Wednesday, 8 June 2011

O' dear... a little rusty

I have been waiting in anticipation for the colour-coded orienteering events to start again.

To explain, the orienteering season here is year-round. The year starts with short-course events. These are usually held at venues with really runnable terrain, like schools and parks. Lots of lawns, fields, flowerbeds, parking areas, paths, roads and buildings. You need to think quick and run fast. The navigation is pretty easy, only made a little challenging by the pace. The longer course is probably up to four kilometres; the planners look at a 20 minute winning time.

Colour-coded courses, on the other hand, are so named because a number of courses are offered and they're 'labelled' according to colour, where yellow is the shortest (2km) and easiest (controls on paths, visible as you approach) and brown is the longest (usually around 10km and up to 16km at a Long O) and most technical in navigation (controls not visible as you approach, fine navigation, not on paths/junctions etc). Blue is one below brown and navigation difficulty is similar but distance is slightly less.

Last year I didn't make many of the colour-coded events because of clashes with other races so it was with delight that I headed off to the Voortrekker Monument in Pretoria on Sunday for my first CC events in... well.. umm... eight or nine months! And it showed in my kuk outing.

Here's how it went...

First, we had to draw in the controls off a master map. This is in the red pen that you can't really see. After scanning in the map I drew the controls in on computer, with lines linking them. The yellow dotted line is the route I thought I ran, from memory of my surroundings. The yellow/green line with black border is from my iGot-U GPS logger, put together on QuickRoute software.

Control 6 to Control 7
Hmmm... Options were to go East from 6, along the path and then head South on the less defined path towards 7; OR to cut across the open ground and bash through the vegetation (green) to 7. I took the latter option, which actually seems to have been not too bad. It seems that the less defined path was quite non-existant in places and others had a worse time of it than me.

I purposefully aimed off, thinking that it may be difficult to hit 7 straight on and also reading 'clearings' - of sorts - within the vegetation would be difficult. My objective was to make it through the bushes and to hit the path uphill of the control and to then attack it from open, grassy ground. I did veer a little too far off, but the stone wall gave me a perfect fix on my location. I heard lots of voices around here - many runners battled to find 7. I saw Piers and Michael at this control.

Control 7 to Control 8
Should have been really easy. And, in fact, my route was pretty direct.
When I got to where I thought the control should be, I couldn't see it.

As you can see from my track, I was within five metres of the control initially. I then moved towards the forest and worked my way back again. *sigh* Some minutes lost here because I didn't go North enough - to me it seemed like the control was more in the vegetation and a bit more North than where I'd put it on the map. Easy to lose minutes with this kind of thing. When I did see it I could have fainted; I'd been so close on first approach and would have see it if I'd looked to my left. Doh!

Control 11 and Control 12
Very inelegant - both of these.

Let's deal with 11 first. I made a good line up to the control. Should have been easy but for the grass, which stood higher than my head. I had a feeling that I was a bit too far to the left (only a few metres, it seems) but was not certain how far I'd deviated. So, I headed up to the road to confirm my East-West orientation and then turned down into the grass to hit the control. Again, it was one of those time wasters.

12... oh dear. Messy. I leave 11 and head slightly downhill, contouring. I landed on a very good path, which I thought was the one just above 12. Then - and this is the really silly part - I didn't have much to go by to indicate when I should leave the path, turn left and head for 12. So, I look up and see a telephone wire type setup overhead. Yay, I think. I look on my map and see the black line (the one 'running through' the tree - green circle). So, I run until I get under the lines and then think that I need just run a little more before turning off. And then, BAM, I hit an unexpected junction of paths.

Orienteers reading this will realise my error... The black line is a North-South line, not a power line! In fact, there were no powerlines indicated on the map at all. North-South lines are usually blue and because I had my map folded into a little square and my mind was apparently absent, I made such a stoopid mistake. Took me a while to realise what a moron I was!

When I got near 12 there were a bunch of people looking for it, too much to the West. I moved a little to the side and we nailed it.

Control 16
Looking at this same map above... 16 was a nightmare for many. The only saving grace was that I lost less time than some others from 15 to 16; 15 minutes for me, 28 for Piers, 29 for Tony, 26 for Cindy... It should have been an easy control but with grass higher than my eyeballs, it was really hard to find the control on a rock. And, I'll add that I think the control was in the wrong place, a little too high. You can see this from my track - where the track is and where the control is marked on the rocks indicated on the map. And, indeed, there were rocks where drawn on the map. I took a bit of a grid-search approach, walking through the grass in the surrounds to find the control. *sigh*

Control 18
My last 'nasty' was control 18 - and, again, it shouldn't have been. How many times do I have to learn not to trust a soul and not to listen to a word they say?

So, Tony and I leave 17. He's just ahead of me. We bash through the bushes, trying to keep in semi-open ground. We hit the path and I look left, expecting to see a cliff there, which I do. We run up to it. The control was indicated as being at the top of the cliff. As we get there Wiehan comes running from the top of the cliff, on to the path and says he's been looking for it but hasn't found it.

So, I think that I've bloopsed and that I ended up higher on the path that I thought and that I should have turned right on to the path, not left. I'm also checking the vegetation and thinking that maybe we're too much in the open. So, we all head down the path and into the more green vegetation. I find another rocky cliff and head into the bushes to check on top of it. I get tangled in thorn trees and have to fight my way out. I get back on to the path thinking that it must be at the first cliff just as Tony arrives to confirm this. Wiehan must have passed within a metre of it and just hadn't seen it.

I ran 10km and it took me *sigh* just over two hours. Sarah Pope won the Brown course for ladies in 1:44 ;)

Orienteering 1, Lisa 0.

This is what keeps me coming back to orienteering after 12 years in this sport... ;)

So, weekend of the 18 and 19 June is Gauteng Orienteering Champs with middle distance on the Sat and long distance (my favourite) on the Sunday. Unfortunately we've only had one colour-coded event to get into the groove, which I'm evidently not in yet! I best keep my thinking cap on for the next week and a bit to get my mind in the right frame.

Thursday, 16 June is a public holiday. The juniors are hosting a night event at Wits on Thursday night. That's going to be fun running around campus at night. It's a fundraiser for the Junior World Champs. And Jeremy, who has been orienteering in France - with varying degrees of success (blog posts with photos and videos of running in snow on RSA Orienteers blog) - is hosting a fundraising event for the National O Team at Golden Harvest Park (near the Dome/Northgate) from noon on Thursday. It includes an 'ad hoc' relay, which should be fun.

No comments: