O-Ringen 2004: Training, Landvetter Öster (18 Jul)

Landvetter physical legAfter arriving in Gothenburg on Saturday on a horribly early morning flight, and getting so lost on the way from the airport (always an embarrassment for any orienteer) that we ended up twice as far away from the city than we started, no one was really up for too much orienteering. But the following day was the last day before the O-Ringen proper, so we picked the most interesting training area and went for a “free run” on the map. Of course, everyone was fresh from running in the easy southern England forests, and the longest suggested circuit on the map (around 7km) looked a cinch. It actually turned out to be a harder and much more physical area than the competition areas, and the steady drizzle didn’t help for an easy circuit. A rather scary “bridge”, or rather, a submerged plank, across a large marsh, caused many to pause for a considerable time. I had to cut my own circuit short after running out of time.

Landvetter long legThe first extract here was typical of the first part of the course. Going from 2-6, the “green” marked proved very rough indeed and I had to give up and retreat at one point. The marshes were extremely wet, cold and unpleasant – in sharp contrast, the competition areas would prove to have good, fast marshes, but I was initially nervous of using them after today.

The second extract shows the longest leg, 16-17, and again a combination of bad luck and extremely poor route choice led to a daft route, running through rough and then getting stuck in a horrible marsh. Note that the extract shows a couple of shooting ranges (!) that I ran by. No signs as to their purpose and no key on the map, it was a good thing there was no shooting happening… The correct route on this one would have been to stay on the road, avoiding the rough open below the range, and swung around only much later. Also I should have perservered to find the bottom path in the green, rather that trying thrice to gain it from the north and giving up. I then tried to go through a “seasonal” marsh that looked OK, but got nastier and nastier – at one point there was seemingly uncrossable marsh 360 degrees around me.

A bit of a battle really. The 1:15000 map was the first I’d run on at that scale for a very long time, resulting in a lot of distance mis-estimation, on top of the physical difficulties. It all looked rather forbidding for the O-Ringen proper, with the Gothenburg forests appearing to live up to their reputation of being extremely physical, but I was to get a pleasant surprise later in the week.

Orienteering Events Log

Event: Richmond Park (Holly Lodge section) with Sheen Common (11 Jul)

Richmond ParkThis was the third leg in the Frolic summer series of events put on by London orienteering clubs, like the others the format was a 3km handicap race followed by a similar length sprint race. This was also my O-Ringen warm-up event (!) – hardly Sweden, in fact possibly the easiest area I’ve ever been on. Interestingly the winning speeds for the sprint race, which used the confusing Sheen Common only were slower than for the Frolic race, which used the fast, open parkland more. Ed Catmur won both incidently. My times were OK too – comfortably below my 8 min/km target speed.

There was nothing to get too excited about for the main Frolic race, although it is a scenic area as befits a Royal park – I passed a herd of deer on the way. One leg of interest is shown on the right – not because I made a mistake here, but because this leg afforded a good choice of routes. I went left, through the open forest, rather than following the paths here. The end of the race was a quick circuit of Sheen Common, a very green area.

Sheen CommonThe sprint race was more interesting. I didn’t realise, until picking up the map, that it was in the trickier Sheen common. The course was well designed and was a true sprint, with dead-level running, tight, close legs and enough on the map so that you had to keep your brain switched on. Every leg of mine was finished in under 60 seconds, except for an unfortunate (any mistake in a sprint is very unfortunate) error between 2 and 3 – see left – where I went east through the rough and then some how ended up in the marsh marked. It took a little while to extract myself from the vegetation. From there it was plain sailing to the end – the prior Frolic race helping with the layout, admittedly. I glimpsed Ed about half way around and so sprinted the rest of the way, but he was doing well under 5 mins/km and was never for the catching.


Coming Soon

I’m just back from the O-Ringen in Gothenburg. I’m catching up on some badly needed sleep first, but a write-up, pics and a per-day analysis are all to come shortly, along with an event log for the Richmond Park event (my O-Ringen warmup – !) and a provisional plan of what I’ll be doing for the orienteering season 2004-5.


Map of Maps

This is my big idea. BOF has been building up a national registration of club maps from around the country – but there exists no big “map of the maps.” I’m going to try and build one later this summer.

Orienteering Events Log

Event: Trent Park, Enfield (4 Jul)

Trent Park mapThis was the second Frolic event of the summer season, put on by LOK this time. Trent park surrounds Trent University and is a rather pleasant mix of parkland and rough open, with small pockets of forest to slow down the pace. Considering it’s July, the undergrowth was not too bad at all, and the weather was pleasantly cool and dry. Like last week, it’s not a technical area, and so not ideal “training” for the Oringen in just two weeks. Still, it’s good to get out of London’s heart and experience another new area. I took part in the 3km main race, caning it around and finishing in a great time (for me) but decided to sit out the following sprint race, as I was pretty tired already, and besides – they’d packed up the start!

Trent Park 9-10I suppose if I made any big mistake, it was going from No. 9 to 10 – I was right behind another competitor and because I really don’t like following, I decided to take a cunning (and more direct) route than going around on the paths. Unfortuantely the rough open was rough – it is July after all, and the other person gained 10 seconds on me here by whizzing around the path and then on an unmarked path.

Orienteering Events Log

Event: Pole Hill and Chingford Plain, Epping Forest (27 Jun)

Chingford Plain and Epping ForestI’m never one to skip a chance at orienteering, not only because it’s just a short train ride, but also because it’s one of southern England’s best orienteering areas – indeed parts of the forest feature in my top 10 of all UK areas.

So, last Sunday (the 27th of June) I went along for HAVOC’s Frolic event. This consisted of a 3km race, which everyone ran, followed by another 3km “extension” loop. The main race was on Pole Hill – a fast and easy, and decidedly non-technical area.. The extension – which was run following a short break after the main race, was through parts of Epping Forest itself. It was extremely flat (25m climb in the 3km) and there were large areas of green. However the lack of serious undergrowth, and the beauty of the area, made it a great run. My only mistake was a big one – for some reason I was convinced vandals had nicked Control 7, as it was clearly not where it should have been. It turns around that the map is a little, um, vague, here – the control was at a different path junction to the one it appeared to be on the map. I only realised this on continuing on my way (following 10 minutes of hunting) and spotting the blighter. Ah well. It was a lovely, hot day, but with a cool wind, and sunbathing was the order of the day following the event. My time was respectable for the main race, but with the one big error (and a couple of other really stupid ones) I finished well down the list for the extension race.

Results are here – I’m not quite sure why I got such a big handicap seeing as I am M21, but of course it means I finished higher up the results than I might have deserved.

Orienteering Events Log

Event: Great Hampden & Whiteleaf, Chiltern Hills

After missing the Wendover event two weeks ago I was determined to make this, last Sunday, only a few miles from the former. Great Hampden has a reputation for being “green” (ie. lots of undergrowth) and with the event taking place in June, I was expecting something physical. The longer courses took the runners through a very hard, physical section, before running the rest of the race through flat, relatively level forest. Not realising this myself, I was exhausted within 20 minutes, but was able to keep going well in the latter stages, to end up with a not-too-embarrasing time.

Oxford UOC were out in force (as it was the Town vs Gown event) and also the Great Britain Women’s Squad turned up. I don’t think the organisers were expecting this, but it made for some excellent times to aim for on the Brown and Blue courses. I ran Blue myself, in retrospect I could have run Brown, as the extra 3km was in the very flat section and I probably wouldn’t have noticed it much.

Great Hampden

I had one really big mistake, on the third leg (see extract.) Instead of dropping down the steep, green valley (like most other people) or climbing up and over, I unwisely tried to contour round the steep slopes. This proved to be painful and exhausting, and slow going, and I bashed my head on a hidden branch stump, half-way along. This was pretty concerning (it was bleeding a lot) and I took time out to stem the flow. After I recovered from that though it was relatively plain sailing. I do now however have a nice “Harry Potter” gash on my forehead and must have looked a state on the train back!

Result: 73:49 for 6.5km, 125m climb (11.2 mins/km.) The slow mins/km was entirely due to the disasterous leg expained above. Despite this I finished well near the top of the results list, and I’m quite pleased about this.

Orienteering Events Log

Event: Weald Park, Brentwood

Weald Park Kite

Having turned up here on a Sunday back in January, only to (later) realise that the event had been the previous day, I was determined to get back ot this promising looking country park for its next orienteering event. So last Wednesday I disappeared early from work to compete here in a local event.

Weald Park really is gorgeous to look at on a nice day (the evening sun shining through some of the ancient woodland was simply beautiful to behold) and I seriously believe that it would be able to host a World Park Race and show itself off in style. You could have the finish arena to end all finish arenas here. Sadly it’s a small area, and not technical, but ideal for a Blue colour coded course (5.7 km) which is what I did. Large parts of the park are gently rolling, short grassland, across which you can sprint like lightning.

Result: 47:08 for 5.7km, 125m climbing (8.3 mins/km.) I’m quite happy with this result, seeing as I hadn’t done any orienteering for six weeks before this.

Weald Park

Orienteering Events Log

Event: JK 2004, Graythwaite, The Lake District

JK Day 1 M21S 8-9Lake District maps are always full of technical and physical goodness, and Graythwaite – the area for the JK International event this Easter, was no exception. However the course planning for M21S was uninspired (especially on the first day, where we effectively visited all parts of the map except the really interesting section in the middle) and my bad knee played up badly after the first day, causing me to bail out mid-way through the second day. The long walk back to the finish was rather traumatic too. However the finish arena and assembly field was dramatic and beautiful and with the weather being nice too, it was great to laze around after the race.

I made some right stinkers/tools/technical mistakes on the first day – one was from 8 to 9 (see right.) For some reason I decided to contour, rather than go straight or drop down the slope to the east. There were many spurs and reentrants on the route which made this course painful, and I ended up a little lower than I thought. The 9th control was (I think) closer to the edge of the level area than the map appeared, and I eneded up running right past the control, just above it, at least three times (at one point, relocating right to the large fence/track junction beyond.)

In all, not a true classic like Bigland, but still an area to show off what the Lake District was all about.

JK Day 1 M21S End Section

WordPress and Yepsport

Yepsport is now on the WordPress CMS, having been on Movable Type up until now from when it was first started earlier this year. The key difference (other than the look) is that WordPress pages are generated on the fly for every view. WordPress also has a very active community right now, so expect lots of new and cool webloggy stuff to appear in the months ahead.

To celebrate, I’ll be posting a number of new articles in the next few days.

I think I’ve got everything just about right in the moving across process, but if you notice anything odd, or something that looks like it doesn’t work, please drop me an email at o.obrien (at)

My other weblog (Yablog) will be moved across shortly. NB. If you currently subscribe to Yesport’s RSS, XML or Atom feeds, you’ll need to change the link you use. Follow the links at the bottom of the panel on the right.