This was probably the closest orienteering event to me, being based in central London. Hampstead Heath is known as the “green” lung of London and despite its location near the heart of the city, it easily large enough for a District event.
This being my first race of the season, and it being the morning after a late night before, I was planning to run down two classes. I spotted my club captain at the registration tent however and so hastily decided to run just one class down. Unfortuantely he heard me say this and insisted I ran in the top class. 8.4km on the back of no training (the “summer recess”) since Sweden in July. Aargh! I felt very out of fitness and indeed all but gave up half way around, having been part of a back of relatively fast runners, including the aforementioned captain, for several legs. However I perservered and got around in the end. The heath is huge and varied, with open parkland, lakes and dense woodland, with a maze of paths. A bit of a treat to be so nearby, and it can hold its own to many of the other London-centric areas nearby. At 210m, my course managed to pack a lot of climbing in for southern England.
My main mistake was at number 12, where I got confused by the patchwork terrain and myriad paths, the noise of the roads above and the uneven settlement around me. I dropped maybe 6-7 minutes here. 12 is in the extract at the bottom left, I approached along the road to the north of the settlement area, coming around to the right much too late, having curved around to the left too much and going into an intricate “hollow”, just to the south of the extract, too deep.
After my fast start and exhausting middle, it was a battle to get around before the course closed. I made it with seconds to spare in the end, having considerably upped my pace for the last 25%, so much so that I found the hill climb at the end a real killer, and my legs have badly stiffened up the following day. But the weather was fine and it was a nice start to hopefully a long and injury free season. Missing 10 mins/km by a matter of a few seconds was very annoying though.
Brown course, 8.4km, 210m climb, 84:42 (2/3rds down the field.)