Sunday, 23 March 2014

Night O fun

The RACOrienteers club organised a Night O, which was held on the Houghton Golf Estate last night. I've been eagerly looking forward to this event and on the night I was giddy with excitement.

I pulled out my Petzl Ultra headlamp, which I've had little opportunity to use in recent years. The battery (I have the small one) doesn't last very long. It should be something like 16hrs on low; but it isn't. This light is impressively bright. You do get bigger batteries, which last longer. This headlamp really is something else. I used it for a short period at the 24hr Rogaine in Estonia. It was pitch black out there; not so on the golf course which had lights along the paths and plenty of ambient light. So, it ended up that I didn't really need this super power headlamp; but it was fun to play with it anyway. Think flood lights on a sports field.

The golf course, being what it is, is not a technical environment so navigation is pretty straight-forward. Also, the terrain of the golf course is tailor-made for night running. With the exception of some low, rope barriers on the sides of paths, there's little to trip you up. So you can blaze across the lawns quite confident of a good footing.

Running around at night really is a completely different feeling. Uplifting, liberating... there's something more 'free' about it. I think that this is why I got hooked on night running so many years ago. Quiet, slumbering surroundings, and you... king/queen of the night.

The only challenge I found was looking at my map. Because of the brightness of my headlamp I tried to look at it  in the 'shade' of the light because the paper totally blinded me. We were also restricted from running across greens or through sand bunkers (marked in pink out-of-bounds) on the map. What I did find tricky is that I wasn't specifically looking for the greens on the map. Sand bunkers are a no-brainer and clearly visible in the dark. In many places the golf course grass goes from regular lawn to close-clipped stretches - fairways and tees? They feel like smooth greens underfoot and so I did skirt a few trying to avoid trampling the fine grass. This certainly cost me a few seconds here and there.

Despite the golf course being easy underfoot and easy navigationally, I still made a bloops getting to control 14. *sigh*

As you'll see on my map below, my attack was spot on (the curve in my route initially was to skirt what was maybe the smooth lawn of a tee). I didn't realise that the rough 'service' road that I dropped on to was the track that I was looking for. And because I was trying not to look at my map too often (glare of the paper = night blind), I didn't check properly.

I actually went straight past my control; and I saw it too - but I didn't think it was mine. It seemed too close to the building, which I'd passed moments before. Distance judgement in the dark can be screwy. I felt a bit confused when it wasn't where I thought it should be (just off the paved road) and also that the vegetation was wrong (too dense) - there was another short, rough road (not on the map) where I left the paved path to skirt around the vegetation (and there was also dark green vegetation near the building too). Nothing quite measured up and because of the glare from the map I really wasn't reading it properly. I went back to near the building, realised my error and punched in at the control I'd passed two minutes earlier. I wasted way too much time here.

After my run I shadowed one of my two favourite boys, Connor. I shadowed his brother Cameron a few weeks ago. I do enjoy shadowing because watching these young ones navigating is quite incredible. Connor is only 8 and his map orientation and quick decisions are superb. He went slightly wrong a few times - it's educational to watch him problem solving, figuring it out and then heading off in the right direction.

Turnout last night was superb. I heard whispers that there were 120 entrants! That's big for orienteering.

Seems I'm not the only one that enjoys running around at night.

[On this, I'm almost confirmed with a start venue for the next Metrogaine. More during the week.]

1 comment:

Staci said...

I had a great time and would love to do more events. The night time adds a special element to it and it was great to see so many families out.