Lakes 5 Days Orienteering 2014
Every year in Britain there’s a European International event that brings lots of the Scandinavians over to race in Orienteering, their national sport. Every 4 years Wales and the Lakes gets its chance to host competitions with over a thousand Orienteers each day. Since becoming an aficionado since 2007 Ive been doing a yearly big competition, this has included the Swedish ‘O-ringen’ 5 days events, 3 Scottish 6 days, the night Finnish ‘Jukola’ and that leaves the craziest ‘Tio Mila’(Ten Miler) night relay event to do. The Lakeland and Welsh events fit in with the Scottish Calendar, which hosts the Scottish 6 days every 2 years, the backbone of the British International Orienteering schedule. Next year 2015 theres the World Orienteering champs in Scotland the same time as the 6 days, which will be a massive televised festival based in Inverness, cant wait to compete in that. All the local clubs to the area get involved with planning, organising and running the week, which takes months of preparation. As with the New Forest locally, theres huge pressure on these recreation areas which means careful management. Last week there was also a funny Warrior event at same time, which really should have been called weekend warrior event where city folk were being shouted at by military types to complete a run in the hills, but I digress. This week was co-ordinated by the clubs of the North West Orienteering Association, well done to them for great co-ordination.
You may have seen my last blog about the C2C well this week was to be based at a friends who lives in Rusland, where author of ‘Swallows and Amazons’ Arthur Ransome is buried, and also the home of Carol McNeill one of the most long term and committed international U.K Orienteers, who also won this years W65 competition. I had ridden there from Ravenglass over 2 days, a trip with some moments worth recalling of a biblical rain type nature, but then this is the English Lakes- they have to keep them full somehow… I was to cycle to days 2,3,5 and take a car ride to days 1 and 4- the Mountain days in Pike O Blisco and Swindale, on the bike smallish distances that gave me a rest from cycle touring! There were around 1, 500 competitors a day for this event, my own age class of M40 one of only 3 that were able to run the longest of the 17 courses available, a bit like cycling the womens courses are all shorter? Not sure why but it was M21, M35, M40 on Course 1 all week, me being at the upper end of that age group at 43. There were 128 of us entered in total. Some stats first, if you don’t like stats skip to the races reports- Including the walks to starts my courses without any extra distance due to errors were in K.M 14, 6.6, 7.7, 12, 12 that’s 52 KM or 31 miles and the course climbs in the hills of the Lakes were 510, 195, 375, 800, 525 total 2, 405 metres. Mountain country.
The Races:- Day 1 Swindale. A fearsome 10 K distance , pulses of rain, in the squally soaking terrain on a high plateau alongside Shap Fell. A mapping style of 2 colours:- white open and blue bog which didn’t entirely match the areas of contour locality. Difficult 5 metres on spot features that challenged me to the limit, alongside the incessant serious weather conditions. Happy to get down off the hill but happier to have finished even if I was turning hypothermic after 4 hours outside.
Day 2. Simpson Ground . Superb earth features and lot of deep bog surrounding the central reservoir were the character of this day 2. Some satisfying control picking either side of treacherous bog trotting which cost me time again. Better conditions although wet from the start among the hidden overhanging mixture of white runnable and green ‘fight’ forest.
Day 3 . Grizedale Forest. Heaven of a day, sunshine and spectacular views from above the centre of Lakeland Mountain Biking. Passing the hire centre where 150 bikes a make up the hire fleet that explore the forest fire trails daily. My best day so far with only major error in the middle of one section. Again an overhanging indiscernible variety of forest I was crawling through on hands and knees most of the time. First day of the 5 where there were trail route choice options that I made the most of, but no let up, with a chunky 375 climb through a looping course using the whole map area. Fantastic event, really hard in a really hard area of the Grizedale forest.
Day 4. Pike Of Blisco. The daddy of the week, a huge valley start with that daunting feel that only true Mountain country can give. 400 meters climb to get to the start which would have challenged the average walker to the hilt. Then we ran. We faced a map entirely comprised of white open screen, blag crag, moraine and rock features. Less bog than day 1 mountain day but deep streams and superb valley sights below. Army jets were training in the valleys, the same size as the Red Arrows, banking and turning below our crazy control- finding game on the plateau above. Rewarding to be lucky enough to be there, yet again my right ankle, taped as always collapses in the tussocky surface… I struggle along until the pain subsides, then after some lovely moments in flow- my favourite type of moment when you can spot a distant feature with a huge space between you and it and RUN to it, I go over again, just after dibbing a control. Now comes the real pain –and emotion flooding over me, stupid, but this is serious terrain. Determinedly, I hobble along more reserved until day 4 is complete. Blagging an ice pack from the first aid tent Im advised to ‘stick it int’ beck’ which gives me a little lift at the end of a hard day.
Day 5. Hampsfell. A week in Lakeland hills completed by today in limestone pavement terrain, a superbly technical mix of open fell and white open forest map. Tactically I took an early start due to weather I loved the open interspersed with grey rock slabs. I was making the pace up the time of a deluge in the trees, in some of the most complex terrain Ive ever seen. Concertedly not falling over again, I persevere until the end. Again not fast, but I finished the entire week of 112 controls located accurately for my rewards.
Week Results:-I was 26/37 over all 5 events bottom quarter of the field, but, only 12 of the higher placed runners also completed all 5 days without mis-punch or error. Great week. Bring on Scotland 6 days 2015.
If you made it this far youll probably like one last pic- over Waterloo Bridge, with an Antler I picked up on day 3 in Grizedale, have often wondered why despite hundreds of runs in wild forests Ive never found antlers, so had to keep this one. Its the best ‘stay back motorists’ sticker I ever made. So thats it, a week on C2C and a week in the lakes with a nice train ride back to London and Dorzet. Thats what i call a holiday.