Sunday, 8 January 2012

Big 5 O - Day 5, fast 'n fun & well done!

The final day of the Big 5 O wrapped up today with a fun sprint event in the Nelspruit Botanical Gardens. I ran 2.7km and we had 24 controls to find, which meant we were running fast and punching controls faster. It is a tricky area with many little paths so it made for a quick-thinking course. Excellent fun.

I had a decent run. I got caught by Michele, who started a minute after me, approaching the third control. Going from 1 to 2 I took a wrong path. I corrected quickly but lost that minute. I then dropped Michele going to 5 when I went left and she went right. Right was b.a.d. 'cos the area was blocked off. She realised early and turned around - others didn't. I managed to make and keep a gap that she couldn't close.

I caught Cindy along the way and was caught by one of the Junior squad, Jessica. Cindy and I dropped her at a point and then she caught us again with a few controls to go. Helluva fun.

This is my map from this final event.

This is the first time that we've had a 5-day O in South Africa and how wonderful to have so many foreign orienteers participating. In fact, we had more foreigners than locals at this event.

My race number. Lovely touches included our names, country flag and start times for every day - very, very useful!
Overall I was really pleased with my orienteering. My worst control was #11 on Day 4. #1 and #3 weren't great either. These are those wonderful levellers that O throws at you. Keeps me on my toes and keeps me coming back again and again to O events - constantly striving to minimise errors, run faster and to make better decisions. As the Malawian manager from the backpackers, where I stayed in Sabie, said to me on Saturday evening, "Not every day can be Sunday". So right.

Sweaty after the sprint; at the finish with my
event memento, a glass 'rhino' paper weight
For the rest of the controls, a few I overshot/missed by a few metres, correcting within seconds. Most of the controls - like the majority, I ran straight on to, finding them without hesitation.

I'm hoping to have a better year of orienteering this year. Last year, especially in the last five months, I missed soooo many events - just too much on the go. And these were my favourite longer distance courses.

The load of work in putting this event on fell to the organising committee - I'm not sure who all the people on this committee were but they certainly included Nicholas Mulder, Ian Bratt, Craig Ogilvy, Richard Lund and Michele Botha. They really did an amazing job in presenting this event.

The actual events on each day were shared by the four Gauteng orienteering clubs - WITSOC, AR Club (my club), RACO and ROC. There were many people from each club involved in planning the courses (many different courses for different age groups), putting out controls, collecting controls, running the starts and finishes, setting up the event area... I thoroughly enjoyed the choice of terrain and courses and five days of orienteering is wonderful fun.

Clubs - well done! The effort and time that you all put in to this event definitely does not go unnoticed - THANK YOU!

The next Big 5 O will be in 2014. Whether you're an experienced orienteer or novice, there's so much to gain from participating in this event. Highly, highly recommended ;)

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