This Easter Weekend saw 3000 orienteers flock to South Wales for a full on four days of intense orienteering. Duncan Birtwistle, Matt Whipple and myself headed over to participate in the Elite courses (who know's why!). Good Friday was the Sprint race at Swansea University which comprised of simple buildings and disorientating parkland. Neither Duncan or I did very well here with two miss punches and an asthma attack we saved ourselves for the next day's race!
Harry Butt of Sarum Orienteers races round Swansea University
That evening we traveled to our accommodation which was a caving society's bunk house equipped with a kitchen, dining/lounge area, bunks and outdoor toilets. Fortunately there was a lovely wood fire to keep us toasty! We were sharing with Sheffield and Oxford Universities so there was lots of catching up and comparing routes from the sprint to be done.
Abi Kerr dropping into the spectator checkpoint at Friday's Sprint Race
After an ok night's sleep and a hearty bowl of porridge it was off to Merthyr Common for the middle distance race. This was a beautiful, relatively flat area with technical swallow holes and pits to navigate. Checkpoints were as close as 50m apart and your compass was the only hope - you didn't know you were at the right hole until you were on top of it! Duncan had an interesting time finding number one as did I but we then stormed the rest of the course. I was pretty chuffed with my performance coming just over half way down the results list. Unfortunately Matt was held up by car parking so missed his start by twenty minutes which they added on to his final time....apparently that is the norm at world ranking events!
What on earth is Duncan doing? Pre-start before the JK Trophy relay, not really doing orienteering any favours
Back 'home' (now with Matt in tow) for some group cooking organised by Oxford - jacket potato, chilli con carne and cauliflower cheese :) Easter Sunday saw the long distance race on the other side of the road to Saturday, but believe it or not the area was surprisingly different with depressions as big as a house - 50m wide! The weather had turned cold, wet and windy so waterproofs were made compulsory much to our displeasure. Duncan and Matt had 17km where as I only had 10.6km. Duncan smashed his rivals in an impressive time of 105 minutes, however victory wasn't to be because he forgot to punch the control at the road crossing - when will he learn?! Matt and I trailed round, but at least our scores still counted! Full results can be found here
And they're off! Over 55 teams storm into the tough tussocky terrain. Can you spot Bristol?
The last day of the JK was beautiful sunshine and the arena overlooked the dramatic spoil heaps of Pwll Du. This was a glorious moment for UBOC as we had our first every JK relay team :D Of course I got conned into doing the Men's Premier JK Trophy and even the baby leg of 4.7km seemed daunting on sore, tired legs. Duncan on first leg dashed off into the distance ticking off control after control, meticulously checking his codes! He came back in 8th place - well now the pressure was really on me to do well.....uh oh. Full of adrenaline I hit the spoil heaps hitting one and two perfectly. I took a poor route choice to five which involved too many steep hills and slowed me down. By this time most of the speedy 2nd leg men had over taken me, but I carried on through the marshes and heather. At last the end was in sight and over to Matt for the final push. Matt did us proud by catching up a few places, making us the 27th team across the line :-)
Duncan Birtwistle, Abi Kerr and Matt Whipple doing Bristol University proud
Well done UBOC!