Tuesday, 3 July 2012

The Harvester 2012 (Orienteering)

What is the Harvester?

The Harvester is an Orienteering relay that is held overnight. Teams (typically) consist of either 5 or 7 members with each leg being of a different length or difficulty.

This year the British Army (BAOC) were hosting the Harvester down in Borden near Guilford. So we cobbled together a team of 5 and headed off to show those southerners what we were made of.

So how did it go?

After a long drive down we arrived at the Army Barracks and setup the tents. As we weren’t starting until 2am we all headed out to find a local pub and get some much needed sustenance inside us. Some of us had more than others but it was two for one (on a Saturday night) you can’t beat that.

Back at the tent some of us bedded down. I wasn’t running until the last leg this year so I expected to be heading out sometime after 7am. I didn’t expect to get much sleep but got more than I expected.

Start time: 2:00am

During the night I woke and could hear Melody rustling around. She told me that Stephen (Leg 2 runner) had just headed to the start to wait for Kevan (our leg 1 runner). I woke a little later to hear rustling and expecting it to be Wendy (our leg 3 runner) but it was again Melody. We started to discuss if Kevan was back or if he’d gone straight to bed when he arrived. It turned out that during his run the battery on his headtorch failed so he had to resort to a hand torch, then he got a groin sprain on top of that struggled massively on on of the controls.

Leg 1 (8.25km) complete: 2hr 15mins 55sec

By this point the sun was already above the horizon and as I was now awake I headed to the start with Melody. Stephen came through the radio control (denoting about 1500m left to run) and Melody went into the changeover area. Stephen seemed to have had a good run in comparison to Kevan.

Leg 2 (6.14km) complete: 1hr 33min 16sec

Melody headed off and I expected she would take around an hour to complete her leg so after a brief chat with Stephen we headed back to the tent to wake Wendy.Back at the start with Wendy we waited for Melody and the organisers were talking about mass start times for 7:45. Stephen arrived at the start all changed but was more concerned as to why the breakfast caravan hadn’t arrived.

After an hour an a half, Melody still wasn’t back and I needed to dash back to the tent to get my compass ready for the mini mass start. I expected Wendy would have been off by the time I returned however we both ended up in the mass start.

Mini Mass start: 7:45am

Wendy and I headed out of the start area and opened our maps. it took me a few moments to get my head into the map but before long there was a steady line of people running across the first field. I didn’t really struggle with any one control that caused me any major delays however I had a couple of small hiccups that could shouldn’t have happened.

  • I over shot on control 3 along with about 2 other people who were also hunting around for the same control.
  • I took too long to start running through the nettles at control 4 because I was only wearing 3/4 leggings so spent time looking for another way through. I’m not shy of nettles, there were just quite a few of them.
  • I took the slightly longer route to control 5 to avoid stopping to read the map.
  • A moments hesitation on the way to control 7 lost me about 30 secs stood reading the map.
  • Again I opted for a long route on the longer leg to 12 instead of navigating the warren of paths through the wood, then I overshot the control and was drawn in bay another that I KNEW whilst heading to check it wasn’t the one I wanted.

On the way to control 18 I caught up to Wendy and we did controls 19 and 20 pretty much together. Passing a SYO runner looking for her control as I nipped into my 21 she stopped me when I exited to confirm her location. Glad to help I did and headed for my last control and the finish.

I’d made it to the finish ahead of Wendy and went to check the results to see Melodys time however it wasn’t on the sheet so I checked at the download station. Melody was back thankfully and all controls complete. Shortly after I finished, although a little longer than I expected, Wendy finished.

Leg 3 (4.77km) complete: 2hr 56min 28sec 
Leg 5 (8.25km) complete: 1hr 24min 38sec
Leg 4 (6.1km) complete: 1hr 32min 42sec

A couple of us had planned to do the Level D event afterwards however Kevan had a groin strain, Stephen had already ruled it out and had a sore knee, Melody had probably been out long enough, Wendy was all up for it and I had a tight hamstring (with the SLMM coming this weekend I didn’t want to push it) so overall we decided to pack up and head home.

To our surprise we were not last. There actually existed a team that was slower than us and on studying the results a little more we were only 1min 29sec behind the team in from of us so a slightly better result was in our grasp.

On the whole the event was a resounding success for us. We didn’t get disqualified like last year and the team spirit was excellent!! Bring on next years event and hopefully we might be able to get more people to come along.


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