Monday, 16 June 2014

Gauteng O Champs: Long fun

Today's long course events at the Gauteng Orienteering Champs ended up as a 'training run' after six controls were stolen. As some of them really were not visible from the trails, I can only figure that some malicious individual was watching Cindy putting out the controls and then went behind her and stole them. So, some idiot has six orienteering control flags and six EMIT (electronic timing) blocks. EMIT is, of course, totally useless to them. They look like orange, plastic blocks. The flags... well, they do make nice lampshades; if orange-and-white is your interior-decor scheme.

The individual did leave behind the metal droppers, which had the control number tags still attached. We found the droppers - but there were no flags to be seen.

I'm quite delighted to announce that I made a few mess-ups today. I'm delighted for various reasons...

I've had very smooth orienteering runs for ages. Few problems, very minor errors and clean runs. I haven't been stretched navigationally. And the best way to be stretched is when you make a mess and need to problem solve to get out of it. I do get a very special kind of satisfaction from this.

Of course it is nice to have smooth runs, especially when you're running for time and points and results. But as our courses would be voided, making the mess-ups here, today, was just plain good fun.

I'll let you in on the sneaky-sneaky controls where I had the most fun.

CP4 to CP5
This wasn't exactly a mess-up. Take a look and I'll explain what happened.

Orange 'x' marks about where the control was located. I'm not exactly sure where.
Coming from CP4, I headed into the bushes and was aiming to, cross the path, continue into the trees and hit the next path, near the bend, run down the path and then head into the clearing. But, not far from from the first path crossing I walked on to a CP. I didn't expect it to be mine.

Where I did make an error was in looking at my control descriptions and I saw the number for the next control (105 I think it was). This control was 150. So I felt quite happy that I was correct and that this wasn't my control because it wasn't where I expected it to be. So, I continued with my plan, hit the path, ran along it and headed back into the bushes where I thought the correct clearing was. But there was no control. Mmm... So then I wondered whether I'd made an error with the control number. I re-checked my control descriptions, realised my error and then had to try to find the control again. Fortunately I didn't have to look around too much. I found it, punched and was a bit puzzled but I continued.

Apparently the control was not in the right place - so that confirms my unease. It really had just been chance that I'd walked on to it. If I'd taken a more direct line to the control location I would have missed it.

CP13 to CP14

Pink shows what I did. Green shows what I should have done.
11, 12 and 13 were missing controls. I was here with another orienteer so we verified the problem and just touched the metal stakes in lieu of punching in at the control.

Now in the mood to play, I had a plan in mind for CP13 to 14.. I had my eye on the fence (southern boundary of the map) and hoped to be able to follow the fence and hook around from the South to the CP. I hoped that even though the vegetation was shown as green with undergrowth (the darker green stripes) that it wouldn't be too bad. It was worse! Really, really not a great route. Slow going, lots of blackjacks and pushing through vegetation. I actually couldn't get near the fence, which is why my route curves away from it.

Once I got out I could see where I wanted to go - I even saw mountain bikers on the trail. You see that brown embankment to the West of the control... I'm a bit confused but I think there was more happening with the trails than meet the eye. I shot up the embankment expecting to see the control. Nothing. And then I realised I must have gone up not where I thought I was. I'd crossed a path to get up the embankment... but the picture didn't fit. I ran around a bit to take a look and saw the big 'square quarry'. Aaaahhh... I retraced my steps, crossed the path, headed into the bushes and found the control. Mmm...

And now for the big puzzle of the day!

CP20 to CP21

Pink shows what I did; green shows what I should have done... yellow circle shows where I popped out from the gnarly stuff.
The map looks a lot more obvious scanned and blown up. It's a lot harder to read this small detail when you're running and in reality the total length of the distance on the map between 20 and 21 is 2.2cm.

There are other paths in the area other than the ones indicated here. The main paths are mapped but there are minor tracks too. To put them on the map would really have turned this section into a more of a mess.

So, leaving 20 I was on track and I saw the big mess of boulders ahead. I found an unmarked track and used this to run around the boulders. But then, I wasn't exactly sure where the path had dumped me but I was fairly ok with the direction I needed to go.

The terrain here was a mess! Loads of knolls - probably created from dumped building rubble and long grass and rocks... It was horrible going. But, I popped out on a trail eventually and was looking down an embankment. OK, so where was I on the map? There were lots of trails around. I was also trying to get my position from the cultivated lands (yellow with black dots) I could see.

Looking at this big image now, it seems quite obvious - but it wasn't when I was standing there. I ran to my right hoping to see just a bit more. I could see the river, I checked my map orientation and then knew almost exactly where I was. I've checked my GPS track and it verifies this.

Once I had my fix, I ran back along the path. I made another little bloops because I then spotted a control next to a path (which is where this one was indicated on my control descriptions). I didn't expect my control to be there but then I didn't 100% trust that I was correct about where I was. I did check the control and saw it wasn't mine - so I returned to where I was and made my way - about 30m on - to my control.

And from there I was fine again.

But this was a nasty that took me a total of 10:27 from CP20 to CP21. Should have taken less than half of this.

Nonetheless, I was pretty chuffed with this puzzle. I haven't been foxed like this for a while. I was quite satisfying to fix the problem.

There were a few other places where I skirted around vegetation - but probably should have gone straight through. No big time losses but not great lines.

My total distance was 9.7km.

The Polokwane students and adults seemed to do pretty well today - again a good number of clean courses despite the missing controls.

One of the adults (I think he's the taxi driver - very, very keen and enthusiastic)... I'd pulled him off the sprint on Saturday afternoon and yesterday he messed up on the middle course at the 3rd control and had then given up. Yesterday afternoon we spent some time chatting through his course and I created 'stories' for him - examples of what he should be thinking of when looking at the map. The controls on his course were mostly all right on paths.

Like... "Follow the road for about 50 metres. Look for a path on the right. Go straight. There will be another path that crossed from the left and right. Keep straight. The next path will come in on the left. Take this one. Go up this path and at the first junction you'll see the control."

"So, it's not that bad, is it?" I'd announced.

"Mmm..." he'd responded.

I'd suggested that he focus maybe on finding the first six controls for today's event and that if those went well then he could choose to continue... but to really try to find at least the first six.

After finishing today he found me and was looking totally chuffed. He'd completed the whole course with few problems and no incorrect controls. Yippeee!

If he is, as I presume, the taxi driver, I do hope the school and club will keep him and get him involved with their orienteering activities. I have a feeling that he is the father of a child at the school? And he's based from the settlement just near Mary and Mpachue Secondary school. He's great to keep on board to bring this group to other events and to participate too. After today's successful run he is far more confident and he leaves this three day event knowing that he can do it and eager for more. Just lovely.

My thanks to the organising clubs and helpers and mappers and planners and controllers for these three fabulous days of orienteering. I thoroughly enjoyed the courses.

No comments: