Monday, 30 June 2008

Orienteering with a [almost] blank map

On Sunday the guys going to the Orienteering World Champs in Czech Republic in mid-July presented a special kind of orienteering event. Garry, Eugene, Nicholas and Paul designed a course at Albert's Farm (mapped by Witsoc) where most of information on the map had been removed. This exercise was designed to hone basic compass skills where you take a bearing from A to B; and you have to walk on it. All too often we rely purely on features when we should be using our compasses a little more.

I've included images below of: (you should be able to click on them to get the pics bigger)
a) The map we received (NOTE: mostly white - and it isn't forest*)
b) A close-up of controls 1, 2, 3 and 12 to show the detail around the control
c) My tracks (GPS in my backpack), overlaid on Google Earth. The evidence is there - I didn't run as the crow flies.
* Forest is indicated in blank white on O maps

I have run at Albert's Farm a number of times so I do know the basic layout of the area. I did try not to use my local knowledge of paths and to trust my compass and sightings of attack points.

Start to 1
Not a great start. I bashed through bushes and long grass. Hit the path and started running up towards the road/gate/paths at the top of the map. That would give me an attack on the rocky outcrop. I first hit the wrong rocky outcrop and spotted the next - and then the control

1 to 2
Easy. Short distance and straight line. Visible too once I was over the outcrop.

2 to 3
I'd seen it on the way to 1 and I assumed it would be it. But, there was also a short course out there so I had to be careful incase it wasn't my control. Hit it spot on.

3 to 4
Bearing from 3 pointed down a path. I just followed it as it was going in the right direction.

4 to 5
I took a bearing from 4 and spotted a mini forest. Bearing went to the left of the forest. There was long grass (taller tham me) all around. I chose the path until the forest, re-aligned my bearing and could see a signboard. I weaved through the grass towards the signboard. Control was at a tree stump a few meters from the board.

5 to 6
I know there is a main path running from near the house straight down towards the river and I assumed that it may be the path visible next to the control. But, I wanted to pretend I didn't know about the path. I took a bearing from 5. It pointed to the right of a big thicket. I headed in that direction and tried what looked like a path going in. It was terrible and the grss was way over my head so I couldn't see a thing. I turned around and continued along the vegetation boundary until I found a recently pressed jeep track. I ran down a way, turning to take a back bearning on my thicket. Once I'd gotten in line with the thicket I bashed through the grass, landed on the mowed main path and saw the big stand-alone willow tree (control was on a significant tree).

6 to 7
Took a bearing. Spotted a bunch of trees in the right direction. Sighting looked a little to the right of centre. Took the main path and then into the trees closer to the side of the dam (indicated on the map). Easy one.

7 to 8
Made a bloops. Took a sighting from my bearing from 7. Spotted two young trees on the other side of the dam. Location of control looked to be to the left of them. I took the path over the dam and started heading for the trees. I ignored my own decision about the control being to the left and got confused with the side roads off the park. I thought I'd popped out lower than what I had. I started running up the pavement and then realised what a moron I was. I ran back, headed for the left of the trees and grabbed the control. Doh!

8 to 9
Took a bearing to a clump of trees in line with the control. I didn't want to go along the cliff top so I dropped down and crossed the stream. I tried to get in line with the trees but was below them. Although I knew I was close to the control I was out of the line. I climbed back up (meters from the control!), went back to the trees, checked my bearing and ended up above the control Had to scramble down to get it.

9 to 10
Another bloops. I didn't get a certain fix on an object in the direction of where the control was and I also thought I hadn't done enough distance. I had to run around the house and then made for the closest forest I could see. Bad move. I realised I'd come too far down and also hadn't read the vegetation properly on the map. I turned around and headed up. Just before I got to the control I saw another guy leaving it. Confirmation of my stupidity!

10 to 11
11 was on bar rock, just off the main tar road, near the entrance gate (entrance gate visible on the map). Road running was easiest and when a suitable distance from the gate I turned into the grass. Nice easy one.

11 to 12
Took a sighting on a tree/bush on the hill. Control should be to the left of the bush. I took paths heading in the right direction. Control just off the path. Nice and easy too.

12 to 13
Decided to follow the fence line all the way around to 13. Path indicated on the map looks like it goes all around, which it did. Enough detail around 13.

13 to finish
Straight running. Nice and easy finish within sight.
This was a super training exercise and I hope that we'll play these O training games every few months. They really make you focus and to think about your map and compass in a totally different way because you can't rely on your regular habits.

Thanks guys. Great event. And GOOD LUCK in Czech.


Anonymous said...

Hi ya Lisa,

What was your distance covered? It would be interesting to know.


adventurelisa said...

Ah... Good question Richard. Total distance was 5.32km. Lisa

Anonymous said...

and time taken?

Looks like loads of fun.

adventurelisa said...

About 55-mins. Definitely not a fast run! I think the overall winning time was about 38-mins?