Wednesday, January 03, 2007

CLOK Autumn Sprint Race Series

This is a little experimental - so please forgive the layout!

Anyway, in the autumn of 2005, I decided that there was a small area, which had previously formed part of a larger orienteering map, which would be great from a sprint race, having just returned from the Scottish 6-Day sprint race in an Aberdeen park.

Lordstones is a plateau, lying between Cringle Moor and Carlton Bank on the Cleveland Hills escarpment, some 600ft above the Tees Valley. The owner had opened a cafe by the roadside, and had developed the surrounding area into a pleasant recreational area - he'd dug a few ponds, planted a few trees, and mown paths through the grass/heather. I resurveyed it and Paul T OCADed the map.

So why not run a junior training session on the area - have a sprint race first, to which parents and other CLOK members were invited, and then use the controls for a training session afterwards! Well, it was a great success, and out of that effort was born the 2006 Autumn Sprint Race Series.

I had been frustrated that CLOK had many small mapped areas, which were used by schools or had permanent courses on them, but were never used for competitions by the club. Here was an ideal opportunity!

The first race was in a fairly conventional O area - Ravengill Scout Camp, which had hosted our annual New Year Relays before. The second was in Darlington - the ultimate urban park, on which millions of pounds of lottery money had been spent bringing it back to it's Victorian glory.

There was even a very posh classroom where we
could set up the computers, get changed, leave kit etc, right beside the tearoom! It was a fabulous day for October, and a great little event, marred only by the loss of an EMIT unit during the 'collect-the-controls-in-relay' at the end of the training session - the cost totally wiped out the profit made from the nominal fees charged to non-juniors, which was destined for the junior squad funds.

The one thing about urban parks, is the variety of control sites available - not just the bandstand at South Park, but a piece of the original Darlington to Stockton Railway line and a cannon from the Crimean War!!

The third race was in another park - Preston Park in Stockton, this time with an aviary, Butterfly World, a museum with a Victorian street and a minature railway with a station! But being November, the weather had turned, and lashing rain affected the early runners.

To avoid any loss of EMIT kit, a lot the controls were cable tied to metal railings, the ferry jetty and to the foot of a metal spiral staircase.

The final race was held at the Laurence Jackson Sports College in Guisborough - the Head is an orienteer, which helps! More typical sprint-O terrain as well, around the school buildings, with a few nooks and crannies to place the Kites! I particularly liked 'E-most wall corner, W side, upper part'! And rather than do typical O-training, the juniors had a go on the climbing wall and did fun circuits in the Sports Hall, finished off with party food and presentations of awards and cups and certificates!

So all in all, a great little series, fun for all the family, decent turnouts at each one (average 50, on two courses) and some quality at the front end - Duncan Archer, Rory Matheson, Rob Campbell, Cat Taylor and Karen Heppenstall. Some of the young lads are starting to get the hang of it too!

I wish I could have run - but I did have the pleasure of planning them all!

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