Here’s some of my favourite trail runs I’ve done or would like to do shortly.
Monthly Archives: January 2006
Mat Dickinson has now posted a couple of short podcasts at OS Now, which I guess makes him the world’s
first second orienteer podcasting about the sport. Nice one! Now all he needs is a decent jingle at the beginning
[Update - Sero mentions in the comments that Orienteering Orange has been podcasting for a few months now. Most of the episodes are in English, some are in Italian.]
Oh, blimey. What went right on this race? Not a lot. I better start with the positives – lovely crisp weather, technical and enjoyable area, and my recent training means I can definitely run faster and for longer, without completely running out of energy. And the distance (almost 13km) was not a problem – I only felt really tired in a couple of places.
Now the bad. I made mistake after mistake after mistake. Probably the most number of mistakes I have ever made on an orienteering event. It wasn’t that it was very technical – it was a tricky area and the map was not perfect – quite a few non-existent clearings around – it was just that I made bad route choices, lost concentration, and made huge navigational errors all the way along. I know bad workmen blame their tools, but I’m pretty sure my compass was stuffed. Maybe it was that large “Emit” brick I had to carry around. And the scale was 1:15000, smaller than normal, but due to my relatively increased fitness, I overcompensated and overshot a lot. I think the main cause was I was running quite fast, thanks to my recent training – too fast, in fact, for me to navigate accurately and properly. Which kind of leaves me in a quandary as regards further physical training. I think I need to take up Armchair Orienteering in a big way and keep the mind sharp.
The first control was bad. I somehow missed an obvious path, and was 30 degrees wrong, and overshot. No. 2, I again headed 30 degrees wrong, meeting control 24. But I at least spiked it. Towards number 6, I felt a little tired, and a branch spiked my eye – could have been really nasty, but my contact lens dropped out and I spent a couple of minutes fixing that. Towards number 8, my feet started cramping again (as two weeks ago) so I stopped straight away this time and relaced loosely. 10 was a bingo control and I failed to notice a good route choice. 11 was a massive error of judgement – to lose a runner, I decided to go down a road (failing to spot a much better road route), mistaked a ride for a path, got stuck in a marsh, ran back down a hill and back up again. Aaargh!
No. 14 was a complete disaster, it should have been trival, but it was a very technical control and I some how ended up on the wrong path and had to do a relocation. 20 was a poor route choice. I was feeling (technically) lazy and took a long but easy route around, adding 600m to the leg by failing to spot a direct and obvious path, and then missing the (technical) control. And 22 was a complete nightmare and my worst leg of all (8 minutes for 400m!) I again drifted 30 degrees off, ending up way beyond the control, cold and very confused. I had a complete brain block, was unable to navigate and relocate, and just freaked out. Eventually I got some self control back and managed a relocation. I really hope I never have a control like that again. Looking at the leg, it was not particularly technical at all – lots of line features.
Special mention of control 19, it wins Location of the Year for being in an utterly surreal place – in white (runnable forest) but the forest was completely pitch black, with nothing on the ground except needles – like a table. And the control was in the middle, glowing eerily in the darkness. It was like something out of Lord of the Rings, and was truly magical.
Overall a truly fine area. Just a shame I had such a bad race on it.
1 – Poor pacing/scale awareness
2 – Navigational error
6 – Fatigue
8 – Hesitation
10 – Bingo control
11 – Poor route choice
14 – Poor attack point
17 – Poor route choice
20 – Poor route choice
22 – Navigational error
25 – Hesitation
26 – Navigational error
I’ve only mentioned the biggest mistake on each leg, on some of these legs I made just about every possible kind of mistake! Incidentally I may start using just the AP’s own mistake analysis for future races.
After a long run on Sunday I did some post-run analysis, and found an excellent site, GMap-Pedometer, that harnesses the power of Google Maps and also USGS altitude information. Basically, you click on the map to draw a trail showing where you went, and it adds up the distance, throwing in mile/km markers and other nice things. Even better, the USGS altitude information means you get a complete profile of your run, so you can tell how much you climbed too. (Despite the website stating it’s only available in the US, it works just fine in most of the UK too – although the data can be quite inaccurate.) No more poring over OS Landranger maps trying to count the contours, or getting out a piece of string to try and measure the trail distance. Here’s the route I did.
Also, I drew a special “course” showing a Cross-Scotland walk that I’ve been meaning to do since 1997 but have still not got around to, largely due to lack of time and/or volunteers. The Great Outdoor Challenge is an organised walking challenge with a similar idea, and provided some inspiration for my original plans. The nice thing about the walk is you only cross 2 major roads, in 9 days and 130 miles of walking. (N.B. The GMap Pedometer trail of this route will take a little while to load, as it’s a very long trail.)
In case you are curious, the route would have been/will be:
Day 1 – Fort William to Corrour
Day 2 – Corrour to Ben Alder Cottage
Day 3 – Ben Alder Cottage to Dalwhinnie
Day 4 – Dalwhinnie to Glen Feshie (crossing the A9)
Day 5 – Glen Feshie to Linn of Dee
Day 6 – Linn of Dee to Braemar (“rest day” – 9km walking.)
Day 7 – Braemar to Glen Doll (crossing the A93, also the highest point of the route – 910m. Sadly, the Glen Doll YH is no more.)
Day 8 – Glen Doll to Bridgend
Day 9 – Bridgend to Montrose
There could be an extension out west (as Loch Linnhe is a sea loch, but not the “open sea”) and also a “high level” route that would be similar in distance and location, but climb Scotland’s highest Munros.
I do like the look of the new “Ski Weather” dashboard widget that came with the Mac OS X 10.4.4 upgrade released last week. And yes, it does cover the Scottish ski resorts too.
Of course, this being the Scottish ski scene, there isn’t actually any snow yet…
Cross posted from Attackpoint
Overcast, but not too cold today. This should have been an area I did well on – reasonably technical and flat – but I made too many mistakes, and also cramped up. The area was full of paths and differing vegetation – in fact it was quite difficult to read the map in places. Or maybe my eyesight’s just getting worse…
I got off to a good start running hard as I had another runner right behind me. Unfortunately I was running too fast to read the map properly, and so towards No. 6 I thought I was on a parallel track, so wasted a few seconds looking for a non-existent feature… 6-7 was a long leg – over 1km. My feet started to cramp up badly here which was very painful. This is not something that has happened before, and may be a combination of running hard in my cheap backup shoes (my regular ones were still covered in mud from Eridge) and tieing up the shoes too tight. From 7 to 8, I stopped for a clear 3 minutes to redo the laces and try and get rid of the cramp – it worked, but I had lost a lot of time by that point.
Control 11 was tricky, planted very low in a small ditch – a bit of a bingo control. For 12, I made a map-reading mistake and somehow ended up on the wrong side of a lake, and for 13, I got stuck in a thicket. Then followed a number of mistakes due to tiredness and poor route choice. None of these mistakes cost me more than a minute each, but they all add up… The worst one was at 19, where I first came out east when I meant to go north; then didn’t aim off, turning away in the wrong direction from my “attack point.” Finally, the 460m, slightly uphill run-in was a bit of a killer.
All in all, really not good a race at all. I much preferred the mud-bath at Eridge last week, although few would agree. Next event, I’ll use my proper O-shoes, tie them loosely and try and get a proper meal before the race!
Simon Evans had a storming run and came in in 59:38. He beat me on every leg bar one. One to watch this season.
6 – Parallel error
7 – Hesitation (foot cramp)
8 – Hesitation (foot cramp)
12 – Poor map reading
13 – Unanticipated hazard
14 – Fatigue
17 – Poor route choice
19 – Poor navigation, poor attack point
I received a couple of excellent cartography-themed books this Christmas:
Mapping Hacks (referral) is an O’Reilly book and is right up my street – I had it high on my wish list. Although unfortunately it was published just before the Google Maps API was made available and everyone when Google Maps Mashup crazy, it nevertheless contains a great pile of neat, computer-based GIS and mapping tricks, and background information – such as how to convert between the various coordinate systems, plot the “great circle” on a flat map, and even how to publish your own geodata to the internet for others to use. Note though that some of the tips are PC only, and some are only useful in the US, due to the vast amount of geographic information available for free on the internet from the US Military and US government. Sadly, the UK is a bit behind in opening up its GIS data, so another US military website, GNS is where I’ve sourced a list of coordinates for UK features for playing with one of the hacks. The book has a website (or rather, the latter spawned the former.)
You Are Here (referral) was an unexpected, but similarly essential present. The book is described as “Personal geographies and other maps of the imagination” – think of it as a glossy art book – but entirely composed oa maps, old and new. The presentation is top-quality and the “artwork” is simply beautiful. Daniel Wallingford’s A New Yorker’s View of the United States (c. 1939) reminds me a lot of a more contempory map I saw once of “The UK, according to Londoners” which has Great London occupying most of southern England, and “icebergs and floes” somewhere up in Scotland – the roads stop at Jocks Lodge somewhere in Northern England, and beyond, Here Be Dragons. Similarly in Wallingford’s piece, Staten Island is just north of Florida, and the state of Hollywood (capital, LA) is just south of California – which is itself dwarfed by the state of San Francisco.
Interesting discussion (page 2) on NopeSport – disclaimer: I’ve contributed to the discussion – at the moment about the fixtures list for UK orienteering, and a general desire for it to be more comprehensive and incorporating more Web 2.0 functionality (e.g. RSS, Google Map API with maybe a bit of AJAX, Location-based service.) I’m bursting with ideas but they are all quite time consuming to implement.
Attackpoint, the best training/logging website for orienteers in the world, as had a makeover. I like.
Attackpoint needs more UK orienteers on it, logging their training*/races – it’s the kind of site that works best when many similar people are on it. With more UK orienteers, there would be more UK events posted on the website, more chance of being able to compare splits from a UK race…
*lazy person that I am, my training is entirely made up of races at the moment.
Eridge Park is a rather nice, grand old county estate in East Sussex, comprising a large central deer park (fast, featureless, open) surrounded by several areas of complex, quite steep woodland. Or, at least, it would have been rather nice if it hadn’t rained continously throughout the course. I ran M21S, mainly because the 11.7km M21L sounded like a little much after Christmas excess. But, despite the rain and the mud (and wow, there was so much mud!) I got around the course pretty well – 5 mistakes in the first 7 controls, then none for the remaining 14, and got a pleasantly good time. I really didn’t push myself though, and got the end with enough energy for at least another couple of km. A pleasureable post-race afternoon was spent out of the wind and rain in a local pub by Eridge station, where the usual post-race analysis, splits games and real ale drinking was carried out with fellow JOKers and SLOWies. I’ve now got to spend the next three weeks doing some serious training for a national event at the end of the month at Cold Ash, for which I’ve foolishly entered Long without knowing the course distance.
2 – (Very) poor route choice
3 – Navigation error followed by parallel error
4 – Unanticipated hazard (tricky felling)
6 – Unanticipated hazard (steep slopes + green + mud)
7 – Navigation error, poor pacing, possibly poor mapping.
The extract shows controls 2, 3 and 4, all of which I messed up. I took a very poor route choice to No. 2, which involved a roundabout route across various streams followed by a big climb – if I had studied the map, there was a much more obvious route which involved a short climb followed by an easy jog along a path. No. 3 was really daft of me – I came out of the control heading due east, and in the easy terrain, kept going straight instead of swinging around. I then made a parallel error by mistaking a fork in the stream, and headed up it – almost to No. 4. And 3 to 4 was made difficult by felling extending lower than marked, plus it was extremely slippy in the mud and the rain. My compass and map were both caked in mud by this point.