Sheffield Garmin Ultrasprint

Top Seeds Exit the LabyrinthI caught an early train up to Sheffield yesterday, for the Garmin Ultrasprint, that SYO were organising as part of the “Cliffhanger” outdoor activities festival. The event promised the famous “labyrinth” and I was intrigued to see how I would fare.

The map consisted of two 1:1000 sections, of the labyrinth, which were visited at the start and end of the course. In between, there was a 1:2500 section through the rest of the park – and the various other festival stands.

The qualifiers were started with four runners at a time, completing slightly different courses. I ran my heat in 11:44, missing out on qualifying for the A final by around 70 seconds. I made quite a few mistakes. Most of them were very small mistakes, but every second counts for race of this type. My biggest mistake was getting caught at an out-of-bounds area and having to go round the long way – wasting perhaps 50 seconds. The course was pretty intense – 32 controls in 1.5km.

The B final still had some interest for me, as there was a still a prize for 1st place. Again, four people were started at once. This time, the controls were the same, but four different butterflies, each with two “wings”, separated the runners, on the 2.4km, 46 control course. The central controls of each butterfly were dead, working around the 35 control limit of v5 SI cards, such as my own.

My run, in around 18 minutes, was “steady” but not fast enough – the winner took just over 14 minutes – an impressive time. I didn’t make any big mistakes this time. I was somewhat sluggish on the longer running sections, but there’s no way I could have made up four minutes.

The Ultrasprint is an exciting format – definitely spectator-friendly orienteering. I was thinking on the way back home of possible venues for race that SLOW might be able to put on one day – perhaps in conjunction with a borough council’s outdoor activities show, to get the specators in. My current pipe-dream thinking is Potters Fields Park, by London’s City Hall, with the labyrinth on the grassy area and the long section on the plaza in front of the More London complex.

[Update – My report for Nopesport is here.]

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