Oxshott Heath SLOW Local Event, 11 July

Not wanting to lose my recently-acquired fitness from the Lithuanian races, I headed down to Esher in Surrey after work on Tuesday, on another hot (although cooler than Lithuania!) and muggy day, for a SLOW evening event. I’ve been on Oxshott Heath before, it is part of the larger Esher map. The race was in November and I remember the Oxshott Heath part being quite overgrown and brambly. So, I was a bit nervous of it’s quality in July. Thankfully the planner had been careful to avoid the worst of the scrub. The course was just 3.7km but with 16 controls – a real middle-distance sprint.

Everyone was started off at one minute intervals, and went steaming down a long track. So, inevitably, I did the same. Two minutes later, I realised I had massively overshot the first control, which had been a mere 100m away from this start. For the next 13 controls, I was running hard, able to practice good control flow technique – I could punch and leave the control site in the correct direction, without stopping running. It felt great being able to run flat out, at a much faster pace than normal. A poor bit of navigation and a bit of risk taking, though, meant I made a 1 minute mistake at 6, but it was a big blunder at No. 14 that cost me a good run – this was a long leg through a lot of bracken, I went round – then got confused by the path network and intricate contours. I ended up being led to the control by the next runner. I sprinted the rest of the race – particularly as I saw Simon E just behind. As he’d started 3 minutes later, he’d won anyway – but I went for it all the same. I ended up 8th out of 40 runners, with Simon 4th, Paul 10th and Pete 12th.

I had made suprisingly many mistakes – but then maybe I under-estimated this British terrain after the technical feast of Lithuania. Looking forward to plenty more middle distance races though – these seem to be my best orienteering discipline.

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