After missing the Wendover event two weeks ago I was determined to make this, last Sunday, only a few miles from the former. Great Hampden has a reputation for being “green” (ie. lots of undergrowth) and with the event taking place in June, I was expecting something physical. The longer courses took the runners through a very hard, physical section, before running the rest of the race through flat, relatively level forest. Not realising this myself, I was exhausted within 20 minutes, but was able to keep going well in the latter stages, to end up with a not-too-embarrasing time.
Oxford UOC were out in force (as it was the Town vs Gown event) and also the Great Britain Women’s Squad turned up. I don’t think the organisers were expecting this, but it made for some excellent times to aim for on the Brown and Blue courses. I ran Blue myself, in retrospect I could have run Brown, as the extra 3km was in the very flat section and I probably wouldn’t have noticed it much.
I had one really big mistake, on the third leg (see extract.) Instead of dropping down the steep, green valley (like most other people) or climbing up and over, I unwisely tried to contour round the steep slopes. This proved to be painful and exhausting, and slow going, and I bashed my head on a hidden branch stump, half-way along. This was pretty concerning (it was bleeding a lot) and I took time out to stem the flow. After I recovered from that though it was relatively plain sailing. I do now however have a nice “Harry Potter” gash on my forehead and must have looked a state on the train back!
Result: 73:49 for 6.5km, 125m climb (11.2 mins/km.) The slow mins/km was entirely due to the disasterous leg expained above. Despite this I finished well near the top of the results list, and I’m quite pleased about this.
Having turned up here on a Sunday back in January, only to (later) realise that the event had been the previous day, I was determined to get back ot this promising looking country park for its next orienteering event. So last Wednesday I disappeared early from work to compete here in a local event.
Weald Park really is gorgeous to look at on a nice day (the evening sun shining through some of the ancient woodland was simply beautiful to behold) and I seriously believe that it would be able to host a World Park Race and show itself off in style. You could have the finish arena to end all finish arenas here. Sadly it’s a small area, and not technical, but ideal for a Blue colour coded course (5.7 km) which is what I did. Large parts of the park are gently rolling, short grassland, across which you can sprint like lightning.
Result: 47:08 for 5.7km, 125m climbing (8.3 mins/km.) I’m quite happy with this result, seeing as I hadn’t done any orienteering for six weeks before this.
Lake District maps are always full of technical and physical goodness, and Graythwaite – the area for the JK International event this Easter, was no exception. However the course planning for M21S was uninspired (especially on the first day, where we effectively visited all parts of the map except the really interesting section in the middle) and my bad knee played up badly after the first day, causing me to bail out mid-way through the second day. The long walk back to the finish was rather traumatic too. However the finish arena and assembly field was dramatic and beautiful and with the weather being nice too, it was great to laze around after the race.
I made some right stinkers/tools/technical mistakes on the first day – one was from 8 to 9 (see right.) For some reason I decided to contour, rather than go straight or drop down the slope to the east. There were many spurs and reentrants on the route which made this course painful, and I ended up a little lower than I thought. The 9th control was (I think) closer to the edge of the level area than the map appeared, and I eneded up running right past the control, just above it, at least three times (at one point, relocating right to the large fence/track junction beyond.)
In all, not a true classic like Bigland, but still an area to show off what the Lake District was all about.