SOC event on Kings Garn and Castle Malwood provided a traditional night-o. Some comments via Rob Finch -
Some positive feedback from Strava, quite a fun Strava flyby with some people making big mistakes!
"Very wet forest (as expected), but finally a proper night O in the woods! Enjoyed it"
"Proper nighto unlike last week. Head was never in it so kept making daft mistakes and decided I was so far off the pace i may as well just get all of them."
"A 60 minute score event in the Wessex Night League and my first night orienteering event solely in forest. And great fun it was, with a little blundering around in the dark, and 20 penalty points for being a little over the hour. Did better than I expected, and thoroughly enjoyed it."
More from Julie Astin WSX reporting on her experience -
JULIE ASTIN: Disaster in the Dark
Now I know why I haven't been forest night orienteering for several years - I'm rubbish at it! Last night was the SOC event at Kings Garn and Castle Malwood, based at the Sir Walter Tyrell pub. The evening was perfect for the event as it was quite mild and dry - apart from underfoot! The control description for the Start was 'end of linear marsh', so a bit of a clue as to what we were going to experience.
I was one of the earlier starts - I wanted to get it over and done with as soon as possible! I took a quick look at the map (probably too quick - I'm not good at planning a strategy) and set off south across the wet open area into the block of forest. The first control (171) looked fairly straightforward - just take a bearing through the woods to hit the end of a long finger of open cutting into the area. This plan didn't work out quite as intended as I veered off to the right and hit open at the edge of the wood, but not being sure exactly where. I scanned around with my headtorch and managed to notice the open heading off into the trees and ran up it to find the control. Relief!
Headed further south to the next one (164) across wet open and uphill. Found ponds that didn't appear to be on the map which threw me a bit but eventually found the main track which helped me find my way to the control. More relief!
Next control (161) not too bad either, so getting to be a bit more at ease. I was, by then, behind Carolyn Dent (BOK) who had started after me and was much more experienced night orienteer than myself. We both entered the woods at the same place, heading for a 50-pointer. We hit a stream - oops, too far. Whereas Carolyn kept her head and managed to relocate and find the control eventually (I found out later) I headed back in a vague direction just hoping I'd find it. Headless chicken mode really. I thought I'd found a small ride that was mapped which would have lead me to the control - but it clearly wasn't. In the dark, it's so difficult to determine what's a path/ride in the forest. As a result, I spent far too much time looking for the control 170 to no avail.
So rather demoralised I headed north across the stream to find 162 and amazingly found it without too much trouble. Looking at my watch, I saw I had about 20 minutes left, and decided to head for the other 50-pointer just to try and redeem myself. Big mistake. Not only was it a long trudge along the main track, I then had to cross a fence and two rides before looking for the depression. I somehow managed to cross the second ride without noticing it and hence ended up searching in the wrong area for the control. I eventually gave up and headed east to hit the main track and reluctantly head for home. Then I found I was at the ride junction which wasn't far from the control, so decided to go in and have another look. No luck yet again! By this time, I had very little time before the 60 minutes was up and I knew I was going to be overtime. The run back was along the very muddy track and seemed to go on for ever. By the time I reached the finish, I really thought I'd end up with a minus score as I was over 7 minutes late. As it was, I had got a grand total of 90 points, minus 80 penalty points - ending up with a grand total of 10!! Not my finest hour (well, 67+minutes, actually).
BUT... I really enjoyed it and it made me realise I need to do more forest night events to get my night map-reading skills improved. My casual "I'm sure I'll find the control if I get to the general area" approach, which can work in the daytime, just doesn't cut it at night. A humbling experience.
Note to self - perhaps SOC should offer some specific night-o training (Colin H.)
From Gavin Clegg:-
In the Open League Nick Jarvis really went for it and got all the controls but with penalty points ended up 10th. He is still up 2 places and will be in the mix. No change at the top but both Alan F and Dan didn’t improve their scores. Becca moves up the third overall. Jo Pickering is gaining and had the best female result of the night. Rob Finch, last nights winner moves up 5 to 6th and is another that will be in the mix.
In the Handicap League: Very little movement with just those still to make 7 events making any inroads. Crystal Ball time after 8 races. In the Open I’m going for 1st Rob Finch, 2nd Alan Finlay and 3rd Nick Jarvis, with Dan Cope snapping at their heels. With the Ladies then Becca 1st, Jo 2nd and Tereza 3rd. Too soon to predict the Handicap though.
Looking at the League tables it is noticeable that less SOC members are taking part this winter, which is disappointing. So perhaps some night coaching is overdue? Colin H.