Wednesday 3 January 2024

Big 5 O Week: Day 5

 The last day of the Big 5 O Week (  and Big 5 O Week on FB)  took place in my home town of George. With this event being in my back yard, event director Nicholas Mulder asked if I would be the controller for the event.

Every event has a course planner and a controller, where the controller is there to cast an eye over the courses, give it a second look and suggest any improvements, if needed. As this was a sprint event with World Ranking, we also had Paul Wimberley as the WRE advisor.

Being in such esteemed company, there was not much that I had to do in an official 'controller' capacity as both Nic and Paul are leagues ahead of be in course planning experience.

What I did assist with was organising marshals for the road crossing and to keep an eye on the control flags in the public section of park, and also putting out the control flags and timing blocks with Paul.

As soon as we were done with Day 4's event, Paul and I headed back to George. We started putting out the controls in the Botanical Gardens, which is a safe, fenced property with no chance of our flags going walkies overnight. For the public accessible areas in the forest and park, we put out only the metal stakes. We did this between 5pm and 7pm and unless you know where to look and know what you are looking for, the stakes are not very visible. With 68 controls out there for this event, it takes time to get them all in.

We were up at the crack of dawn on the morning of Day 5 to get the flags and timing blocks out. We were done with this by 7am. Paul then did a quick run through the Botanical Gardens to check that everything was still in place. 

My friends who volunteered to marshal were absolute gems. Etienne arrived early and he was tasked with keeping an eye on the flags at the bottom of the park, which would be the most at risk between the time of being put out and the first runners coming through. Johann stood at a washout section that would be more difficult for the older participants to cross. Zelda, Talita and my mom Liz were at the road crossing, stopping cars to let the participants run across without losing time. The participants so appreciated all of them and were very complimentary. Thank you friends.

The weather was overcast with low cloud the whole day so the participants did not get to see the beauty of George with the mountains keeping an eye on the event area.

This is what Paul and I saw on Tuesday afternoon while putting out controls in the Garden Route Botanical Gardens. There was not a mountain or forest to be seen on Wednesday.

As soon as the last runners were through, we started picking up control flags in the park. With help from Etienne and Michelle, we quickly cleared the park and made it to the finish in the middle of prize giving.

I was delighted to hear that I won the age category that I competed in - W35. We got together for a photo.

Stephanie (left, 3rd) was one of the organisers, putting a huge amount of work into the social functions, trophies, prizes and a host of important elements. Jacori (right, 2nd) from Cape Town beat me on Day 3 with a cleaner run. I was only just ahead of her on Day 4. 

This has been a wonderful week. Exciting news is that SA Champs is down this way in late September, using these new maps. This will be more Plett side, using the Day 1, 2 and 4 maps. It would be well worth going through to the Western Cape Champs in Cape Town - this is probably in late April or there abouts.

Now that we have a superb map in George and excellent maps nearby - plus a number of orienteers now living in the surrounding area - between The Crags, Plett and George, it is about time that I got organised to run some navigation training sessions and then a local event or two. We have an old Saasveld map that I can update and a few fabulous schools that would make for good venues. 

Three cheers for more orienteering in 2024. I am very, very thankful that Big 5 O came down here this year. The next one will be end of 2025 in the Cradle of Mankind area on the highveld.

No comments: