The Summer evenings are upon us and with it a bundle of midweek orienteering events. NATO do some really nice events that are very beginner friendly, and usually include the course option of ‘long orange’. This is quite good for a runner; fairly easy navigation but with a bit of distance to it so you feel like you’ve had a run, rather than just a puzzled walk with a map. CLOK do a summer series too.
There was one on Thursday night at Errington Woods. I’ve competed there before on an army event and vowed never to step foot in the place ever again. I hated it. I hated the map, the scale, the terrain, the beer cans, the footpaths that were on the map but not on the ground, the footpaths that were on the ground but not on the map. So it should come as no surprise that Thursday found us sitting in traffic on the Tees flyover, going nowhere fast, but eventually arriving at Errington Woods.
On a balmy summer evening it actually looked quite benign. We registered and gazed over the famous Teesside skyline. The petrochemical industry streches as far as the eye can see. It’s probably a marmite thing, but I love it. The glimpses I’ve seen over the years, from the Redcar half, to innumerable Dave Parry Fell races, the skyline is never far away. But we weren’t here to stand and stare, we were here to orienteer. And away we went. Roberta went off in the wrong direction for her first control, as did I for mine. I soon found my first control and got on with the business of finding the next one. It wasn’t so bad, a bit rough around the edges, but I was getting there. Control 2 I got to eventually. I saw it from some distance but mistook it for a Foxglove and wasted several minutes searching in the wrong place before eventually finding it. I found it by using the skillful technique of looking sorry for myself (not difficult) and waiting for another orienteer to come on by and say, “it’s over there mate.”
It was a nicer place than I remembered although the weather probably helped a lot. Lots of interesting sculptures and trees and stuff. A characteristically shabby performance that I should be used to by now but it’s still frustrating. Still, when you’re at the back, there’s only one way to go.