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September 1997

Chairman's chat ( Dave's Drivel )

Well, its been a pretty busy O-summer for me: two Gallopen events; the Harvester, with the Midsummer Madness/Chairman's Challenge ( O-snooker ) only hours before; the Saunders and Capricorn Mountain Marathons; and best of all, a week-long orienteering holiday at the Scottish 6-days. Most of these events are covered in more detail later in JW, but here's a few items of late news ( as the two Ronnies used to say ).

There were to memorable moments from Roger and Sue's Gallopen event at Milton Country park. The first was seeing the W20 Elite British and JK Orienteering champion not notice that she'd picked up the wrong map for the map-memory course. But perhaps Abi didn't think it unreasonable to have to memorise the route to 9 controls! ( there were only three controls on the real map-memory master map ). The second was the weather. All the competitors completed in excellent weather, but the moment the last one crossed the line, the heavens opened and Roger and I got instantly soaked to the skin as we collected the controls in.

I got almost as wet putting out the controls for the Midsummer Madness, this year devised as an orienteering game based on snooker. There were 21 controls ( actually, 22 - I can't count ): 15 "reds", a yellow, green, brown, blue, pink and black, each scoring their usual snooker values, and you had to pot them just like snooker: first a red, then a colour, then a red, then a colour. No-one scored a maximum 147 break, but Eric Roller of CUOC got closest with 125.

The Orienteering aspect of the Scottish 6-days is described elsewhere, but there was also a very successful WAOC meal at the Croft-na-Caber hotel, which attracted most WAOC members at the event. Thanks to Hally for organising it. Fewer WAOC people went to the Breadalbane ceilidhs on the Tuesday and Saturday evenings. I missed the Tuesday one, but the Saturday one was really excellent. No previous experience of ceilidh dancing is necessary, as the moves are usually explained by the caller and, if not, you just follow everyone else. If in doubt, just get yourself in the same group as Jenny Pennington, and she'll soon have you Stripping the Willow and twirling the Gay Gordons!

Finally, I've still got a "Wilf's Mug" left in the club tent on Day 2 ( I think ), together with a ( childs? ) pair of black socks. Let me know if they're yours. And anyone who still hasn't paid for the JK, British or Harvester relays, please get the money to Alan Milne ( club treasurer ), Sue or Roger, or me asap.

Enjoy your Autumn Orienteering.


Abi is Top Brit at JWOC!

Abi Weeds (WAOC, W20) represented Great Britain at the Junior World Orienteering Championships held near Leopoldsburg, Belgium in July.

She was the top Brit in the women's Classic Distance race (7.8km), coming 27th out of a field of 138, with a time of 64.15, just 11 minutes behind the winner, Simone Luder of Switzerland. Next highest ranked British competitor was Claire Williams (SHUOC) in 51st place, at 67.43.

Abi was also part of the 11th placed women's relay team, but had less success in the Short Distance race, qualifying for the B final, but failing to finish.

Many congratulations to Abi on being selected ( there were only 6 women's places in the squad ) and for her fantastic achievements in Belgium. Well done.

Ruth Watson is running round in circles ...

...Fast. Very Fast. Whilst Abi represents her country at orienteering, another WAOC member, Ruth Watson (W18), is excelling in track athletics, representing Great Britain in an under-20 international in Germany in early June. Ruth ran the 400m in 56.2 secs. ( For those who think in mins/km, that's 2:20.5 mins/km! ).

A week later, Ruth shattered the Cambridgeshire Schools Championships records for the 100m, 200m, and again won the 400m. In the 100m, she broke the current Cambridgeshire record by 0.2sec, a record that was older than Ruth herself. Ruth's time of 12.2 secs ranks her in the top six nationally at this distance. She then went on to win the 200m, in 25.7 secs, improving the County standard by 0.1 secs. Having already achieved an England School's qualifying time in Germany, Ruth "relaxed" in the 400m, winning it in 60.6 secs.

Well done Ruth. Good luck in your future events.

Harvester curse strikes again

WAOC usually tries to enter two teams for the Harvester: an "A" team in the seven stage open relay, and a "B" team in the five stage handicap relay. On paper, our "A" team is supposed to be the strongest of the two teams. In practice, what often happens is that the "A" team succumbs to some disaster and gets roundly trounced by the "B" team. 1997 was no exception. Our "A" team ( WAOC sparklers ) contained Mark Wadeson, Steve Hardy, Ian Jones, Nigel Cole, Maria Engberg, Lindsey Freeman and me, Dave Wotton. The "B" team ( WAOC glow-worms ) was made up of David Peregrine, Ian Wadeson, Colin Curtis, Tony Wadeson and Keith Douglas.

The venue was Longmoor, military land near Aldershot. Those of you who took part in the JK there a couple of years back will remember its distinctive features: slit trenches and a dense network of tank tracks. The ground is sandy and it only takes a couple of tanks to gouge a 4m wide and 7m deep ravine through the terrain. Navigating through this maze of tracks caught out many people at the JK, and that was in daylight. The majority of the Harvester is run at night, and there was no concession to the darkness.

Most of us arrived at between 8pm and 10pm and pitched our tents. The club tent was put up alongside the run-in, in a good position to watch the incoming runners. The "A" race started at 11:30pm, just as twilight turned to total darkness. Apparently, there was mean't to have been a full moon - but we saw little of it. It was overcast and drizzily with fairly frequent heavy showers all through the night.

Having seen Mark start, I wandered over to the catering van and bought some coffee. Although I was to run on the final leg, probably at about 6 or 7am, I'd resolved to stay up to see the first changeover and the start of the "B" race. By 1am, the first runners were beginning to return. Times seemed rather slow - it was clearly difficult out there. By 1:20am, Mark seemed a little overdue. David Peregrine was getting himself kitted out for the "B" race which was due to start at 1:45am. Steve Hardy got changed and went to the changeover pen to await Mark's arrival. Just minutes before the "B" race start, our team number is called out - Mark must be at the final control. Suddenly, we see him running down the run-in, he doesn't look too happy. He picks up the leg 2 map and hands it over to Steve at the changeover just as the "B" race starts, making Steve unintentionally part of a mass start.

A few minutes later, Mark arrived at the club tent, looking rather wobegone. "I retired" he says, "it took over an hour to find two controls". We commiserate, but no-one's unduly worried - these upsets are almost expected, and its not going to stop us continuing throughout the night.

I go back to my tent, and catch a couple of hours sleep. At 4:30am its beginning to get light but is pouring down with rain. I return to the club tent. Nigel is out on the "A" course and Colin is out on the "B". The "B" team seems to be doing well. The "A" team's ambition now is to avoid the mini-mass-start at 7am. A bit of mental arithmetic shows that it will be touch-and-go. Nigel returns and hands over to Maria. Headtorches are no longer necessary. Next leg is Lindsey, and finally me. At 6:45, I get changed and go over to the changeover pen.

The pen is sheltered by a large military tent. There's about 30 orienteers warming up and waiting for their incoming runners in there. Its getting perilously close to the mini-mass-start. Peering out of the tent through the drizzle, I see Keith Douglas running down the run-in to finish for the "B" team. Just as the start official starts to explain how the mini-mass-start is to operate, Lindsey's number is called out, and I see her approach. A smooth handover, and I'm away, avoiding the mass-start by about 5 minutes.

My course, being totally in daylight, is the longest, about 11km and is a two-lap affair, with a map exchange in the assembly area. I make a few minor mistakes, but nothing major. But I can't help thinking, as I navigate through the tank tracks, "I'm glad I'm not doing this at night!"

Harvester 1998

Next year's Harvester is being organised by EAOA and will be in Thetford Forest. Nigel Cole is planning, and WAOC will be heavily involved in the organisation. We'll need lots of WAOC helpers throughout the event. We also hope to be able to enter several teams. Staying up all night to take part in an event which borders on the edge of sanity creates an excellent atmosphere and it really is very good fun. The only special equipment you need is a headtorch, although you can get away with a hand-held one. Besides, only half the legs are actually run in the dark, so even if you're not confident to run at night, there'll still be a place for you in one of the teams.

So, why not try some night-O? For the juniors, there's the Peter Palmer relays coming up, and there's various night events ( not relays ) throughout the winter months, including one at Therfield Heath on Nov 8th.

Even if night-O does not appeal, you can still savour the atmosphere of the event by helping at next year's Harvester. Finally, we urgently need a co-ordinator to manage our team of helpers. No previous experience of night-O is necessary. The tasks are largely administrative, acting as WAOC's contact point with the EAOA, being responsible for gathering the team and any equipment together, and being the focal point for WAOC's resources on the night. It really isn't much different to organising a colour-coded event. Remember, there are five other clubs involved, so we're not responsible for it all!

Anyone who's interested in this role should contact me as soon as possible.


Peter Palmer Junior Team Relays

20-21st September 1997,
University of East Anglia, Norwich

This is a junior version of the Harvester: an orienteering relay which starts at 4.30 (am!) and will have one or two of the legs in the dark.

WAOC hopes to enter at least one team. Each team has 8 members. The leg lengths are: two of Red standard, 5km ( the night legs ); two Light Green, 6.5 km; two Orange, 3.5 km; one Yellow, 2.5 km; and one Green standard, 7.5km.

Accomodation will be in an adjacent school and there will also be a 5-a-side football competition on the Saturday night.

Team members must be M/W 11-18. Chris Brown is co-ordinating WAOC's team(s), so if you're interested - give him a call as soon as possible. The entry fee will be paid by the club, and if you need a head-torch, these can be provided. Go for it!

Junior Inter-Club Competition

In the Autumn, the Region will be holding its first Junior Inter-Club competition. All club members aged M/W20 and under will qualify, and most will be able to run on their usual colour standard course. The fastest eligible runner will score 50 points, followed by 49, 48 etc. down to 1. So everyone counts. All finishers will score at least 1 point.

The competition will probably be at Rowney Warren on October 26th. The top three clubs will go through to the National final in the West Midlands during late Autumn.

So, come on all you WAOC juniors, get along to the Rowney Warren colour-coded event: Since everyone scores, we need as many of you there as possible.

EAOA is giving away money.

Not a lot, but there's a small pot of cash for grants for people wishing to go on controllers, planners or organisers courses. These grants must be taken up by the end of 1997, so if you're interested - apply now. WAOC will also provide additional grants.

There's a Grade 3 controllers course ( ie. qualifying you to control colour-coded events ) at Sutton Coldfield on Saturday 15th November. Details from John Bennison.

EAOA needs a vice!

Sorry, I'll just say that again ... EAOA is looking for a new vice-chairman/chairwoman. The task is primarily an administrative one, and would involve attending half a dozen or so meetings a year. ( Most EAOA committee meetings are held in Newmarket. ) There would probably be a natural progression onto chairing EAOA in due course. You don't need to be a good orienteer to be eligible, just enthusiastic. For more details, contact Mike Capper, current EAOA chairman, and WAOC member.

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