British Orienteering Championships (relay & TrailO)

British Orienteering Championships (relay & TrailO)

On the last weekend of March, I did the relay and TrailO races of British Orienteering Championships.

Saturday

The long championship race and a British TrailO League race were held on Saturday. I didn’t join the long race because I didn’t have the ability to run an M21 course in the long race, and I only did the TrailO race afterwards.

The TrailO race was held in Highfield & Brookham Schools, Liphook, which was within walking distance from Liphook railway station. I bought a set of cheap tickets which allowed me to go to Guildford via Woking, and return via Liphook and Havant afterwards, and went swimming in Guildford Lido in the morning.

The race was in PreO format with 18 controls, with an additional speed section at the beginning with 3 controls for tie-breaking purpose. The first half of the race was very easy and could be done with beginner-level map reading, as the features could easily be seen and identified without trouble. It was only in the second half the difficulty started to increase, where some advanced techniques and compass bearings were required to give confidence in identifying the correct locations.

I completed the race, in both the main course and speed section, without a single mistake (4 competitors got all correct in the main course, with 2 in the 4 got all correct in the speed section), and being the fastest to complete the speed section I won the race on Saturday.

Sunday

I joined a relay team in my club, WSX Wanderers, so I did both the relay and TrailO championships.

The relay was held in Liphook, next to the TrailO arena on Saturday, however, the TrailO championship was held in Bordon, about 8 km away as the crow flies from the FootO arena. The transport totally failed me here as the first departure on a Sunday was too late for me to get to the relay arena, and the only bus route between Liphook and Bordon didn’t run on Sundays. I failed to share a car with anyone as there was no one else in my club who was going for both relay and TrailO, and those going for the relay weren’t on the route for me to share a car. As a result I had to hire a car and drive it on my own, which cost a lot.

My team, and all 4 teams of my club, were in mixed ad-hoc category which I ran the 2nd leg. However, it took a really long time before our first runner returned and I had to return before before the mass start in order to avoid ranking below everyone else.

Towards the end of the race, as the scheduled mass start time approached, I started to take risky route choices and ran faster than usual with the aim to squeeze every minute out to make the handover happen before the mass start, like running across a marsh directly. However, once under pressure I made mistakes and I ran into the marsh instead of across it and only got stopped by the river.

And I was also misled by the vegetation towards the end, but I still got to the handover before the mass start deadline. My team finished the 17th in the race, with all 4 teams in my club completed the race without fault.

After the relay race, I got changed and drove through narrow country roads to do the TrailO championship.

This race was much harder than the Saturday’s race. And after getting full marks after Saturday, I was hoping to get another good result to compare myself to the British team, therefore I was under pressure to perform.

The race started with time controls. In the main course, there were some problems that were so hard that I spent much time in handling them, and in just after half the race I mispunched a box! I punched in a wrong box leading to AZ punched in control 12, losing a point for that control! I immediately lost patience and could no longer get back to a race mind, and just wanted to get over the race as soon as possible.

The result I got was disappointing, scored 17/20 with 97 seconds in time controls, placing 16/30 (just below the median). Getting to 18 points would bring me to 8/30, and 19 points for 6/30, which most British national team members got. 2 competitors got full marks as well. The 3 mistakes I made were the mispunch made and 2 controls beforehand, where I misidentified the features on the map. I didn’t make any mistakes after the mispunch and my mind went wrong though.

The next TrailO races for me will be in the JK, and I hope I can get better results then this.

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