After an enjoyable first attempt at this sport, I headed along to Wythenshawe Park – very close to home – where Manchester and District Orienteering Club (MDOC) – were putting on another Saturday morning event suitable for beginners.
John Jocys, esteemed fellow resident of Timperley, and veteran of several TGO Challenges and numerous orienteering events, joined me on this occasion, and we set off together on Part 1 of a two part ‘Sprint’ event.
We had to ‘dibb’ 13 controls over a snowy 3 km course. Here’s John, being ‘downloaded’ by Sue Birkinshaw. He claims the sweatiness, on this cold day, was due to his mounting sense of terror and despondency as he traipsed through the snow looking for control number 12, having been long abandoned by his mate.
The second part was over a further 3.5 km route, with 13 more controls. We started in the exact order in which we’d finished the first part, with the same time differences. So I thought I was lucky to be starting just 6 seconds after Alice, who had ‘Orienteer’ written on her back, so she must know what she’s doing (I thought). I tracked her to the second control and without really checking the map, on through a dense thicket to the third. Or so I thought, until she appeared looking a bit flustered and headed off in the opposite direction through deep undergrowth. She’d fooled herself and me. So I went back to the path and navigated my own way round, losing about 3 minutes to fleet of foot teenager Alice. Failing to locate control number 7 until a chasing group caught up with me didn’t help. It was good fun though, despite the long wait for John to finish.
21 people started the sprint, so I was delighted to come in 11th place, second (out of three - 10th, 11th and 12th) in the ‘M60’ class. I’m even more pleased now that I’ve browsed the MDOC website and discovered that Alice, who skillfully shook me off by leading me completely the wrong way, has represented England and that various of the other people who finished ahead seem to have done quite well in an array of British championship events.
Great fun, rounded off with a welcome pint with John at the Gardeners Arms.