Day 1, Cambus O’May
I was helping out on this day, so I spent a couple of hours in the download tent, giving the splits and the good (or bad) news to runners coming in. This proved quite useful, as I noticed the times coming in for my course (M21S) were definitely on the long side considering the course was just 5km. This meant that later on, when I got my run in, I started off the first leg – which proved to be a very technical leg – very slowly. I spiked 1 and 2, beared off a little too far right to number 3, and spiked 4, 5 and 6 (although running down the edge of the map was disconcerting and confusing, causing me to slow right down. Number 7 was my big mistake. I did the first 95% of the course perfectly, then managed to get distracted by other runners and controls, and ended up too far left (i.e. south) around the control site. I almost did a formal relocation here, but worked it out after a few minutes of dithering. This was, however, my third worst mistake of the 6 days, and cost me 4 minutes.
Leg 8 was straightforward, as was 9 (very much a runners leg, and the big climb leg – I got a big advantage here by runnig late and so by being able to follow a runners’ path. I was a little low for 10 but was led into it by other runners. 11, 12, 13 and finally 14 were all straightfoward – I was lucky here as they were designed to be technical. There was even a nice view just before number 12. Finally, I got a killer run-in, being just one second outside of the class record for the day.
All in all, a much better than expected start – I was lucky to make just one significant mistake on a pretty technical area. The day finished with me being on litter duty for the car park field – what a rubbish job (ho ho) but a testament to clean and tidy orienteers is I found virtually no rubbish at all in the field. Considering 1500 cars were parked there, and there was only one litter bin on the entire site, that’s pretty good.
Day 2, Scolty
This was the only day were the assembly was a long walk away from the car parking, and was set in a wooded glade rather than an open field. It was also by far my worst day’s run. Leg 1 was the disaster and the worst mistake of the week – there was (I believe) a distinctive unmarked vegetation boundary which I confused for a marked one that was slightly lower down the slope. As a result, I spent 8 minutes (!!!) faffing around just high of the control, before doing a formal relocate on the road, spotting the “real” vegetation boundary and going back in. Four factors contributed to this monster mistake: (1) The higher boundary was not marked, (2) poor route choice as the terrain was very tough and going around on the paths would have been better, (3) I was adjusting from the 1:10000 map yesterday to a 1:15000 today and so my distance judgement was a bit off, and (4) Tony, my running guide for the week, was starting just two minutes behind me and I was nervous of him catching up.
Anyway, the net result of the 8 minute mistake was that I was exhausted for the rest of the race, which involved climbing a huge great hill and then sending us immediately back down again – I didn’t like this. If we have to climb such a big hill, it would have been nice to have had some short technical legs high up rather than coming straight down. The area was also, I thought, quite unpleasant with a lot of “green” and windblow, plus there was a frustrating middle section where we had to run back down the route to the start. Shortly after this point I got *very* confused and made another 4 minute mistake – my fourth worst of the week. Even the finish legs were nasty and uphill. Nothing worse than going uphill towards the finish.
Although the field struggled in generally today – slowest average times for the whole week – this was my worst day of all and the only day when I scored below the “average” runner.
Day 3, Glen Feardar
Yesterday’s fiasco meant I’d already used one of my two “bye” days (best four of the six days count) and made today’s race a little nervous. I needn’t of worried, today was much better, with terrain totally unlike the other five days. Due to permission constraints, the course involved some initial high forest work, followed by a stint over high moors, before plunging back into the forest and down a big hill to the finish. The area was much higher up that the other days, resulting in thinner, more pleasant forests, less vegetation on the ground, and a fresher feel to the whole area.
Leg 1 was fine – I was quite hesitant about this after yesterday’s nightmare on the first leg, and took this one really slowly. Leg 2 was great – I seem to have substantially beaten my peers on leg 2 for some reason – bascially I ran straight onto it. 3 was good too – I had a good attack point into 3. 3 to 4 was a real killer – a big steep climb followed by a long section through heather. I walked the steepest bit (who wouldn’t in M21s) and then found the strength to run through the heather at the top. I was with Tim (fellow JOKer) for much of the rest of the course and he provided a much needed impetus for me to keep running hard. 5 and 6 were on the summit of the moor – great views – and 7 was a long and intersting leg. I decided slightly late to swing around the top of the hill, rather than going straight – a good decision in the end. My only mistake was going into the wrong (parallel) valley for No 7 – again I was distracted by other runners and a nearby control. Still, it was only a 1 minute mistake. Staying high to number 8 was a bit silly – the views were amazing but it left me stuck on a steep spur, forcing me to hands and knees to get down. 9, 10, 11 and 12 were all straightforward spikes. 9 had potential for a big overshoot but I spotted features on the ground and spiked it.
All in all, a good, pleasant run. I knew I had had a good time when I came into the finish, and although today was the longest course, I had plenty of energy to have run an extra kilometre or two.
There was some talk (amongst the younger JOKers at the “youth” campsite) of tackling Lochnagar during the rest day – I had been down Glen Muick the previous day and it did look tempting. However, in the end, we were all lazy and slept in, finally making the long drive over the Lecht to Glenlivet, to do the distillery tour, sample (and buy) the product, and finally retire to the palatial mansion the older JOKers were staying in above the distillery. This was an experience itself, with about 6 reception rooms, a full bar, crystal glasses and ivory chess pieces. Such luxury!