O-Ringen 2004: Stage 1, Partilleetappen (19 Jul)

So, on to the real races. I was running H21-2 throughtout the week. H21 was the most popular of all the courses and so was split into H21-1 and H21-2 – almost everyone else on the tour with me was also doing H21-2 (there’s also H21SE, H21E, H21N, H21M and H21K!) This first day was my worst day actually, although not nearly as bad as my highly traumatic first day in France. Indeed, the troubles today were all of my own making. It was also the wettest of the five days.

O-Ringen 2004 Etapp 1Out of just 12 controls on the 7.33km course I managed to stuff up 5 controls, wasting over 5 minutes on four of them. A combination of parallel errors, unfamiliarity with the 1:15000 and sheer recklessness meant I took around 105 minutes to finish the course, well done on most others in JOK, the club I was running with (and a good group to compare with – after all, none of us – Nick Barrable excepted – were ever going to be able to compete with “the Scandies” on level terms.

Annoyingly, the first mistake, to No. 3, was on a 150m leg. I was distracted by the large number of people passing just to the left of the control, and also (I have to say) the map was slightly vague too. The control was hidden in quite dense undergrowth just to the south of where I spent five minutes looking. Even with an obvious line feature just 50m beyond, I still struggled.

I was very pleased with the next couple of legs, and even caught up the fast Jon Marsden. A little too pleased in fact, I comprehensively blew the leg to No. 6, failed to notice a stream was 90 degrees to what it should have been, and got myself in a frightful mess. Even a full scale relocation didn’t help and I only hit an obvious feature that I could follow by luck. The leg is shown the extract here. The next leg again should have been straightforward (this was not a particularly technical area, exccept near the end) and I again veered to the right and wasted a lot of time. I didn’t aim off going to No. 9 and again went right, just missing the control on my left. And No. 10 was just horrendous – I was looking for the control far short of where I should have been. It was near the end of the race and I had lost contact with the map, again being distracted by the large number of people around. I only found the control while on the way to relocate at pylons.

At least the finish was dramatic. The O-Ringen organisers really know how to build one hell of a finish. There were masses of people watching and a huge run-in lane, below a balcony containing commentators, TV cameras and a giant clock.

Overall, not the best start to the five days, it could only get better on the following days and thankfully it did.

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