Wednesday 20th Feb, I managed an early escape from work to travel up to Taunton for a Quantock Orienteers MapRun Event. The event centre was the Car Park of the Master Thatcher. Quantock were offering a 50 min score event with two options. Long used the odd evens format. Start on odds, switch to evens when you want but you can’t count any odds from then on, this was handily annotated on the map using Blue and Red control circles. The second option short, was a straight forward score using all the controls.
Instead of traditional pin punches or electronic punching the event used the MapRun app on a mobile. This was my first experience of using this technology, I downloaded and set it up at the event.
Once registered, I was given a PIN number to access the event on the app, all that was left was make my way to the start. I was accompanied by Jeff Pakes planner and mapper for the event, who gave me the low down on using the app. I decided to carry my phone in my bum bag hoping the beep you receive at a control would be loud enough to hear. As I approached the start, map in hand I was reassured to hear a clear beep, and off I headed. The terrain was mostly an area of housing estates with an extensive network of paths. My strategy was to try and collect all the controls but reassess every 10 mins to see how I was getting on. It’s always nice to find the first control but especially when your phone is acting as control and punching system. Sure enough my first control, a lamppost was there on the ground and as I approached it I was happy to hear a reassuring beep from my phone, first control done. Jeff’s map was great, a really simple map taken from open source data, which he added to with a simple survey. As I carried on getting more familiar with the system, and coming to terms that I wouldn’t see the normal reassuring control flag, just the control feature followed by a reassuring beep, it started to feel more second nature. Occasionally the beep didn’t come when expected, once I had got it wrong, I’d seen a lamppost and ran to it thinking it was the control feature, when it was actually the path junction 10m to my right. Another time I was at the feature, and began scratching my head, another mistake? No just needed to shift 1m and beep goes the phone.
Now I love score events at the best of times, but this terrain, excellent planning and the use of the MapRun app combined for a great informal event. Soon 40 mins had gone by and I was looking for the best route home, I quickly take in two 50 pointers and put my head down and make for the finish. Just a quick run into the pub Car Park over to the finish control and beep, I’d finished - 24 controls/30 visited and a score of 810, 4th overall. I quickly changed and headed into the pub. All that was left was to press the upload button on the app and check the results on your phone. As always it was good to chat to other runners about their run, and checkout out their routes. What was especially nice was to see the organisers and planners in the pub, with the planner not having to go out and collect controls (although I still offered), that’s the real benefit of this system the infrastructure is virtual, so volunteer time is greatly reduced, always a positive thing.
Thank you to Quantock Orienteers for a great event, especially Jeff Pakes, Planner and Roger and Judy Craddock the organisers.
So am I sold on the MapRun app, Yes Yes Yes. I think for local informal events it's a win win situation. I have listed a few Pros and Cons below.
Volunteer time and effort reduced
No control to be stolen or vandalised
Be able to make use of a variety of open public spaces
Simple to use
Excellent for summer series, training or local urban events
Occasionally need to moved around control feature to find the beep
Beep not always loud enough if you are in an area of traffic (would need to check my phone or app settings)
Not sure how good it would be in covered areas, underpasses, tree cover in parks etc (would need to trial)
Hobbled around this nice little course yesterday evening, thought the planner did a good job in the total lack of terrain, it must have made planning difficult. Managed to get around in the 4.9km course in 55:45. Just one bad control, number 9 where I headed back as I thought I has missed it in a patch of unmapped fight! If I could get my left leg sorted then I might be running quite well!
So I found myself in Bridgwater for the WNL/QOAD leagues urban night event, a 1 hr score event. After the recent wet weather I was glad to get a run in dry conditions. After meeting in the comfort of a city centre coffee shop, it was time to venture out into Bridgwater so see what was on offer. After getting the map I was struck by the complexity of an urban score, in the forest I can generally see a route and find it easy to have a big plan to adjust on the way around. It's definitely not that clear in an urban setting. I quickly decided to just go for it and figure it out on the way with the overall goal to get all the 30, 40 and 50 pointers. So off north to 101 a 10 pointer, no issues, decided on safe route to 122 to really get into the map. Beautiful run past the docks full of narrow boats, one of the great things about urban orienteering is you get to visit places you haven't thought about going before. Out and back to 115 going OK, trying to keep it steady as haven't run for a while due to a persistent calf problem. Poor route choice south to 112 literally went around the houses, and poorly executed as well. 123 easy then the longest 75m control ever to 127, ran passed on the canal path but made sure on the way back. Straight forward to 121 27 minutes gone. Decided to miss the 10 pointer by the canal, so to the 40 pointer 126, no issues, on the way search the map for the remaining 50 and 40 pointers. Through 111 and off road to the 50 pointer 128 on the Meads. 18 minutes left time to head for home, the run across the Meads was soul destroying, the wet boggy ground sapping any remaining strength, starting to wonder if I am going to make it back in time! Out of bounds on the road to the north starting to worry me. Time to get my skates on. Down the canal path through the 30 pointer (124), take the 10 pointer (110) to the north or not? Decide to go for it, lack of running showing now. 110 tick, 106 tick then struggle to the finish. It was great to get back to coffee#1, for a hot chocolate, bite to eat and the all important debrief, this how orienteering should be! What a great area for a race, I really enjoyed it. Thanks to all those who put it on especially the planner Gavin who gave us lots to think about.
|Route uploaded using GPS track so no hiding, that where I went. Mine in yellow, Richard Barrett 5th Green|
My expectations coming into the JK were very low, due to injuries I had only run twice since February, so the main aim was to get around injury free. So approaching Day 3 it was a case of 2 down 2 to go! We pitched up early in the van and got breakfast underway one of the many advantages we are finding out about the camper. We sat and watched people on the way to the starts, it was obvious that cags were going to be compulsory, the clag was down, there was a strong wind and the temperature a barmey 4C. I watched competitors going about their business hoping that the clag would lift as the terrain would be challenge enough. As we came to 11am I was happy to see it improve. Day 2 had left me with a blister on each foot so I taped them up and made my way to the far start and huddled down, waiting for my start time. 1 min to call up Helen and Abbie appeared, Oh I am in trouble! I must have forgotten to explain to her that she should be at the near start. I open my mouth to speak when she presents me with my race bib!! I unpin Abbie's and sheepishly return it to her. Call up, I am fumbling around trying to pin my bib on under my waterproof, get my SI card checked and generally get ready. 4 mins to go off go the gloves and get two pins in. 3 mins to go start volunteer points out my glove on the floor, I get the other pins in! 2mins to go I stuff my gloves in my pocket, get my compass out and take an all too short glance at the map. 1 min to go and I mumble to myself how well everything is going. Ella Bowles (Devon) is in the same start block and comforts me by saying something to the effect that it can only get better! Off we go, cautious to start with as the quarry area looks technical. Under confident to #1 but nothing major through #2 and back to bearing and pace counting until I spotted broken ground and then straight into #3. Decided on the path around option to #4 and came off the path and perfectly into the control always a nice feeling. Long leg to #5 pretty vague terrain so slowed it down to avoid a big mistake. No one around and felt quite isolated. Bottled it on the way to #7 decided to head for the path then back in, should have gone more direct with path as catching feature big regret. Descent to #9 pick a depression any depression! Looked in most on the way past eventually got led in. Leg to #10 felt like a Mountain Marathon leg, really on my own now, 5m from control happy to have corrected my drift to the east, enjoying being out on my own. Before I punch the control two elites have appeared, punched and are off again. I punch and take after them, they are heading my way, 300m latter they are gone and I am knackered. I jump over #11 and see it out of the corner of my eye, nice to have a bit of luck. Then a rumble of thunder hits me, I try to remember my ML training, what do you do if your stuck in a thunderstorm on the hills? Oh well carry on. Like a moth drawn to the light I get drawn down the hill before #12 to a row of crags. My GPS shows me on a prefect line before getting distracted which is very annoying. Been alone now since the elites went, is there anyone else on my course? Long leg to #14 need to get to the track leading into the control, bit all over the place but eventually get there, pass someone 500m out but still quiet. 200m and I can clearly see 50/60 people all over the place. There is a lot of random searching going on. Slight wobble near the control as I wander off indistinct path. 1hr 45min gone keen as always to break the 2hr mark. Bearing and pacing to #15, no problems, just need to keep it going. Run down the hill to #16 and over to #17. #18 seems a bit of a waste of time, as it's a TD1 control described as Track on the control descriptions! Mop up the rest and into the the finish tired but content. M40L 11.3km 180m 1hr 58min 01secs. 23rd/41.
Abbie managed to beat me on the run in 26 secs to 29. Need to work on my finishing speed!
Abbie managed to beat me on the run in 26 secs to 29. Need to work on my finishing speed!
Link to the new improved routegadet which allows easy uploading of gps tracks or manual input of routes. http://www.jk.routegadget.co.uk/rg2/#49
I was stood outside the Students' Union in Pleasance Courtyard watching the first competitors coming through the spectator control. I stood there in my full waterproofs wondering if I could get away with keeping my waterproofs on and not look like a southern softy. Its wet and cold and the dress state of the competitors coming through varies considerably, from full running waterproofs to singlets and shorts. Whatever I decided on I wouldn't look out of place that's for sure. I decided to keep my waterproof top on and abandon the trousers (waterproofs that is). I jog to the start, 8 mins to go, I join the shivering crowd whilst watching competitors running to a control in a small park across the road. 4 mins to go I stand shivering in pre-start trying to work out how to fit my 33 control long descriptions into the holder. Decided not to worry about the last 5 controls so fold descriptions accordingly. Managed to get that sorted in time for my start ...... just. So off I go, I pick up my Men's Open map (still trying to avoid running the veterans course, sounds so old!) and start off down the path in front, long leg to #1 important to get it right. Decide to go east and follow path through woods. Then back onto road for final run into control. All good. #3 is situated on another University campus (how many are there?) turn north after entering the campus before realising I can't / shouldn't run through the building. Coming out of #6 missed path after control so doubled back and headed south to small fence between building and wall. Unsure whether I should jump it, decided to head back up east side of building. #8 thought I had this one sussed but small gate to west closed so had to loop around to the north. Finding the right ally is key to #14 which I nail, then stand trying to workout where the
control is. Control description said steps bottom. However nothing there........ soon a whippet turns up and seeing my predicament, and without breaking stride points to the control at the bottom of the upper set of steps. If only I could read control descriptions! He's gone before I can even thank him. The Educational Bit - Apparently (reading after the event) the symbol in the first column means upper ....... so Upper Steps Foot.
Anyway onwards ....... #16 was of those urban controls where you can see the control but have to run past it to get to it, a few people stand looking at it longingly!! #17 spectator control, don't care about splits at these just make it look like you know what you are doing!!.
36 mins gone, turn the map over. Lots more to do.......... clean through to #20, then the fun begins. Find the steps to take me down to #21. Head north along the building, I jink left into the control, no control! Definitely in the right place. Check control description hmmm, must be on next level up. Idiot! Spilt 2:09 fastest split 0.35. Run through #23 punching and turning left around building, confronted with uncrossable fence, competitor on other side thinking same thing, at least I wasn't alone. Clean through to #29, although probably a couple of poor route choices to #28 at start and end. Hesitate to #30 but nothing major. On the way to #33 I run down the little ally on the right but as I turn the corner realise it's a deadend! Then into the finish, 6.8km 72.09, actual distance ran 11.2km. A really excellent race, well organised and a great map and terrain. Very happy with my run, and especially happy when I saw this Time Loss Graph. 57th/87, won by Murray Strain (who's he) in 43.11.