Into the wild.
12 Areas of the U.K have their own squads of competitive teams, this weekend saw 10 teams from all over Britain assemble in the South West to compete in the Junior Inter- Regional Champs:- JIRC’s. Amazing but true fact is that many of these youth groups travel all over Europe to race in forests, the oldest and most successful often asked to join in G.B squads, moving to Sweden or Finland to train with clubs there, and having the enviable position of competing for their home country Internationally. So a squad flew from Edinburgh to compete, also trips made from Wales and the North West. The age range here is 12- 18 so are capable of navigating around independently, marshalling tasks just allow some help if they are really misplaced. As the S/W will only host this competition once every 12 years it seemed timely to include a piece here.
We at WSX supply schools from Bournemouth and Poole with Orienteering activities, and host them at events. My most recent work for St Lukes Primary and Talbot combined schools, together with other Wessex coaches we have a range of excellent teachers engaging with us from various schools in Dorset. This friday just passed I attended Talbot Heath school for an introduction meeting, hoping that we can engage them into the sport with an activity series locally. (See Orienteering pictures) Ulverston school in the North-west have for many years been running activities in school, and their success in linking youngsters to clubs and the bigger competitive scene is evidenced by their large group this weekend, and the number of times North West appears on the trophies!
Its’ a treat for me to be able to assist in the event running, mainly marshalling by bike around both the Gore Heath forest area and Godshill in the New Forest, both areas I compete in, ride in and generally treat like my back garden. Day One in Gore Heath, which some of you will know as part of Wareham Forest, presently still high in bracken, and retaining all its intricate contour detail, multiple tracks that can confuse the best of us. Getting lost in there seems to be something plenty local Mountain Bikers enjoy. Race schedule is age categories against each other on various length courses, with a selection of fast runs, boys from Scotland seeming a little more comfortable direct line running through the toughest sand ridges, deep forest and boggy areas. Im happy exploring the forest again, with a bumper crop of Parasols and Fly Agaric mushrooms to choose carefully from for tea. Fastest 2 in the age groups combined to make the overall score for teams, which is added to the Day two results for overall. Photo- Wales race Scotland to the trig point.
Day Two on Godshill:- New Forest. Relays. This terrain is the opposite of deep forest, with the wide open heath interspersed with copses and bogs across the slopes. Skills here need to include locating pits and small earth features whilst travelling at speed across moorland spaces. Atmosphere of all the club tents and spectators provides an exciting set of mass starts for the teams, boys, girls and extra numbers given the chance to compete too. Each competitor of the same age receives a separate course on the same map, known as a gaffling system- so no- one can follow, even when they know friends of the same age. Did I mention Orienteering can be fearsomely technical?, glad I didn’t have to organise 200+ maps for specific individuals… A three person relay ensues, with hand overs made quicktime at assembly area where again runners have to open a brand new map- and complete a different course as fast as they can. Cow bells, vuvuzelas and whistles encourage the hand overs and those on the last leg finish run ins, good contrast to the solitude of the open country beyond. So fantastic competition, amongst the following things that were going on in the vicinity:- Ringwood time trials, lots of club rides, and the Vintage tractor run of course. Contrast the joys of life.
Overall Scotland were the outright winners in points gained from all races, Wales girls were ecstatic beating Scotland girls in the relay by a few seconds, and Im sure the squads all had a brilliant time away in our beautiful outdoor spaces. Read more here:-http://www.jros.org.uk/jirc-2013
full results here:- http://www.wimborne-orienteers.org.uk/wim/13%20JIRCS%20Relay/TeamResults.pdf