Sunday post on Tuesday for a change, rare to cover a solo run detail however I’ve been meaning to cover a few topics within a running post for while so here we go. One of the 30 something areas of the New Forest that’s mapped for Orienteering this Sunday saw me in Parkhill Inclosure ,if you’re belting up the A337 north from Brockenhurst the area immediately on youre right. Near to Denny lodge which is my single most favourite area of the forest we competed in deep old growth New Forest of the highest quality, more about that later. Cursory look at the results shows there were 595 competitors on the day for those that see flag chasing as a minority sport, one event from hundreds across the country. Okay what was the run like? After greeting my 30 club competitors first off is to imbibe the caffeine concentration gel that I like for getting mentally sharp half an hour before race time, exactly three hours after the porridge fuel breakfast. Orientating myself around the start box and watching a few runners on my course go off helps to set the scene. Knowing from the off what direction I’m going in aids a smooth start and I pick up the map start running uphill immediately into the soft stuff, shortly after making my first punch without difficulty- I’m off! 1-2 chose a close line option along another ride which wasn’t necessarily going to be best however the surface was solid and running good, up a slope with a minor error lost about a minute here to second. 2-3 revealed deep messy boggy sphagnum areas in between close shrubbery and a big stream, still at this point there are other runners around on the shorter courses, ignoring skills coming into play here. 3-4-5-6 Fairly easy legs with a direct north route firstly then divert East.6-7 I’m head to head with a TVOC runner, well on pace here top ten in overall splits. 7-8 I’m taking the direct line route choice over the planners temptations of using rides and tracks, like nearly my whole race, it’s all on the compass direction through mature forest. 8-9-Messed me up with close proximity of controls although I’m not bothered by errors here and the chimps aren’t killing me for going wrong, mistakes happen regularly to even Elites it’s how we manage them that counts.9-10 there’s lots of small streams to jump, I’m on the periphery of the map now, no- one else around in my dream playground. 10-11 Longest courses only visit the most distant controls and we are navigating here using earth features marked in brown between an overall white which indicates mature runnable forest- the best type of terrain in my view, perhaps only beaten by the fantastic forested sand dunes of Scotland again white with brown earth features.11-12 gives me a confidence kick as one runner leaves 11 and I ignore him convinced of my accuracy, I’m finding a copse of pines which is difficult with misleading green thickets nearby but I’m metres away from target when slowing to walk speed- satisfaction! 12-13 is now a downhill slope with distant visible fence line to aim off, this is where I’m in pure heaven. Mature growth oaks, beech, ash and wide open space around me solo running. This section I’m experiencing endorphins like other moments from life years before, flowing so well through the terrain the sunlight sparkling over the forest floor through the trees has me feeling rushes down through my shoulders and into my arms. My course is a Brown course, there’s something funny about seeing mates before and asking what are you on? (meaning what course) and them saying I’m doing a Blue, or Brown, I’m digressing here but if you relate you relate. We arrive from all over the place to do these events, drive through dirt tracks to assemble way off the road, then get into the running zone. No- other reason for this other than for our enjoyment, its recreation akin to other weekend recreation some of you may have been involved with in the late 1980’s. Born in 1971 I experienced the last big youth cult movement from 1988-1990, I leave it to you’re imaginations to make up the rest. Seems to me that while we all have responsibilities these days its reliving the best parts of life, freedom and enjoyment. When 2018 comes around soon and the Pearl celebrations 30 years of Acid House start there will be heaps of films about those party days, just hope I’m not caught in any footage… Where were we? Control 13-14 Also a section of pure enjoyment. 14-15 was the ‘hill’ of the map, a flat topped knoll with easy enough running. 15-16 running using clearings of yellow to pass through on my final sections, there was still furrow hopping to do, still bogs but I’m happily heading back now. 16-17 contained a deep earth feature which I went straight through as by the picture you can see what my feet looked like by now,
going around wouldn’t have helped. 17-18 Easy downslope leg then to the spectator control, (pictured) still energy in the tank I sprint to the finish in 12 seconds and punch out. Over the 8.8 KM I estimate 5 minutes of errors in total, ending up 22/ 44. Good day at the office and on reflection proof that when we bother to train, running regularly, the fitness takes care of itself and we have space in the brain to navigate. Come and join us at WSX it’s a great sport Maprunning.