Day 4, Allt Cailleach
This was part of the Royal Balmoral Estate, and the M21S course first involved a monster 4.1km walk (!) to the start. It was easy to see why this was necessary though, after studying the map, due to the shape and location of the most technical parts. As I was running the short course, the course route basically went in a straight-ish line right back to the start. Today was the day however that I made the most number of mistakes – most of these, apart from one, were small, but most also were stupid mistakes (what was I thinking?! type mistakes) rather than “worthy” ones.
I actually arrived to the start, after a 50 minute walk, with about 10 seconds to spare, so for once, there was no time to warm up. This was a shame, because the first leg (as you can see from the above extract) was a real killer – pick up your map, turn left and climb 60 metres vertical in just 150 metres horizontal. Needless to say, I walked this, as did most people. Leg 2 was OK – I was a little slow, there was an Italian guy just below me being distracting. Leg 3 was interesting – I went straight up the cliff, overshot slightly but kind of knew I’d done this so didn’t waste any time above the cliffs. The control was in a delightful location above the main forest. Other people I talked to instead went left, bypassing the cliffs. There doesn’t seem to have been much advantaged either way.
Nearly everyone except me seems to have spent a very long time finding 4. I was lucky as I just followed the veg boundary around and basically ran onto the control, actually expecting it to be 100m further away (so – very lucky!) Five was just down a hill – again fine here for me but others made mistakes. My first big mistake of the Day was number 6 – an easy control, but in ankle-breaking marshy terrain. A similar knoll just north caused me to pause an mistakenly double back, wasting 2 minutes in the end. 7 was fine – a long leg, some went around but I think straight was OK too. An out of bounds section confused some – but I was OK – to 8. 9 was my second mistake, I stopped short of the control for too long – wasting 1 minute. Realisation of my mistake distracted me and I made a really stupid one to 10 – I went off wrong, but then decided to ignore a direct, straight path to the control and double back, trying to get back on my originally intended route, and getting stuck in deep grass, wasting another 2.
11, 12 were fine, although the line of “plodders” to 12 really annoyed me. All longer courses were forced along this narrow strip due to course constraints, but it was very annoying having plodders blocking the way. Yes, I know orienteering is suppoosed to be inclusive and all, but why bother entering a competitive event, if you are just going to walk the whole way around? Why not just go hillwalking or rambing or something! This again annoyed me, and I therefore immediately made my biggest mistake of all, to control 13, the one that allowed Tony (who had started 4 minutes behind me) to catch up and stay with me for the remainder fo the course. I took a lazy route onto the spur, which meant I wasn’t sure how far along the spur I was. I hesitated, then went away from another control, which was (and I don’t think this is in the spirit of the competition) placed only a few metres away from the control I was looking for. I had to do a formal relocation off a track lower down, and come back into the control, number 13. Five minutes wasted here. 14 was only 150m further away but I still wasted one more minute here, by overshooting the control, missing it by 2 metres up (it was hidden below a bank) and then having to come back. 15, 16 and 17 were simple enough although 15-16 was treacherous underfoot. All in all, not a great run, peppered by lots of small mistakes, and this proved to be my second non-counting day.
Day 5, Bogendreip
I haven’t had a fautless run for years, but here, finally, it was. I had been dreading this area – it was right beside Glen Dye, the only area I had been on before the six days – and I vaguely remember a physically tough, very marshy area. It was not to be – the course led up well around a marsh, then gradually up a hill – just gradual enough for me to run it – a lot of other people walked it which made a difference I think. It was an area of quite dense forest and not many ground features, such that if you made a mistake, it would take a long time to relocate. So I’m thankful I didn’t! The extract shows the nicest part of my course, as we come down into a pleasant wooded glade. The short leg shown was one of my best splits of the six days. The course then went steeply up hill to another “bingo” control that I thankfully spiked, before hurtling down straight-forwardly to the finish. By the time I got to the high bit, I knew I was on course for a great run, so I put on even more speed, so much so that I didn’t have enough energy for a traditional sprint finish. A good thing perhaps as the finish route led along a busy road and down a steep bank.
My best day of the six days – equal best speed with Day 3, and best on points. Day 3 I felt was my best run though – I was lucky here.