see him in the distance fumbling with the map at the first control. After intervening it turns out I folded the map too much and he couldn't see the orientation arrows. A quick re-jig of the map and he was away fine running between each control then stopping to sort the direction out. A bit like his dad really. I think we both need to work on the 'flow'.
After returning to the car park and registration area we got Henry's printout and then I decided I had enough time to have a run myself so as always put my 'best value' head on and opted for the brown course.
After finding Cath to babysit I made sure my laces were taped up and I had everything I needed.
From the start I managed to orientate and find where I was a bit quicker than usual and set off along the best path to get into my stride. I think I did a bit too much on the paths as comparing afterwards to Ian Stamp's GPS route on routegadget I could have cut loads of corners off but at the time didn't want to lose where I was on the map.
The first few controls seemed quite easy to find, probably because I was taking my time but they did seem to be getting progressively harder to find as I ventured into unknown territory in a patch of quite dense forest with many knolls and dips to negotiate.
Around controls 14-15 I latched onto John Robinson from the Chasers club and I think I was suffering with mental fatigue or overload or whatever as I failed to notice that after control 16 you have to turn the map over. I don't think I could have done the next few any quicker than John but did have to put him right on a couple of occasions on the easy bits.
I wasn't sure how long I was thinking it would take but I was out there for 96 minutes. The winner was back in 54mins.
Returning to the car park and most of the cars had gone. All the juniors gone to pizza hut except Henry who Stodge was watching over. Because I'd taken so long I took him to pizza hut anyway arriving only slightly after the others. Feeling mentally if not physically exhausted the Pizza went down very well.
Not a bad result I suppose. Could have gone faster if I'd have been a bit more confident and ventured off the paths a bit.
I was interested to hear Johns take on the OMM when he asked me if I was doing it the weekend after. I said that this was about as technical as I got to which he replied the the OMM was much easier navigation wise. I would like to have a go one day but it would have to be the longest class I could get on. I need to get my monies worth!
Orienteering is a technical sport and as such attracts a lot of technically minded people this in turn has brought a few computer based tools that really help in analysing what you've done or where you've gone wrong on a run. most common of these tools is routegadget which is used for results and route plotting. You can upload a GPS .gpx file to it and with a bit of jiggery can make it fit the course. The adjusting has to be done as the map itself is not geo-adjusted, it does not have a GPS location.
The tool I like a bit better is quickroute which is designed to be used with a gamin 305 but works with my garmin geko o.k. and can display pace through the whole course in a colour coded red for slow and green for fast. It's free as well which is always a bonus.