Tuesday, 27 March 2018

Glossop MDOC Orienteering event

The MDOC orienteering events always guarantee a good run, a great test of navigation and equal amounts of fun. So when I heard there was one happening in Manor Park, Glossop, it was a done deal that I'd enter. Taking place on Saturday 24th March the organisers timed it to start after parkrun.

So after a very early start to see Tim off for the 4 Inns race (3.45am alarm!) I got myself across to Manor Park and ran parkrun. Some good socialising with fellow parkrunners and Glossopdale Harriers filled in the 45mins or so until we could start the orienteering course.

Myself, Emma and John all opted for the long course, which would take us out of Manor Park but not by much. It'd been a while since I've done an orienteering event, so my first few check points (CPs) were slower than they should have been. The O-maps never show names and while beautifully drawn, the colours and symbols are different to the usual OS maps I use so it took me a while to sync back into reading things at speed. There's also the scale difference at just 1:5,000 whereas I'm used to 1:25k.

I was the first of us three to set off, and with 3 other courses in the park all following different routes I made sure not to get drawn into following anyone. Do your own nav, trust only yourself.

CPs 1 and 2 in the park were quickly followed by our first CPs out of the park. Down High Street East and I'm onto CP3 quickly, then a long leg (though still only about 400m) to CP4. I could soon see that Emma was not too far behind me. My promise to just have a relaxed run around the course soon turned into 'you're being chased, don't slow down' mode!!  I contemplated just letting her catch me but each time I thought she had me, she disappeared as I pushed on to the next CP.  I was thinking my local knowledge might be helping a little too - o-events are so much smoother if you recognise where you need to get to and just head off without needing to do the micro-nav, especially urban ones.

CP5 and 6 ticked off then round to CP7 - then a long drag uphill to CP8. Surely Emma would catch me on that leg? Nope. I'm dibbing and away as she rounds the corner. By now I'm in O-mode - seeing where the CP after the next one is and route planning as I move. As I left CP8 I knew my route to CP9 so could just run run run. A small uphill road allowed me to plan CP9 to 10, then back into Manor Park.

Quite muddy in places
The great thing about o-events is that there are numerous people all running around clutching maps - lots of hello's and smiles as you pass each other. On this event there were several times where you nipped to get a CP then doubled back....all to the bemusement of non-runners who clearly were wondering what the heck all these people were doing!

Back in Manor Park and CPs 11 through 16 are ticked off. Turn the map over for the remainder of the course all within the confines of the park, but taking you to each far corner. Lots of doubling back, lots of double checking I'd got to the correct CP. I found the numbering of them really confusing. On the map I was going for say, CP17, which on the ground was #103. So I was having to remember two numbers in my head....and then be thinking of the next CP and related two numbers....

By the 20th CP I was quite number fatigued...and still had Emma chasing me down. She was quicker than me from CP21 to 22...and down the steep muddy bank to CP23. I was still in her wake at CP24 and up (past the start/finish area) to CP25 where we took slightly different route, popping out at the CP only just behind her. Emma made a slight nav error setting off in the wrong direction and allowing me to catch her up....and then she paused to recheck her map for CP26 but I know where it was....I overtake....down to the far side of the kids playground and it's just the run in to the finish.
Emma and I at the finish
(despite the banner in the background!)

So much for my easy run round the course. Emma literally dibs right behind me on the final CP and I'm sprinting to the finish....no way is she getting me now. A moot point given she set off after me so is most likely going to get a quicker finish time anyway. But, it's good to push after 6km of running around dibbing CPs (and after parkrun) and it made Emma work hard for the last bit too!!

Great fun. Had Emma not been right behind me my time would have been a good chunk longer. As it was, I was pushed and managed to come 2nd Glossopdale Harrier and 5th overall in the event. Quite probably my highest ever placing!!

Apologies for the lack of photos. If you haven't gathered, I was hot-footing it around with Emma chasing!!

Provisional results here.

Monday, 5 March 2018

Snow Adventure

It's fair to say we have had a bit of weather over the last week or so. Snow. Wind. Gales. More Snow. Much more Wind. It was so cold and windy that going outside to the bin seemed like an epic adventure on some days. So quite frankly I hibernated a little.

But, with some brighter weather I got out and did a short 5km run and a 6km walk on Friday last week. On Saturday I ran the route of Glossop parkrun - the event itself was cancelled but knowing I needed to get out and run but didn't want to get any height meant the parkrun route was perfect for an easy outing. Kahtoola spikes were most definitely needed and I have never run in my massive down mitts before - they too were necessary in the biting wind.

The weather was brighter by Saturday lunchtime so I got some kit together and headed out in search of a drift I could dig a snowhole in. I had an Alpkit brewkit and some hot chocolate packed too. It wasn't necessary to walk far - in fact I could have dug a hole in the field behind our garden but I wanted a little more of a local adventure so I headed up Lightside....drifts a plenty there!  After a brief look around I settle on my drift and got too with the digging.

It was around 2ft in that it dawned on my I have no knowledge of the best way to dig a hole. Given this one was only needed for a short time I didn't worry too much, but vowed to look up/ask about how to dig a hole if you need to sleep in it.

There comes a point in digging a hole that you need to get into it to dig further...steamed up glasses, snow falling down my neck and a while later I have a hole big enough to get into.

I deemed the sensible thing, given the hole wasn't all that big, was to brew up outside, then duck in to sit a while and savour my well earned hot choc.

Enjoy the photos....I had a great time and was only a couple of kilometres from home!

New Chew Orienteering Fell Race

The first of the Glossopdale Harriers Fell Champs races was the New Chew Short Score held a few weeks ago. It's a 3.5hr orienteering race from Dovestone Reservoir Sailing Club, and put on by Saddleworth Runners. I ran this race on my own some years ago and knew the area they covered was massive. I was mentally prepared, and this year had fellow club mate Lucy joining me to wander around the course with.

The race didn't disappoint - the biggest area possible was on offer with the potential to get as far out at Holme Moss mast - so I folded the map in half and pretty much ignored the whole eastern half! It was way too big an area for us. Weather was looking decent - clear visibility at the start but a chilly temperature and some snow up on the high ground.

This year there were no check points (CPs) north of the A635 Holmfirth Road so we headed out eastwards to pick up our first CP - 'B' just off the Chew Road. After a decent slog up the road we picked a point to head up the steep slope - it was really steep too, proper grabbing on heather and hoping it held steep! Our nav was spot on and we soon located the CP under a big bouldery crag.

Quite a lot of the CPs were looking to be placed in gnarly nav territory so we picked one we would be confident finding without too much bog bashing. The path by the side of Chew Reservoir was really icy and hard to get any sort of pace going. Heading east over Laddow Moss the path was less clear than I'd hoped. I've never been that way before and imagined it to be a motorway sized path given the areas it connects. The snow patches and innumerable groughs didn't help and we kept losing the path.

I turned to see where we'd come from and noticed the clag coming in. Bugger. Compass out, checked the bearing down a couple of groughs and picked the one most nicely heading where we were going. We eventually got the boundary line, and the fence. Nav choice here...and never being here before I took the safe option to continue south-east on the path to the edge over Crowden Great Brook - right past the marshal point. Then turn south along the edge path before contouring round and into CP 'I' up Oaken Clough.

Nav was spot on and luckily we bumped into a mate who knows the area really well - so I checked if the boundary line had a fence on it all the way south and sure enough it does....great. We navved back heading north west to the fence then followed it back to the stile we'd crossed earlier.  We'd been out 1hr 45 at this point so decided to get back to Chew Reservoir and decide what to do from there.

Nav back westwards was good, recognising bits of the path we'd been on. The decision then was either CP 'C' + CP'A' or just 'A'.  The frozen toes and lack of vis high up made us decide on just 'A'.  'C' would have been a decent and focused challenge and just getting 'A' was good for us.

Down the track we went....toes warming up a little on the way. We didn't pick the easiest of terrain to reach 'A' but it was the foolproof way - handrailing along the obvious wall to the far corner. It included some massive grass tuffs and slimy soggy wetness in between. Not fast going, but the best choice if the clag was down. As it was we weren't pushed for time - we were going to be back well under the 3.5hrs so it didn't matter.

With CP 'A' clipped we ran off the hill and back to the finish at the sailing club. We were almost the first ones back so I grabbed a quick shower and then we settled in to wait for Tim to return. Pie and gravy followed by delicious cakes and tea were well received in the warmth as other runners finished. Tim came in looking quite tired having pushed way out east, but he managed to grab top spot on the short score course. Myself and Lucy were a little lower down the finish table, but not last and no points lost!

A grand adventure on the hills was had, thanks to the marshals over at Laddow and Saddleworth Runners for putting on a great race. Thanks too to the team at the sailing club for sorting results quickly and providing a plentiful supply of food and drinks.