Being a self confessed parkrun addict there was no fear that a weekend away would not include a parkrun. After a friend visited Whinlatter Forest and relayed its breath taking views to us, it was top of the list for Saturday morning.
We awoke to a beautiful glittering frost, and as any parkrunner knows this means a quick check of the Facebook page to ensure the event is on! Dressed and barcodes at the ready we headed into the forest…
Met by many lovely fellow parkrunners all eager / apprehensive about what awaits, we gathered for the race briefing. A massive shout out to today’s RD Sonia doing her 100th volunteer stint today! After covering all the safety aspects, welcoming all the visitors and a round of applause to the amazing volunteers we were off!
So earlier I mentioned breath taking views! What my friend failed to mention was these are not the only things that take your breath away on this run! Hills (they are our friend), they are famous here at Whinlatter Forest! Officially the UK’s hilliest parkrun but also the most beautiful!
Today was definitely a parkrun first for me and Whinlatter, for that matter, by the presence of a dinosaur! NEVER did I imagine that parkrun would turn into a scene from Jurassic Park! The chirps of all the fellow runners pushing on and looking between the trees to not be beaten or chased down by a dinosaur!! Thankfully we managed to escape the clutches of the T -Rex and thunder down the hill to the finish.
Met by the lovely RD and her team of amazing finish line helpers we had the obligatory selfie in the frame and picture with the parkrun sign (if you don’t do this as a tourist you didn’t attend)!
Refuelling in the on-site cafe we met some other lovely visitors from Druridge Bay, Scunthorpe and Derbyshire.
Thank you making us so welcome, we would welcome you all to our lovely (FLAT) course any time!
I’ve been to the Kendal Mountain Festival a few times over the years and always been inspired by the programme of storytelling, films and other presentations. So when I lined up with over 600 other runners on a cold but sunny morning at the start of the festival’s 10k trail race I felt confident in my ability to tackle a challenging course.
We ascended almost continuously over the first two miles, heading out from the centre of Kendal in a south-westerly direction over the substantial rocky limestone escarpment of Helsington Barrows. We then turned north along Scout Scar with the exquisite Lyth Valley down below us to the west, and a panorama of Lake District fells in front of us. The conditions were much easier now, on gentler gradients and short turf, and it didn’t seem long before we turned eastwards towards Kendal with the Howgill and Barbon Fells coming into view beyond. Just to add to the variety of underfoot conditions the final mile of the route included some muddy downhill slopes and back streets with many steep steps, before finishing in the town centre.
How did I feel at the end of the race? Pretty good really – I’d prepared mentally for the first two uphill miles, and once that section was over it was just a case of keeping a rhythm going and concentrating as best I could on running technique.
An exhilarating experience, setting me up nicely for the rest of the festival to enjoy some more stories of exploration and endurance.
Our club track sessions are for ALL abilities. While track sessions may seem intimidating if you have never done them before, once you take the plunge you will see that they are fun, extremely beneficial and certainly not intimidating. You may be nervous about not understanding the session, or being slower than other people. This guide to the basics of track sessions will allay your fears.
What is a track session?
A track session is a running fitness session which takes place on the track [see Appendix]. The track sessions run by the Elvet Striders are led by club coaches, although are also completely possible to do on your own.
Each track session is in three parts: a warm-up, the main session and the cool down. All track sessions begin with a warm-up. The warm-up is really important to prepare the body’s muscles for the hard work to follow and to reduce the risk of injury. This usually involves some easy running, by dynamic mobility exercises and strides. The easy running may be a few social laps of the track. Dynamic mobility exercises are exercises which raise the heart rate and which get the muscles firing. Some examples include ‘fast feet’, walking lunges, skipping, side-steps, bum kicks, shallow squats, ‘windmill’ arms. These exercises are dynamic to prevent the muscles from being over-stretched before they are warm enough. They focus on the main groups of muscles used in running. Strides are running fast for very short distances. For example, the coach might ask you to run 2 laps of the track where you jog the bends and run fast on the straights. The aim of this is to slowly raise your heart rate to that which you will use during the main session.
The main track session follows. The main session involves a series of intervals and recoveries. Intervals are when you run harder at a specified pace (to be explained), and recoveries are when you recover from running harder. For example, you might do 6 repetitions of 3 minutes hard running with 2-minute recoveries. That would mean that you are doing 18 minutes of harder running in total. In the recoveries you would run at a much slower pace, either jogging or walking or some combination of the two. The aim is to keep an even pace throughout the session in both the intervals and the recoveries, i.e., you should cover the same distance in each interval. Whatever you decide to do in the recoveries (jog or walk) you should aim to do the same each time.
There are different paces which you might be asked to run the intervals in. These include threshold pace, interval pace and repetition pace. These paces are determined by your current fitness level and can be calculated using for example a parkrun PB, or 5K PB or 10K PB, using either the calculator in http://www.attackpoint.org/trainingpaces.jsp or a simple calculator provided in the session notes circulated in both email and FaceBook communications. If you prefer to run by effort and feel, no problem, just leave your sports watch at home. The following table indicates how running effort can be graded on a scale of 1 to 10. You should aim to run at the same effort in each interval and in each recovery.
Light activity – comfortable speaking, breaking a sweat
Moderate activity-speaking is easy, light sweating.
Moderate activity-able to speak, moderate sweating
Hard activity-difficulty speaking, heavy sweating
Hard activity-Unable to speak, difficulty breathing
Very hard activity
Maximal exertion-cannot push any further
The main session is followed by a cool down. This is where the body is brought back gradually to its pre exercise state, reducing heart rate, body temperature and breaking down of any build-up of lactic acid from the session (this is thought to be one of the contributing factors to Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness). The cool down may begin with some easy running or walking, which may be joined on to the end of the main session. This is followed by static stretches to bring the muscles back to their pre-exercise length as when you exercise muscles by contraction, they tighten/shorten. Repeating the stretches later or using a foam roller later also helps. Examples of static stretches include deep squats, hamstring stretches, glute stretches and quad stretches.
Club track sessions are calibrated by time. By this, I mean a coach will time the intervals and recoveries with a watch and blow a whistle—one blast meaning start hard running and two blasts meaning start of recovery; and usually 3-5 blasts signalling the end of the session. Thus, regardless of ability, everyone starts and finishes every interval and recovery at the same time—in true Elvet Strider tradition, “no one gets left behind”.
Track sessions can be done equally well by distance., especially if you are doing a track session on your own or with a few friends you could use sports watches if you are running by time, or use the distance markers round the track if you are running by distance.
Why do track sessions?
Regular track sessions can improve your speed and endurance. This takes time but does happen. Improvement can be measured using time trials or by comparing over several weeks your parkrun times on the same parkrun route, preferably under similar conditions.
Track sessions enable you to learn how to pace yourself (run with even effort/speed over time). This is useful training for racing where setting off too fast could mean a weak finish or hitting a wall before the finish. (Note that in a marathon, owing to the distance, hitting a wall is unavoidable due to human physiology, however if you pace yourself well then this wall creeps up later and more gently rather than earlier and suddenly).
Track sessions are very time efficient in terms of training. The whole session may last only 45 minutes.
A key benefit of track is you can run freely without interruption, focussing fully on your running and running form. There is no uneven ground, pavement curbs or pedestrians and road crossings to look out for.
Track sessions are sociable. You get to meet lots of people running in circles. If you are nervous you could pal up with someone of similar ability and run together. You can also run with people of similar speed to help push each other.
I am not a fast runner—is track for me?
Track is for all. Track is for beginners to elite runners. Track can help road, trail, fell running and triathlon to maintain and improve fitness.
The wonderful thing about running in circles is no-body knows where anyone is as it all gets a bit mixed up with everyone running at different speeds. So, don’t worry if you think you might be slower than everyone else as no-one can tell. In fact, running in a circle you can always assume everyone is behind you!
Also, be mindful that speed is not only a function of fitness. Speed is also dependent on age, number of hours a week you work, number of hours you devote to running, and family considerations. Speed is adversely affected by lack of sleep, stress and by how much else you have done that day.
There are many games you can play running in circles! Running in circles with others also allows you to challenge yourself. For example, you could decide everyone is ahead of you and that you need to attempt to pass as many people as possible. This is good mental preparation for pursuit races such as cross-country.
If you are finding it hard, a mental trick that I play is to pretend the track it is always downhill. The long edge of the track nearest the sports centre is slightly downhill, then you spin round the bend and are greeted by the other long edge next to the river which is yet more downhill, run around the bend and …funnily enough …. you are going downhill again!
What to expect afterwards
Some DOMS (delayed onset of muscle soreness) is normal for a few days after a track session as you have pushed yourself, especially if you are new to track. Especially as it required 200 muscles to take a stride when running! To help your muscles recover you should eat protein between 30-60 minutes after hard exercise, drink lots of water and rest or run at an easy pace for a few days after or longer depending on your fitness. If you have more than general overall soreness/stiffness or a specific area which is sore, you could consult one of the club coaches for advice.
I am relatively new to running—is it safe to do track sessions?
Please discuss with one of the club coaches who will be more than happy to help.
If you are pregnant/had a baby recently/have a health condition please follow guidance from your GP as appropriate and also discuss with club coaches.
What should I wear and what should I bring to a track session?
Bring plenty of water and warm clothes for afterwards. These can all be left track-side. Wear whatever you feel most comfortable in.
There are a few ‘rules of the track’ to keep everyone safe. We all run around the track in the same direction (usually anticlockwise). You run in the inner lanes and it is the responsibility of faster runners to overtake you on your right leaving plenty of space. If you are running with a friend, do not run abreast, but in a line, or with one person on the shoulder of the other. This allows more room for faster runners to pass. When overtaking, stopping, or leaving the inside lane to leave the track, you should check over your shoulder for runners coming up behind you, so as not to cause a collision. Note that warm-up and cool downs are done in the outer lanes of the track to keep out of the way of runners doing a main session.
Most things in life worth doing are not easy. There is a sense of achievement after every track session
What is a running track?
A modern running track is oval in shape with eight lanes. Running tracks are built following guidelines established by the IAAF (International Association of Athletics Federations). These guidelines state the distance around the track in the most inner lane should be 400m.
The distance around the track for the other lanes can be calculated by knowing the lane width and a few other measurements. The formula, L = 2S + 2pi(R + (n-1)w) can be used to calculate the distances around the track for the various lanes. In this formula L equals the lane distance, S equals the length of the straightaway, R is the radius of the turn, n is the lane number and w is the width of the lane.
Since the IAAF has standardized track lane widths at 1.22 meters the above formula calculates the distance around the track in lane 2 as 407.67 meters, lane 3 as 415.33 meters, lane 4 as 423 meters, lane 5 as 430.66 meters, lane 6 as 433.38 meters, lane 7 as 446 meters and lane 8 as 453.66 meters. So, if you are running in lane 8, you are running an additional 54m every lap than the guy in lane 1 (the inner-most lane).
If you are running in lane 1 (the inner-most lane), 4 laps are roughly a mile (4.02 laps to be precise).
Running tracks can be built with different surfaces. The running track at Maiden Castle has a red, all weather surface which is made of polyeurethane (a synthetic rubber). This surface is durable and heat-resistant
Our very own Stephen Jackson was selected to run in the MV35 English team at the British & Irish Cross Country International competition at Liverpool. Running 8k in 26’04”, saw him home as third counter for the team. England finished fourth team, only one point down from N. Ireland.
We know he’s good but he can’t win the Harrier League on his own, so let’s get behind him on Saturday, preferably running, or if not,making lots of noise for our men’s & women’s teams.
This is an event I do every year, not because I particularly like it (though I do), but because of the four years that this event has taken place I have taken part.
The half marathon this year, as it was last, forms part of a double event where by you can run both the marathon and the half to get a special prize. Unlike in previous years however the full marathon was being ran on the Saturday, with the half taking place on the Sunday. Weather conditions up on the Cheviot, which the full is supposed to go over, took a turn for the worse and their Saturday route became two laps of Sunday’s half route.
Great, what was looking to be an already soggy and boggy course had been churned up even more with the full runners tackling it twice the day before us half runners got set loose on it. Safety first though and the right decision was made for the full runners.
Running this event with me were two of my work colleagues, marvellous I thought to myself, this means I’ll have to put some effort in to beat them.
So onto the run itself. I’ll summarise this very quickly. If you’re not going up hill, you’re going down and on this occasion if you weren’t running in thick mud you were running in a stream. Yes, my shoes went from nice and clean to very dirty multiple times before they joined me in the shower at home.
This really is a great Half Marathon and I’d highly recommend it to anyone.
So, I had a ‘free weekend’…..what to do? Forecast looked good, maps out…..mmmm.
I decided to go for the Espresso Round with mum. This is the Abraham Tea Round’s shorter and lower alternative. You start and finish at the George Fisher shop in Keswick, and need to touch 4 tops, Catbells, Rowling End, Causey Pike and Barrow (in any order). No racing, no times, no pressure, and (the whole point) you can see the tea shop – the ‘prize’ – from all the tops on the route.
A little bit of cajoling convinced mum to go for it, it being a bit further than she has run recently. The weather did indeed give us a glorious day – cool to start, but sunny, clear, and just warm enough for mum to get down to short sleeves.
The famous grouse was on fine form on Rowling End (I suspect the same cheeky chap that Jules, Nigel, and Mike ran into on their Tea Round), making lots of noise and chasing us along the path.
Mum and I jogged and walked at a fairly relaxed pace, stopping often to soak up the views, compare and eat our snacks, take photos, chat to others enjoying the fells. Naturally as we descended Barrow (the final hill) we checked the time, and I quite arbitrarily decided that we needed to finish within 4hrs 20 (despite all the time spent doing said activities without any clock watching). So I told mum to grit her teeth and get stuck in, and made her work for that last mile and a half (including dodging people and dogs in Keswick centre, before racing to the door of the shop and stopping watches at 4.18). I can only assume that every runner sets random targets in exactly the same way, including mid-run…..it’s not just me??
This is a good route up four very pleasant and slightly different hills, with some easy rocky sections, plenty of runnable bits (if so inclined), and cracking 360-degree views. I can definitely recommend this as a run or walk.
There are no prizes for this Round. But that didn’t matter on the day – all the glory was in spending a wonderful day out together in a fantastic part of the world.
I find that in the running community, one of the most commonly talked about topics is shockingly, running. One of the most frequently asked questions I seem to get is ‘so, what’s next, anything planned?’ to which my usual answer is no, not really. I don’t often plan events far in advance, and tend to go where the mood strikes me, so here’s a brief insight into ‘What Fiona Did Next’
Many have heard of the Bob Graham Round, who devised a route across 42 Lakeland Fells and was (wait for it) 42 at the time. Over the years, others (including Geoff) have felt that this is not sufficient and added extra fells on, to mark the passing of their extra years. A few weeks before my 28th birthday, I decided that 28 sounded just about doable and could be nicely contained into a circuit around Ullswater, beginning and ending at Pooley Bridge.
The original birthday plan had been to complete the Abraham Tea Round with Elaine and Nina, but with Elaine having a bad knee, and Nina sensibly opting for a run out with Jan I set off on a solo mission to count down 28 completely arbitrary summits on a clear, crisp winter morning.
I began with Gowbarrow Fell, before heading up onto the Helvellyn ridge, right along to the High Street ridge, and back along the over Loadpot Hill. My headtorch went on just before the last summit, Arthur’s Pike and I even passed a few walkers just afterwards who looked like they too had been out for a rather long day. I stopped into the shop in Pooley Bridge before leaving, and the friendly shopkeeper asked what I’d been up to – I think I looked a bit tired – ‘over to Helvellyn’ – I’m not sure he realised I’d been there on foot!
The whole route took me around 9.5 hours and was around 40 miles, with 11,000 ft of climbing (I think, my watch ran out of battery at about 9 hours and 36 miles somewhere above Ullswater). Summits included Wainwrights, Hewitts and Birketts (Every Wainwright is a Birkett and a Hewitt, but not every Hewitt and Birkett is a Wainwright…)
This was a last minute decision. We didn’t have any plans for Saturday and a Leeds friend mentioned he was doing a race which didn’t offer either a medal or a T-shirt. To him this was a negative but to me it spelt out being my sort of race! So on an impulse I booked us in.
The Holly Hustle is a small race with 11k and 22k options (the latter just two laps of the former) with a total maximum competitors of 250. It’s described as a challenging trail race which is a fair description. It was definitely too challenging for some (my road-running friend hated it and dropped out after a lap) and not without its hazards (Tom managed to end up falling head first and damaging his leg and hand) but it is all runnable as long as you don’t mind a lot of mud and rocks and roots to negotiate.
Broadly speaking the lap is a figure of 8 through woods and along the river. Almost all is on muddy tracks apart from a killer hill at the end of the lap which is on tarmac. Notorious for people getting lost I was chuffed with myself for getting round the first half without making any nav errors but on the second lap I had nobody near me (all the one lappers were in the pub!) and I realised it was more complex than it had seemed when I was following other people. There are lots of river crossings and remembering this from the first lap I managed to take the wrong bridge and get myself in a right confusion. I headed back to the last point I recognised and eventually another runner turned up and pointed me in the right direction. He pointed out I should know what I was doing as I’d done it before but he obviously wasn’t aware of my ability to get lost wherever I go… After that point I didn’t see any other runners but did manage to follow the very small pink flags all the way. I finished 4th woman and in under 2 hours, injury-free and pleasantly tired which I was happy with.
I really enjoyed the race and it had a nice relaxed atmosphere. An added bonus was starting and finishing in a pub and free soup at the end. I’d recommend to anyone who is a fan of off-road running.
If you can get the day of work, or not work at all, the Military League army orienteering events are great for the runner. I usually do not too badly in them, and over the years I’ve seen myself creep up the placings. The navigation is usually not too difficult and nowadays, more often than not, I’m pretty happy with my result.
Wednesday’s event at Catterick, was not one of those days.
These are army events, and are put on for the army as training events. Most of them are open to civilians, in possession of a passport and a free day. So well suited to the freelancer, the homeworker, the worker on flexitime, and the retired. It’s a wondrous mix.
I was feeling pretty confident as I checked the blank map at the Start. There’s been a couple of occasions recently in orienteering events where I’ve accidentally strayed into Out of Bounds areas so I tend to check the map legend more closely nowadays. And this map had a clear section for Out of Bounds areas. In urban areas this is worth paying attention to. You don’t want to accidentally run through someone’s garden, or across a sensitive bit of parkland, or munitions, or whatever. And I noted, with interest, that Water was Out of Bounds. Well that might make things interesting.
The first few controls were in the barracks, then we were ejected out of the gate that had taken so much security to get into, and into the surrounding area. The navigation got a bit fiendish now, especially as the water had been marked as out of bounds. Which, to be frank, I thought was pretty pathetic. I’ve seen beefier becks at Hamsterley and that is (rarely) marked as out of bounds. Who’s going to take a long detour round to the nearest footbridge when a brief paddle will do the job much more quickly.
Still, rules is rules. And from a runner’s point of view, there was a certain switch-of-brain-now satisfaction in a long tempo run along, across, and round, then back along again, but even so, it was a long way round. I mean, look at 17 to 18, and 24 to 25, and so help me God, 22 to 23. I mean, look at it again. 22 to 23, and you’re not allowed to to paddle across! My split was almost 11 minutes, when it should’ve been almost 2. I did look hard at the pipeline crossings; they were not marked out of bounds, but I suspected (rightly) than large amounts of barbed wire might be involved, and they might not be a worthwhile route of investigation.
So you might be ahead of me here, and can guess the next bit. I got to download, asked who the planner was, and Phill Batts brightly announced that it was he. I complemented him on the fiendishness of the course, the decision to mark water out of bounds, and dryly (I thought, but let’s be frank, probably closer to waspishly) observed that a lot of runners had taken a non-legal direct line.
Phill looked puzzled, and mildly pointed out that the blue out of bounds area, on the out of bounds bit of the map, was a dark blue, with a border, and the beck, on the map, was light blue, and without a border. So the beck was very much not out of bounds.
Bugger. Given that I’d taken the non-scenic route I was happy not to be last, but annoyed at myself for making such a daft mistake. But as I always tell myself, I’m not going to get on the podium, so however the day unfolds, an orienteering event is always a great bit of training.
The excitement had been building all week and my preparation was spot on. I was in peak condition and ready to go and face the onslaught known as the Harrier League Cross Country. I had even restricted my self to 4 pints of beer whilst at a retirement do on the Friday night. Then as I was waiting to catch the bus home from the black hole known as Durham Bus Station, I got the text. ‘Its Off”.
The question was now what are we going to do as an alternative?
The answer was the October Odyssey Orienteering event held at Dukeshouse Wood at Hexham on Sunday morning. Oh what joy!
I actually quite like orienteering, provided that any course I do allows participants a good opportunity to have a pacey run between control points, similar to our local event at Aykley Heads last year. I don’t mind doing the navigation, but I hate it when it gets too complex as it really ruins my run. Basically, I get really sickened off and quite antisocial, and guess what? I ended up being quite antisocial after this lark.
Firstly we set off from home and myself, Heather, Theresa and Phil and travelled together to Hexham.
The intention was that we would complete the event in teams of 2, Heather & Theresa as Team 1, Phil & I as Team 2. Also, we had to put a time limit on the event, as Phil had booked a post Cross Country Massage for mid afternoon. The fact that there was no cross country to have a massage for was irrelevant, but Phil had to have it.
Both Phil and Theresa are fairly new to the club, and they are both very keen participants in both club runs and running events. They have certainly bought in to the club ethos, and with in their first week got in to buying every piece of clothing that can be bought with the club logo on. Phil in particular is the most purple person I know, and today in the car he was trying out his new club Buff. The problem was he did not really know the best way to wear the buff and so spent the whole journey trying different approaches to meet his preferred style. In fact, does anyone know the best way to wear a buff, without looking like a fool?
Personally I wear a buff around my neck, which I think is fine. Phil tried his on his head, and in various guises looked like a pirate, a Ninja Warrior, or Spock from Star Trek depending whether he had his ears tucked under of over the band he had made with the buff. In the end he was a pirate!
If anyone has any advice on the best way to wear a buff, can you let me know, and I can pass it on to Phil.
Secondly, things started to go wrong when we arrived at the venue. Many participants had prebooked places on the various courses, as this is a very popular event with serious orienteers. Because of the cross country cancellation, we could not pre-book, therefore the only decent run still available when we registered was the Brown Course. This was the longest run at 5.8 miles, with a degree of difficulty of 5 out of 5. The distance does not sound far, but the difficulty of the navigation made this route in to a true expedition of epic proportions.
Next thing was that we had to hire an electronic dibber to record our reaching each of the control points, and we were warned “Don’t what ever you do lose the dibber”
We managed to navigate to the start, which was the easy bit. The hard bit commenced at the start itself. We also gave ourselves a 2-hour time limit so Phil would get back for his massage.
Firstly Team 1 of Heather and Theresa set off, with their map and dibber, followed a minute later by Phil and I as Team 2.
I think it’s safe to say that we both Phil and I wanted to have a good run out, stretch our legs, get out of breath, complete the course, and stuff Heather and Theresa by beating them around the course. The reality would be somewhat different.
Once we were off, we grabbed the map, noted where the first control point was and set off along a path up a small hill. Just over the brow of the hill and about 100m from the start, the difficulties that we would experience became self-evident.
Basically, we were met be the thickest thicket that you have ever seen, made up solely of prickly bushes and brambles. We both headed off in to the bushes and immediately lost each other. It was thick and biting. We decided to split up in order to find the control. Although we could not find the blasted thing, or each other, we met loads of other people aimlessly walking through, under and over bushes, all looking for the same control, and all walking around in different directions. We were all lost together, after only 3 minutes from the start.
Eventually, I found the control, pinged it and shouted across to Phil. I could hardly hear his reply. We regrouped and sought out the second control, which was supposed to be about 20m away. I took a compass bearing from the map and forced my way towards where I thought it should be.
By now, we both realised that our vision of having a good run was gone. We were stuck in navigation and not a running contest. I was starting to get pissed off already and we’d only been out 5 minutes
We came across Team 1 and I politely asked Heather if she had found control 2. At times Heather has the compassion of a water cannon operator, and this was one of those times. You see, she just loves navigating and likes the challenge of finding the controls in the most difficult places. Therefore her stony-faced non-committal response to my polite request was to be expected, as she knew I would hate this type of course, and was rubbing that fact in.
I shouted across to Phil. ‘have you found it?” There was no response. I shouted again, and there was no response. I had lost him already.
I found him hidden under a bush and dragged him out. Eventually, we found the second control. We then needed a machete to work our way to a forest trail to head off to the next control. But because machetes are not approved equipment at orienteering events, we had to crawl on hands and knees and through the bottom of prickly bushes to make some headway. This was getting like hard work.
We then took a series of paths heading off to the next sets of controls, which were fairly easy to navigate. But then we were confronted with a change in vegetation, from prickly thick bushes under a canopy of trees, to thick forests of Rhododendron bushes under a canopy of trees. These were thicker than the thickest thickets experienced earlier, but less prickly.
It was here that tempers were starting to fray a little. Not ours I may add, but an innocent looking old lady who we came across under some bushes, who looked as if butter would not melt in her mouth. What came out of her mouth was not butter, but a series of expletives along the lines of ‘I’m F…ing sick of it! This is ‘F’ ing ridiculous’.
She then stated that she was not going through the ‘F’ ing bushes and was going around them. Considering that we had no choice but to follow our compass bearing to the next control, we set off on hands and knees under the bushes rather than going around. This was getting stupid now, and our progress was hardly running pace and more like baby crawling pace.
The psychology of orienteering certainly brings out the best and worse in people in these circumstances. As members of the ‘Where the hell are we’ tribe, it was noticeable that as a group of people who were having some difficulties with navigation, we all became a collective of stalkers. Aimlessly looking around for the control points, then latching on to someone who looks vaguely as if they know where they were going, only to have that illusion shattered as they were as equally lost as ourselves and were stalking us.
Our next cock up was totally my fault. We moved on to try to find the 7th control, which was hidden in deep jungle. The main problem was that my shoelaces kept undoing owing to being caught on bushes, which meant I had to take my gloves off to lace back up, and so remove my dibber attached on a loop to my finger. It was here that I lost the dibber, and so we couldn’t register our presence at any more control points. Now I was totally p****d off.
I knew we were a little ahead of Team 1, but now we would never be able to record that fact, and were set for a DNF. Total humiliation was now coming our way!
Despite the loss of the dibber, we aimed to continue our expedition and visit the controls in sequence. The next sets of controls were less well hidden than previously and so we were able to do a bit of proper running. Also, when we got to the actual controls, I made a metaphorical ‘bleeping’ sound to simulate the dibber being placed in the control. This action didn’t help us record any points, but made us feel a bit better.
We came across Team 1, who were now behind us in time, but I still gallantly pointed them in the general direction of control No 10, despite their non-verbal communication at a previous control point. We don’t hold grudges, and in any case we were in front of them in the real world, just not in the eyes of the organisers.
After about 1hour and 35 minutes, we found that the next sets of controls were taking us way from the start. Bearing in mind our 2-hour time limit and Phil’s need for a massage, we headed to the finish line.
Phil and I then made our way to the registration point, where I declared the loss of the dibber and a DNF. It was then we found that Phil had ripped the material on his running leggings, clearly whilst negotiating some bushes.
Orienteering can be brutal. It’s not always about having a nice run out, because it can be both frustrating and bloody annoying. In our case we had visited 13 controls out of 30 in 1 hour 45 minutes, covered a distance of 3.2 miles at 28 minute mile pace, lost the dibber for which I paid £20 to the organisers for a replacement, recorded a DNF and Phil had ripped his running leggings at the cost of £40 for a new pair. Finally, we had officially lost to Team 1.
I am pleased to say that Phil made it back in time to have a nice post Cross Country massage. Roll on the sheer joy to be had at the next cross country meeting.
Dougie Nisbet …
“That wasn’t me by the way”
“Just checking. I mean, you do have form.”
Roberta had been chortling along to Ian’s report of the October Odyssey on Sunday. I didn’t know that people still chortled, or even guffawed, but Ian’s report certainly seemed to strike a chord. Roberta once crashed out of some path-side undergrowth at an orienteering event, checked the control id, found out out it wasn’t hers, and with an emphatic FFS, stomped down the path in disgust, pausing only to say Good Morning to a couple of startled dog walkers who were not quite expecting to see what they had just seen.
I’ve had the benefit of reading Ian’s report before deciding to write a few words of my own. I do a lot of orienteering, and as I like to point out, it’s great interval training. Classic Fartlek. And the worse you are, the better the training. I had, for me, a fairly decent run on Sunday. I wasn’t last, and there were a few gaps between last, and me, that I was happy to see. Not a vast number of gaps and I’d always be happy to see them vaster, but it was an ok day.
When I dibbed Control 1, which I thought was indecently tricky for the first control, I thought that I wouldn’t want to have a wobble so early on. Struggling on Control 1 is not a great start and a bad start can set the mood for the day. I still have nightmares about Sand Dunes, so many Sand Dunes. 16 minutes to cover the 100m from the Start to Control 1 in Druridge Bay in 2013 still haunts me.
It was a challenging course and I was happy to get to the end. The navigation and terrain were difficult. I was fairly happy with my route, although I did make some major wobbles here and there. With three controls to go and looking for a straightforward control in a ditch junction, I chanced upon the ditch by standing on a piece of grass that turned out to be a generous expanse of empty space. Winded and bloodied, I followed it to the control. The bleeding was quite impressive and the finish marshall did voice some concern, but brambles do that. It was the three foot drop and loss of breath and dignity that were much more unsettling.
If you ever decide to give orienteering a bash, and you really should, then, as a runner, here’s the only thing you need to know. All colour coded courses from Green and above, are all the same difficulty. Both in navigation and terrain. They’re all the same. Green is shorter, then there’s blue, then there’s brown and sometimes black. They only differ in distance. But in terms of navigational difficulty, they’re all the same.
NATO are one of the orienteering clubs that use Routegadget for post-run analysis. This can be interesting to see how your run has compared to others. It’s a great learning tool and lets you look at the maps and routes for all the courses.