After a cracking Newport Street Race I was keen to experience another. The next race in the South Wales Orienteering Club calendar took place on February 22nd in Thornhill, Cardiff.
The last two street races in Newport and Chepstow were in areas I was familiar with so allowed me to plan better whilst running and importantly know how long it would take me to return to base from a variety of locations. My knowledge of Thornhill and surrounding area didn’t extend beyond a street or two – and I’d only seen those streets in the daytime.
At the Newport event we were fortunate to have been given a sneak peek of the map so that we could decide on the correct footwear but on this event we’d only be able to see the map once the clock had started.
Turning over the map I quickly scanned it and could see a north-south divide with some high value controls in the south and lower value, but more of them, in the north. I decided to head north and quickly visited two controls but then got disorientated, then flustered, then after running around in a circle got back on track and could finally pick up some speed running to the next control.
It didn’t last long. I was disorientated again! Running down a small path behind some houses I had become confused when it entered the rear of Sainsbury’s and being conscious of not wasting time I back-tracked along the path and headed for another set of controls grouped at the front of Sainsbury’s. It was only now that I was feeling more confident reading the map and was confident enough to take a marked shortcut through Sainsbury’s.
I quickly planned out an number of controls whilst running and calculated that if i didn’t stray too far to the edges of the map I would have a chance of getting back before the hour was up. Some of the controls were higher value but none in the highest category of 40 points – those were reserved more for the edges of the map and but if you were a fast runner you have a good opportunity to sprint between them. You’d also have to be confident of knowing exactly where you were going, which I wasn’t.
I managed to do a good job of finding the controls I needed without wasting much time and was working in an anti-clockwise direction back in the direction of Sainsbury’s and ultimately the finish. By the time I reached the south side of Sainsbury’s I headed for a cul-de-sac and control #10 only to realise when I arrived that I had already been there! Very much a rookie mistake but I was still heading in the right direction and this was the only control on the way so wasn’t an issue.
With around 10 minutes left there was a chance I could take a little detour and bag a higher value control and still make it back to base. It was on the main road so meant more running and less navigating.
I arrived back at base at around 57/58 minutes so no penalties but still wasted time. The experienced orienteers were arriving back dead on 60 minutes or just after. The combination of being a fast runner and an experienced orienteer meant they were scoring a lot more points and even with penalties were still leagues ahead of me.