Sunday, 21 June 2009

Gauteng Orienteering Champs

This weekend was the occasion for the annual Gauteng Orienteering Champs. The usual format is a sort/middle distance event on the Saturday afternoon and a long distance course on the Sunday morning.

Garry Morrison and Michele Botha (AR Club) presented the short course event at Hennops Pride, having created a new map for the event. The terrain is very grassy and rocky and the afternoon saw a number of casualties. Our own Jeremy Green was one of these, sporting lots of blood on this right forearm and an impressive roastie across this chest as the result of a wipe-out on the second last leg. He also suspects a cracked rib.

My run was not great at all. I made one stupid mistake going to Control 3 and generally felt like a child ambling over the rocky ground - never my favourite especially when I can see the rocks through the grass. So, I did very little running. Nonetheless, the course was decent and Garry and Michele did a good job with the mapping.

The long distance course this morning, planned and mapped by Nicholas Mulder (ROC) was set on far more runable terrain. The Paardeplats 4x4 venue is situated on the southern slope of the ridge that overlooks the Walter Sisulu Botanical Gardens in the Krugersdorp area. As the area burned recently the ground is great for running, albeit a little tough on your feet and ankles. As I prefer the longer distances, I thoroughly enjoyed today's course. My objective was simply to have good, clean navigation with no hunting or grid searching - the latter being a technique Piers favours *grin*

Aside from a slight bloops (wrong path; not quite parallel) going to #3 and a bit of distance misjudgement and ridge confusion approaching #4, I had an absolutely spot-on navigational event. OK, so I walked too much (lots of hills) when I probably should have been running... but overall I was very happy with my run.

My placings over the two days were not great - definitely slower than my competitors; but in many cases I'm not making as many mistakes - just taking a bit longer between controls.

Last year I probably only did two of the colour-coded events and this year I did one short course (the first one!) and I've done two of the three colour-coded events. This lack in regular orienteering shows in the mistakes that I've made at these recent events; they're mistakes I really shouldn't be making. The next two months should get my mind more into it and I'll get more comfortable over this rough highveld terrain.

Navigation, like running and biking, is something that needs regular practise and maintenance, even if you've been doing the sport for years. I think that's what I really appreciate about this sport. With navigation you can never get too high on your horse because it will cut you down and teach lessons again and again to ground you. And that's what keeps orienteers coming back - each event presents and opportunity to navigate more accurately and minimise mistakes.
In the next day or two I'll post sections from my runs.

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