Esher Commons SLOW Regional Event, 27 November

Esher Commons extractThis is the annual “OK Nuts” Trophy event organised by SLOW, my home club, with the planner and organiser both JOKers (i.e. from JOK, my second club.) So I had no excuse not to turn up. Plus it was inside the M25 and was London’s finest area that I had never been to – I think.

Also special about this event, and the reason why I again ran up on the M21L course, was that this years “special feature” (there always is one for OK Nuts ) was the inclusion of a “Micro-O” course.

(I’ll write more about the Micro-O in a seperate post.)

Esher is a large map, made up of several commons, bisected unfortunately by the A3 and another busy road, and some housing – otherwise it would be a very fine area indeed. Oxshott Heath is very technical, but a bit brambly, while Esher North, the MicroO area, also has some excellently technical areas. “West End” is faster and simpler, with a (very) steep slope down to Winterdown Wood for the finish. A nice mix and an enjoyable area, although not quite as unique as Epping Forest last week.

No. 1 was immediately into a technical area, full of pits, but was straightforward, as was 2, 3 (2-3 a plod along tracks), and 4. 5 was my first mistake, I got slightly disorientated in a maze of paths and brambles and spent a while searching in the wrong area for the control – a 1 minute error. 6, 7 and 8 were OK, 9 again was made more difficult by the brambles and maze of paths. 10 was my only really big error. A long leg, I somehow drifted to the east near the end and ended heading up 90 degrees in the wrong direction, and needed to double back. Maybe a 2 minute mistake here. 11 was a plod, 12, 13 and 14 were straightforward (and nice.) 15-19 were the MicroO controls, I’ll say more about them in another blog entry. 20 was another track plod but I was so “spaced out”/disorientated by MicroO and the map scale change I actually missed the great big track initially. Scary stuff. 21 was OK although I oddly exited this control nearly 180 degrees in the wrong direction (WTF?!). 22 was a dog-leg, 23 was good, 24 was nice too (I climbed up and stayed high.) 25 was a rather exciting plunge down a very steep bank. Some people hurled themselves off this like lemmings, but I climbed down carefully. 26 and 27 were on a trail, and then – the sting in the tail – 28 was a long, difficult leg with plenty of route choice. I was very tired by the point, and stayed low – too low, almost running off my map, as most other competitors had a “Sprint O” section here. But I got lucky, finding a path through some wet, green terrain.

5: Poor map-reading.
10: Poor navigation/poor route-choice.
18: Hesitation.
28: Hesitation.

All in all, a pretty clear run – a world away from last Sunday’s race. Crucially, I didn’t run out of energy after 6km or so, but was able to maintain a good pace the whole way around. Maybe my much slower pace in the MicroO helped me a lot to recover for the final 3km. Conditions were good – still very cold, but clear, and most importantly dry underfoot. I did however twist my ankle twice (again – I twisted it twice last Sunday too) causing me to tread carefully for a couple of legs – 4 and 25. It’s slightly concerning that I keep doing this, as it’s bound to be putting a lot of stress on the ligaments.

My time was 80:36 for the 10.4km, 225m course. I thought that was a really good time initially, but Esher is really, really fast – I finished 52nd of 92 runners, my lack of mistakes in the MicroO gaining me three places, but my relative slowness in that section (I was 66th out of 92 in terms of time only for the MicroO) probably cost me another four…

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