A new (for me) area in the always lovely Epping Forest, and the start right beside a London Underground station meaning I could get a lie in and do a morning race. The weather was crisp and sunny, but incredibly cold, with some frost on the ground – ideal for orienteering as long as you run fast so as not to freeze.
After spying a bunch of people I know from OUOC running M21L, I decided to “run up” to that course too. The 10.8km course was 50% longer to what I’m used to at the moment, and it showed in my times. In the graph below, my race was the green line, and I kept pretty much level with Ian and Huzzah (Pete) for the first half of the course. A succession of three mistakes at 13, 14 and 15 left me exhausted and I was never really able to maintain the earlier pace after that.
The first part of the course took the M21L runners (only!) into a large, “green” area that was tough to navigate through. Leg 1 was long and, if you weren’t used to the green, tiring. A failed attempt at cutting off a path corner by attempting to go through a green patch meant that I had a slow time to No. 2. The next few were straightforward, but long runs on paths, before the race become more technical. After all the green, I decided to around the path from 6 to 7, rather than through a weak ride – even though my route was 30% longer. No. 7 was technical and I became confused in the maze of paths. No. 8 was in a very vague patch of woods, but 9-12 were fine. 12-13 was long, and I stupidly decided to head north to a path, instead of direct through the very easy woods. I changed my mind before hitting the path, but crosse a stream above a fork, thinking I had crossed below – so miscounted my streams on this leg and spent ages one stream to early, wondering why everyone else was running past without stopping. A real nightmare. And No. 14 was a bingo control in low visibility woodland. If your compass-work wasn’t spot on, you missed it – which I did. But this is what orienteering is all about. I always make big mistakes on Epping Forest maps, and this was no exception – but that’s why I like the area so much (plus the fact it is flat.)
I also messed up No. 15, arriving at 16 before it. 16 was a dead control – I bet I got the fastest split to it as I had been to it before but we’ll never know ;-). 17-22 were OK, but I was really starting to slow my normal pace here, as the course length started to take its toll. I got lucky on 21 though – a (real) minefield but I struck the control straight on, purely by luck. 22-23 I was really tired now, and took a lazy (and long) route around on paths, whereas most sensible people went straight, on easy gorun. 24-25 was similar to 6-7, and this time I did take the plunge through the green – it wasn’t too bad at all, although I was losing concentration by this point and messed up 25 (a technical one) by being distracted by anthoer control. 26 was OK (an old bomb site, apparently) but even on the last control – 27 – I overshot, again being distracted by another control. I normally assume/hope the last few controls in a race are easy, but there was no let up here.
All in all, a very technical race, after a physical start, Epping once again managing to fool and disorientate me.
A real litany of mistakes:
No. 2: Poor route choice/poor navigation/impassible terrain.
No. 7: Poor route choice/poor navigation.
No. 8: Poor mapping.
No. 13: Poor map-reading.
No. 14: Poor navigation/bingo control.
No. 15: Poor navigation.
No. 23: Exhaustion.
No. 25: Fatigue.
No. 27: Poor map-reading/fatigue.
I need to get better if I’m going to stay running long.
My time, for the 10.8km/145m climb M21L course was 94:35. Today was a Long course, last Sunday was a Short, but very different areas. I actually finished today’s course in less time than yesterday’s, and also beat 9 mpk which is always nice. But I was 18th out of 24 runners, with most runners just ahead of me. If I had only had a bit more energy…
M21L Point-by-point analysis on Splitsbrowser. Green: Me. Yellow and Red: Ian and Huzzah.