Saturday, 5 February 2011

Street Orienteering

Once the dark nights draw in the head torch running begins and with it the Street Orienteering (Street-O). Hosted by South Ribble Orienteering Club (SROC) the events normally take place every couple of weeks from November to March.

The idea with Street-O is that you get a control sheet, when you register, listing controls such as LP (Lampposts), TP (Telegraph Poles), GB (Green  Boxes) or other types of street furniture including telephone numbers on the front of shops or maybe the number garages on a house, Sample Street-O mapbut as yet you don’t know the location of these items. Each control is worth 10,20,30,40,50 or 60 points (normally).

It’s worth pointing out that a street-O map contains very little detail in comparison to a normal O type map. The Street O map contains no contour lines and doesn’t always show wooded areas or open land. It basically shows Roads and footpaths/tracks and controls are marks on with a red dot which should be accurately placed at the correct point and the correct side of the street to allow you to find, for example, the correct lamppost number.

Once you start the map is given to you. You now have up to 75 mins to visit as many control sites, in any order, as you can ensuring that you return WITHIN your chosen time frame to avoid penalties. Penalties are accrued at something like 1 point lost for every 2 SECONDS you are late, so if you are 2 1/2 minutes over you will lose 75 of your hard earned points, but if you come back in too early you have wasted your valuable minutes that could have been spent getting that extra 50 point control.

I think it involves quick thinking and route planning plus good time management. I normally find that running along the roads/pavements is pretty boring but when doing this the time flies by. I also think that I run harder too with all the stopping to note controls on the sheet and route planning. I find the speed I run between controls feels faster than if I had run the same route continually. Ultimately I feel pretty tired by the end of the 75 minutes.

If anybody has a spare evening and heads out occasionally for a road run, then I would recommend you try at least one, especially at the bargain price of £2. Don’t forget to bring along a torch, pencil and reflective clothing.

Thursday, 3 February 2011

Not blogged for ages

Chris reminded me today that I hadn’t blogged for ages. I had only reminded myself about that a few days ago so it was a bit of a co-incidence really. I’ve not really blogged much as I haven’t done much that (I thought) was worth writing about.

There has been quite a bit of Orienteering on the cards of late though and the smaller Orienteering events are normally pretty much same old same old to write about even if running in them is another matter altogether. With Orienteering I find it far better browsing your routes and looking at your split times Routegadget showing dotsthan writing about each event and this can be done using Routegadget. This is a great little tool that allows competitors to draw the route they took at an event and then compare (up to 10 at a time) their route to others that have drawn theirs.

I also joined the committee for SELOC and took on the SELOC and NWOA websites which has also taken up a little of my time over these past few months.

Once the dark nights draw in the head torch running begins. It started with some Wednesday night runs with Lostock AC over Winter hill but then the Street-Orienteering (Street-O) started (normally every two weeks)  which runs until the start of march. Also there are 5 Night Orienteering events held over the winter period which are typically (but not always) held in local country parks and take the normal daytime events that one step further. A good head torch is key for these events and I find them very challenging.

The beginning of this year has too been busy with O too as we had a regional level event at Watergrove (Near Rochdale) which attracted over 400 runners and despite a couple of hiccoughs on the day with the IT the event seemed to go OK (if not a little stressful at times). I was hoping to get out for a run but this didn’t happen. The weekend after saw another busy time as we also had a Day and Night event on at Haigh Hall. The day event being an easier event to try and attract some new potential members and the night being the final event of the Night League calendar. Again, a couple of little issues but on the whole I think they were a success.

I have managed the odd Fell race too. The Dave Staff race was a cold one but it’s always a nice race and very fresh. I had also planned to enter Whinberry Naze Fell Race on Boxing day and intended to go in Fancy dress but by the time the day came I still had no fancy dress so just did the event as a runner (boring!). A good turn out with the snow and ice on the ground which made for some tiring running on the way up but I collected my Smarties from Santa and then made my way back. Then off home to fill up on more Xmas food.

Although there’s a shortage of Fell races under the belt of the last couple of months I have managed a few of LDWA events too. Back in October Chris, Lisa and I entered the Bottoms Up (Short route) which took us around Houghton Bottoms and the outskirts of Blackburn. Then a couple of weeks later Chris, Albert and I entered the John Knox Challenge in Staffordshire. December brought the Christmas Charity Walk which is a 12 mile route from Wigan Rugby Union Club going round Redrock, Worthington Lakes, Blackrod and Haigh Hall.

The Future

So what are my plans for this year. Well I want the emphasis to be on increasing my distance and trying to lose some more weight (including the Xmas podge). The beginning of the year has already been taken up with Orienteering which has consumed quite a bit of my time, especially the Haigh day event in which I had agreed to plan the courses for the event and have also taken on the role of map printer.

But February starts to bring in the Fell races and LDWA events too. This coming weekend I am entered in the BRITISH night orienteering championships in Atherstone. I don’t expect to do well but I’ll give it a go and set the benchmark for next year. The Winter Hill Fell Race follows the weekend after which I have been hoping to enter for about 2 years now (I did offer to marshal but as yet am not needed). The weekend after Winter Hill is the Beacon Bash (LDWA) event. This (bash) is a 22 mile only event travelling around Ashurst Beacon and Parbold but I’m not sure about making the distance but will give it a go.

Further forward I have plans to enter the Two Crosses (LDWA) event again, this time on the longer route and I am considering the Anniversary Waltz although I haven’t been to the Lakes in ages, in fact I think the Borrowdale Fell Race was the last time I was there, which is another race I want to enter this year but actually complete it this time. There is also the Harvester Relays (orienteering) that I wouldn’t mind entering to. These involve a team competing over several night legs (I believe). Ben Nevis - My entry has already been sent off for the Ben Nevis Race again, this is an epic race and I hope I get in again.

I was thinking to myself the other day about making a few trips to the lakes soon, but was quickly drawn back by the fact that with fuel prices increasing as they have been doing, travelling anywhere is just getting too expensive. It cost my £87 to fill the car the other day.