CLOK New Year Relays

I sat in the hotel bar in Peebles drinking my Broughton Ale and reminiscing about the Two Breweries Hill race. But that was a long way away, the immediate question was what to do on Sunday? There were lots of choices: Stockton 5K, Old Monks 6, Clay Bank East, and something interesting involving bicycles and maps at Hamsterley. Hmmm, four options, all good. What’s a man to do? Just at that moment there was a humorous bleep from my trouser pocket so I fished out my phone and checked my email.

Interesting. So now there was an option 5. The Northern Navigators were short of a cook/runner for a team orienteering event and was I interested? Well, I wasn’t so sure I was with all the other options available. But then I read it again and noticed the bit about it being fancy dress and it immediately became a no-brainer. Well that was settled then – any excuse to wear a wig.

Does my bum look big in this?

It was a fine but cold morning at Cowpen Bewley. A one hour team score orienteering event was a new one to me, as was the interesting bit about a transition in the middle. That sounded a bit duathlony. I registered and asked how it all worked but was advised that it would all be explained when we started, so on past experience I reckon I’d probably work it all out by the time I finished. I knew where I was with wigs though, and handed out my spare wigs to my bemused team-mates.

A mass start in an orienteering event is always a bit of a hoot and not dissimilar to the start of our own Durham 3 peaks race. Runners sprint of in all directions and you can’t help wondering if they know something you don’t. My team had agreed to rendezvous at the transition point after 35 minutes and have a go at the other map. They were already waiting for me when I got there exactly on 35 minutes, and we grabbed our second map and headed out again. Score events are stressful beasts as you try and weigh up grabbing extra controls and points against the penalty points you get if you happen to be late at the finish. It does, however, lend itself to a neat race. You’ve got an hour to get as many controls as you can. So the race is pretty much done and dusted an hour and a few minutes after it starts.

I was miffed but unsurprised (my standard response) at the results. We’d been beaten by two other Northern Navigators teams. I thought we were the ‘B’ team – but alas, the Cooks with Colds had been beaten by the Northern Navvies. Not even a few extra points for fancy dress could get us out of fifth place.

It was a good event and despite fancy dress being encouraged there was clearly a good mixture of abilities and tactics and a strong competitive spirit. It was also an hour of hard running interspersed by occasional moments of stationary bafflement. Or rest periods as I prefer to call them. There were 15 teams in total and not a splash in purple to be seen. Not surprising with so many other good events also on today, but perhaps it’s an option for next year. It’s a good event for a runner. All orienteering events are.

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