Parish WalkIoM VeteransFell RunningCross Country


Christine Barwell finds a new direction - well just  about!


Before she departed - Greeba Fell Race (Picture by Steve Partington)

I have recently returned from a 'warm (hot) weather training' trip to Australia (basically had no money to do any touristy things and running was free!!).  Despite having a wonderful time, I was naturally disappointed to miss the Bradda Fell Race so decided to seek out something similar in Sydney.  A bit of a long shot I thought, so imagine my delight to find the Sydney Summer Series - "navigation on-the-run" - perfect.

The information on the event described The Sydney Summer Series as an exciting programme of after-work running events for those who would like a navigational challenge in the cool of Sydney's summer evenings.  The events are held in some of the city's finest harbourside parks and suburban bushland areas.

The race was timed over 45 minutes and involved visiting a variety of local features, or checkpoints, with the aid of specially prepared orienteering maps.  The checkpoints had different score values and the runner with the highest score at the end of their 45 minutes was the winner.

Wednesday 25th February 2004 was a typical hot summer's day with clear blue skies.  I arrived at sign-on to find the usual chat, banter and 'injury analysis' you would find at any event on the Isle of Man. 

Whilst chatting with one of the competitors I was told that if I knew anything about contour lines I would see that the course is very hilly!!  I was surprised by his statement as the only hills I had encountered on my trip so far had been on an excursion to the Blue Mountains.

Anyway I set off with map in one hand and score values in the other,  I had my route all worked out, and planned to do just one big loop and not to make it too complicated.  After 10 minutes or so I felt I was going quite well, had a couple of checkpoints under my belt and was feeling confident.  Thought how nice it would be to include one of the bushland areas and headed off to an area described as "Bush, not too thick"!  I managed to find a couple more checkpoints so continued on my way.  After, what seemed like a rather long time, with no appearance of 'Checkpoint 24 Track Junction' and maximum point value, I started to get a little concerned that I might not actually be where I thought I was.  Then, to make matters worse I encountered my first rain of the holiday, in fact it was a total downpour and my map decomposed into a ball of mush.  I glanced at my watch - 42 minutes had elapsed (did I mention that for every minute over 45, 10 points are deducted). 

Eventually I found myself back on the road but with absolutely no idea where the finish was, however by sheer luck I spotted a familiar landmark in the distance and headed home.  All I could think about on the frantic sprint to the finish was that I could actually finish the race with a minus score - how embarrassing!

I finished the race with a score of 120, however in a time of over 53 minutes, which ended up a final score of 32.  Surprisingly I didn't come last (second to last!!).

Despite my inaugural orienteering race being a total disaster, I have to say it was thoroughly enjoyable and 'a good laugh'.  As with our own running events on the Island the atmosphere was friendly and welcoming and at the end of the day does it really matter if we finish first or last, as the saying goes "its the taking part".   


copyright (c) 2004 Murray Lambden. All rights reserved.
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