Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Barrel Inn Race

Earlier today I headed out for a walk with Mum to put our names in the August Calendar Box. After reading some accounts of long hunts at the location I was expecting to be out a while, but I somehow managed to walk straight to the box's hiding place after only 2 cursory glances in likely-looking holes - the thought that I might be channelling Neil is quite a formidable one, but thankfully I've not started BOO-ing or looking like a Monkey yet.
The Box is in here somewhere! (image from Fran Halsall)
This evening was the Barrel Inn race from Eyam, a Pennine Champs counter which, as it's looking likely that I'll be missing Grisedale Horseshoe at the weekend (another champs counter), I needed a good result at as I push to reach those with races in hand (6 races needed to count, I currently only have 4).
With a record set by Steve Vernon it was obvious that this would be a fast, not very technical course, and with Glyn, Jack Ross, Adam and Jonny on the start line, it looked like there'd be some good competition to be had. After the lap around the cricket field these 4 pulled ahead (Adam eventually) up the first hill, and I was in a class of my own, but maintaining the gap Jonny had on me to 30m as we passed the eponymous Barrel Inn and did a loop on Sir William Hill (possibly not of bookmaker fame). On the climb to the top of the hill I started to close a bit on Jonny, but couldn't keep the pace going and he pulled further ahead on the road past Mompesson's Well. The only bit of technical descending was through the dingy Hollow Brook woods at the end of the course, but I was too far behind to make any ground up and cruised the short final climb and run-in to finish 5th in 44:34. Glyn got his own back from previous races to beat Jack, although I don't know their times (around 42 I'd guess).
The Track on Sir William Hill. This could be considered 'very rough' for most of the race route! (from Flickr)
It was nice to see Tom Jackson (Glossopdale) back on the local scene after some time galevanting down under, although suggesting he looks up ShUOC for training when he moves to Hallam next month could result in him soon being able to kick my arse once again.
This result, whilst pleasing, was much the same as other results this summer. The way Adam and Jonny pulled away suggests I need to do a bit of work on races which are over 6km in length, and I need to develop another gear for fast running sections. I'm looking forward to putting in some quality winter training (I'm going to do some XC and track in the North East, and I might actually plan a rough training schedule! When did I get so dull and conventional? :S) and seeing what happens next year. But there's still plenty of races to be had this year, along with a new area to explore from later this week!
At the top of the first climb - photo courtesy of Lynne at globaltherapies

Some food for thought - just read this great article by Andrew Steele, very promising British 400m runner (edged under 45secs in 2008) and his battle with Epstein-Barr/Chronic Fatigue.

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Sedbergh Hills Race

Whilst I'm racing fairly well in short races recently, I'm fully aware that I don't do enough long stuff - even medium races are quite rare: most of my races are over well within 50minutes (often 40!), and out of 19 fell races this year only 4 have taken over an hour (Kinder Trial, Edale Skyline, Kinder Downfall, Coniston). I said at the beginning of the year that I started wanting to go longer but it's not quite happened to the level I wanted. With this in mind, and it being a Pennine champs race I decided to head up to Sedbergh in the Howgills for the Hills race. Also a counter in the British and English championships (my first champs race), at 14 miles the distance wasn't really a problem, but the 6000ft was!

As started the ascent to Arant Haw (CP1) the sun came out and I was wishing I'd put some sun cream on - but thankfully the cloud cover soon returned, with clag touching the higher summits. I started slowly as I was fully aware of burn-out on the mainly runnable (cropped crass) but unrelenting course. By the summit I'd reeled in Steve and Muir, but couldn't shake Muir as I minced a bit on the descent and he went away on the steep climb to Castley Knotts (CP2). By now I was at the back of a group and didn't want to be dropped, as the next group were quite a way behind. I managed to stay in contact but it was much harder work than I would have liked. The paths to CP3 undulate more than you think and I was having problems getting into a rhythm. We then hit the main cross-country leg, 3km with 3 substantial ridges to cross to CP4. There's some route-choice but most of us did the same thing with only a few minor deviations in line. The contour-trods here (and throughout the rest of the course to a lesser extent) were a little muddy and so really slippery, I'm very surprised I didn't stack it, the amount of slips I had. Towards the end of the leg I took a slightly different route to those around me so as to not gain too much height, but got caught in a land-slip area before ending up too high above the control.
The slippy trods towards CP3 (From NFR Website). Easier than the ones to CP4, which are at an angle downhill.

Before the race I'd decided to start pushing from CP4 on the long, steady climb up to the Calf (CP5) after a pee-break I overtook a couple of guys straight away but couldn't make any ground on Muir's group up ahead. Two guys pulled away, but by the end of the climb I'd managed to get back to him - driven on by cheers of 'C'mon Jackie' for the first Lady who was just behind me. Off the Calf I knew it was basically all downhill and I managed to dig in as planned (although not to the extent as I'd like), catching people and running through them. Looking at my watch I knew that 2 of my loose targets before the race (the sub 150mins and beating the women's record at 2:28ish) weren't going to happen today, but if I kept catching people a top 70 was on the cards. Off Winder (the final summit and CP6) I knew I had to be careful in getting the right line off, but I drifted too far right. I didn't lose much time or any places but it sort of summed up my race - OK, but not quite there.
However, I managed to get into the top 70 (69th, whay!) in my first attempt at a Champs race - a placing I'm pleased with considering I felt OK, but not great.
The route with my GPS trace on it (Quickroute). There's a gradient-colour bar in the top RH corner, but basically the darker the green the faster I'm gong; the darker the red the slower I'm going (Dark green = 3.5min/km; Dark Red = 9+min/km).
The race was won by Morgan Donnelly in 2:02. I took 2:31:49 and was 4th Pennine with Adam (2:23), Dave (2:28) and Muir (2:31) ahead of me.
Next up - a few weeks rest before building up to the Relays (hopefully I'm selected), then on to winter training!

Saturday, 20 August 2011

Eccles Pike Fell Race

I was looking forward to this race, a blast up and down Eccles Pike from the Navvy at Buggy, a favourite pub from my younger years as the son of a Morris Man. A few days previously I'd made a concious decision to take this one fairly seriously and push hard throughout, as often in races I find myself taking it a bit too easily on the uphills early in the race in anticipation for the last 1/3rd and the finish sprint. Having not been up Eccles Pike since a may-day sunrise more than a decade previous (Morris-dancing father again...) I took advantage of my (fast running out) time off with a bike-ride over to Buggy via the Roych, before having a quick scout of the route (flags were already out at 12!) and a look at the view, as I knew I wouldn't get a look later!
Combs Resser from Eccles PIke (pinched from geograph.org.uk)

 I took a bit of a nap (oversleeping a bit) before riding out (flat way this time). I was hoping for either a really strong field to test myself against, or a weaker one to do some pot-hunting. Looking at previous results I was expecting the former and I wasn't disappointed - a quality field for a summer holiday Wednesday evening: Jack Ross from Staffs Moorlands (17, whippet!), Glyn from Glossopdale, Simon Harding (Macc), DazH, Adam, Dan, Noel, Dave, Muir and Steve (all Pennine), Jonny Wilson (FatBoys) and a few from Altringham - including Olivia Bush - getting first-ladied for the first time in 13 months was a definite possibility!

In the wait for the starters to arrive a Wasp stung me on the finger - thankfully it got me after I'd slapped it off my face.
 I took it out quite hard from the start, trying to avoid the banter starts (and, alas, the sneaky short-cuts) inevitable in a pinch-point so early on in a short race. Onto the road in 3rd I let Dan and Jack get away a bit, with Simon and a couple of others coming past after the bridge and Adam as we hit the first bit of climb. Across the fields I was in touch but was expecting Glyn and Jack to go off the front, and they took Simon with them. I don't remember the fielded climb, other than that I saw the shadow of someone just behind be and knew it was Daz. Across the road and onto a flatter section I was holding Adam and Dan's group at about 20-30m, although Jon and another did come past. Onto the final steep climb up to the summit and I felt really light and springy and managed to get back on terms with Adam, Dan and a couple of others fairly quickly, feeling much more supple and springy than normal. Daz was still just behind me and gave us all some encouragement as we started hands-on-kneesing as we got closer to the top. I just made out Chris in her marshall's bib before, finally in a race, managing to surge off the top of a climb the way Jackie Lee did to me at last year's May Queen race. I started the descent in 5th place about 20m behind Dan and took the first part of the descent fairly easy to not risk my ankle and catch my breath - with guys like Daz, Adam and Tom Bush behind me my record of never being overtaken on a descent was in serious jeopardy!
Looking at Adam's bum(...) whilst approaching the summit of Eccles Pike (taken by Geoff Briggs)
 Onto the flattish bit I kept Dan within striking distance and didn't look behind me. As we entered the fields Dan made a slight mistake, making to head right. He was still ahead of me but I knew this was where I had to strike, overtaking him on the rapid descent through the fields. Onto the slightly uphill field and I could just see Glyn in 3rd about 30 seconds ahead. I know it's impossible to catch him but by trying I'll be less likely to be caught by those chasing hard behind - as (I presume) they're in a bit of a pack they'll be able to push each other along, making it easier to reel me in.
 Hitting the road I have a quick look behind and can't see (or hear) anyone, but as we turn towards the bridge I have a sneaky look back and can see that Tom Bush has taken Dan and is closing a bit. I suck up and keep going, knowing that I have to put my all into the last little raise after the pub. Thankfully I have enough ground and my slight-uphill-drag running is sufficiently good enough that I don't get caught, finishing 4th in 23:54, 1:22 behind the eventual winner (and new-course new record setter) Jack Ross (results).
I think this was my best all-around Fell Race performance, but then again in races around the 5km mark you just have to go for them - there's no tactics! I was pleased I was able to keep on going for longer than normal uphill and with how I pushed off the top of the climb (although there's still still some work to be done on both these aspects!). It was also really pleasing to be at the head of the group I'm normally at the back off - staying there will take some hard work though!

A great turn-out and performance from the Pennine crowd - the usual Vet prize horde along with 7 runners in the top 20 of a fairly loaded field. I'm really looking forward to the relays later in the year - although there's likely to be an almighty scrap for places in the team!
Here's my GPS/Hr trace - Note that shortly after the descent my HR monitor slipped and started measuring my belly-button, hence the 'elevated' readings towards the end!

Needless to say, Sedbergh will be a different kettle of fish!

Thursday, 18 August 2011

WOC Sprint and Classic.

Tuesday saw Swedish and Swiss dominance in the Sprint distance, whilst Wednesday saw the French and Swedish triumph.

There were some disqualification-based shenanigans after the morning's qualifying races, but once they were eventually 'resolved' we were treated to a cracking final in the fast, narrow and testing streets of Chambery.
In the women's race the Swedish trio of Linnea Gustafsson, Helena Jansson and Lena Eliasson swept the medals, finishing 25 seconds clear of 4th place. For GB Sarah Rollins finished in 13th place, 1.07 back, with Tessa Hill and Hollie Orr finishing in 22nd and 26th respectively.
Linnea Gustaffson, Helena Jansson and Lena Eliasson (from WorldofO.com)
In the men's race the Swiss Daniel Hubmann and Matthias Mueller were separated by the Swiss-based Swede Anders Holmberg. Hubmann was 26 seconds clear, with 4th placed brit Graham Gristwood being 17 seconds off the medals. In a great GB performance GG was backed up by Scott Fraser in 9th (having initially been DQ'd from the quali he only found out he'd made the final with an hour or so to spare) and Murray Strain in 12th. Swede favourite Jerker Lysell let the pressure get to him and missed out control 18 entirely.
Daniel Hubmann (from WorldofO.com)

Classic Distance.
In the men's race the French compounded their superiority in qualification with Thierry Gueorgiou taking  Gold by 4:27, and Francois Gonon taking Bronze, Finland's Pasi Ikonen separating the 2. Gonon's medal is quite impressive - starting 6mins ahead of Gueorgiou he made a big mistake early on and was passed by his compatriot. However, some superb splits followed, allowing him to get back together with Tero and they worked together all the way to the finish. The winning time of 1:47 was more than 10minutes longer than expected on a challenging course in sweltering conditions.
It wasn't such a great day for the Brits with Doug Tullie and Oli Johnson suffering to finish outside the top 30.
(men's map with GPS playback of the runners is available here)

In the women's race Annika Bilstam (Swe) ran a fantastic race and took Gold with a 4:28 gap back to Dana Brozkova (Cze), Helena Jansson (Swe) picking up her 2nd medal of the championships with Bronze. Podium Potentials Minna Kauppi (Fin) and Emma Claesson( Swe) both made big mistakes en-route to control #1, the former giving up and returning to the finish and the later finishing well down the final results. The British Trio of Helen Palmer, Rachael Rothman and Claire Ward finished between 23rd and 31st in another tough, overplanned course.

Middle and Relay Predictions.
The vast majority of the big names have made it through to the final on Friday, although Pasi Ikonen (Fin) and Heidi Bagstevold (Nor) missed out in qualification. Picking winners proves difficult, but Theirry Gueorgiou must be favourite to become the first man to win middle and long at the same WOC. Challenges will come from Peter Oberg (Swe), Reigning champion Carl Waaler Kaas (Nor), Anders Nordberg (Nor) and Valentin Novikov (Rus) although Oberg will have an advantage having not raced the long final. GBR's Matt Crane and Graham Gristwood both qualified, but Oli Johnson missed out.
In the Women's race the Swedish Trio of Jansson, Billstam and Eliasson will be challenged by Kauppi (Fin), Brozkova (Cze), Rantanan (Fin) and Andersen (Nor). GB's Hollie Orr and Rachael Rothman qualified well, with Claire Ward missing out.

As for the Relays, Sweden will be challenged by Finland and Cze in the women's, with Norway being an outsider. In the men's France will be big favourites, but Sweden, Norway, Russia and Switzerland will also field strong teams. GB have a good chance of good results in both.

Sunday, 14 August 2011

WOC 2011 - Long Contenders.

Qualification for the long distance took place yesterday on the Les Creusates map. Whilst still difficult terrain this area didn't seem to match the model and training areas as much as expected - rough slopes and steep open meadows more indicative of some Swiss maps.

In the 3 Men's qualification races it was the French trio of Francois Gonon, Thierry Gueorgiou and Phillipe Adamski who set the bar, winning their heats by 0:55, 6:08 and 3:12 respectively on courses which proved winning times up to 9 minutes over those expected. With 15 out of approximately 40 qualifying from each heat none of orienteering's big names missed the cut despite mistakes being made in the forest.
Men's Qualifying B - Thierry Gueorgiou's route (from live.woc2011.fr)
Aside from the exemplary French showing, the Russian team qualified well, all finishing within the top 5, the Swiss trio all finished inside the top 6 and the Norwegians, Swedes and Fins all qualifying well. For the Brits, Oli Johnson and Doug Tullie both qualified in 10th place, with Hector Haines missing out in 17th place by 3.5mins.
British Long Distance Champion Doug Tullie qualified in 10th place (from WorldofO.com)

You can never be entirely sure how much the top guys are holding back in the qualifiers, making picking a winner for Wednesday's final dificult. That said, I can't look further that Thierry Gueorgiou. The 'King of the Middle Distance' has made it no secret that he wants gold in the classic and he appears to have the correct technique for this terrain. As for the rest of the podium there's 6 or so who could get up there. The Norwegians Olav Lundanes (defending long-distance champion) and Anders Nordberg (2010 silver) are long distance specialists, the Fins Pasi Ikonen and Tero Fohr are experienced, as is the Russian Valentin Novikov. Swiss all-rounder Daniel Hubmann (2008 and 2009 champion) can never be discounted, along with Adamski and Gonon with home advantage and confidence from their qualifying performances.

Tero, Thierry Gueorgiou, favourite for WOC Classic (and middle) Gold (from WordlofO.com)
No surprises in the Women's Qualifying either. Smaller fields than the men's races meant all the big names qualified without major issues. With Simone Niggli not in France, and Marianne Andersen not racing the long,  Helena Jansson (Swe), Dana Brozkova (Cze), Minna Kauppi (Fin) Emma Claesson (Swe), Eva Jurenikova (Cze), Signe Soes (Den) and Merja Rantanen (Fin) are my picks for the top 6. 
All 3 British Women qualified, Rachael Rothman and Claire Ward in 6th place, with Helen Palmer squeezing in in 15th.
Signe Soes (Den) (from WorldofO.com)

Saturday, 13 August 2011

World Mountain Running Champs Trials, Witton Park.

I thought I'd head up to Blackburn to test myself against the best. We had a 12.9km, 500-odd course which was all runnable. 3 big loops, with a smaller loop of the top of the hill halfway through the 1st lap.
I was aware that I didn't want to set off too quickly, but looking at my splits to the top of the hill I suffered on the last 2 ascents, being more than a minute slower than my the first uphill. However I managed to gain time and ground on the fast tracky descents. Unfortunately my poor uphills meant I couldn't quite dip under the hour mark, finishing in 323nd (of 45) in 60.21, the race being won by James McMullan in 48:40 - so I was about 1min/km down on the frontrunners. The results from all races are here.
Lizzie Adams winning the Women's Senior race by 1min 30-odd.

ShUOC's own Bommy-T (on the right)

Your's truly enjoying it a bit too much at the end of lap 2. 

Thursday, 11 August 2011

WOC 2011 Preview pt.2 - Sprint Contenders.

So, despite the fairly unpredictable nature of orienteering, here's some of my WOC predictions, based mainly on conjecture and rumour, but the cold hard facts of recent results, IOF runner ranking and WorldofO.com's ranking system (which also separates accoring to different disciplines) may also be taken into account! Seeing as WorldofO.com have not yet mentioned who they're tipping to do well, and the start lists are yet to be published so I'm not entirely sure who's running what, I'm sticking my neck out somewhat!

Sprint: Aix-les-Bains (Qual) and Chambery (Final), Tuesday 16th August.
Trying to predict who will win in each class is pretty ridiculous (at WOC2010 in Trondheim, the top 7 men were separated by 7.4 seconds, with the women's gold being decided by 0.7 seconds); as appraisal of the main contenders seems more sensible.
Chambery old-town (from WOC2011 website), part of the sprint final map.

The first sprint rounds of this year's World Cup (WC) were dominated by the Swiss, rounding out the top 5 in the first race (with 2 more in the top 10) and 4 of the top 8 in the 2nd round knock-out sprint. there team is unbelievably strong: defending champion Matthias Muller, 1st year senior Matthias Kyburz (winner, WC 2011#1 and 2009 JWOC sprint champion), Daniel Hubmann (4 WOC sprint medals, many podiums at WC races), Fabian Hertner (European sprint champion, silver in WOC '09 and '10 sprints) and Matthias Merz.
Outside of the land of Toblerone, the Swedish sprint specialist Jerker Lysell (Winner, WC 2011 #2) and Norwegian sprint specialist Oystein Kvaal Osterbo (4th WOC 2010) will head strong Scandinavian delegations, with the Russian Andrey Khramov (2008 & 2009 champion) always dangerous.
Potential outsiders (here comes some nepotism!) include Britain's Scott Fraser, Graham Gristwood and sprint specialist Murray Strain, France's Frederic Tranchand (surprise bronze in 2010) and Lucas Basset (JWOC 2011 Gold) or the Czech Stepan Kodeda (JWOC 2008 Gold). Then again, you can never discount anyone from having a stormer (I know it's a cop-out!)
I'm going to stick my neck out and go for a 2xSwiss and Lysell podium.
Jerker Lysell (from WorldofO.com) at WOC2010 Sprint (11th place) - now with the mockers put on his chances!
Reigning champion (and 17-times world champion in all disciplines, 5 in sprint) Simone Niggli (Sui) is not in France this year as she's expecting her second child, leaving Sweden's Helena Jansson (2nd last year by 0.7 seconds; 2009 champion) the stand-out favourite. Competition will come from the the other Swedish runners, I'm assuming 2 of  Linnea Gustafsson (WC#1 Winner), Lena Eliasson (WC#1 2nd) and Annika Billstam (WC#1 3rd), Norwegian all-rounder (and perpetual 2/3rd place runner) Marianne Andersen (WOC 2010 3rd) and Finnish all-rounder Minna Kauppi (2x sprint silvers, 7x WOC champion). Even with Kauppi and Jansson missing the early-season WC races due to injusy, I'm going for both to medal, along with Gustafsson, but, as Australia's Hanny Allston showed by winning whilst still a junior in 2006, anything can happen, and has!
Minna Kauppi (from WorldofO.com) at WOC 2010 Sprint (4th place) - mad as a box of frogs but pretty damn fine. You can find more pictures on her website ;)
As for the British girls, the experienced Sarah Rollins (5-times British Sprint champion), along with WOC second- and first-timers respectively Hollie Orr (current British Sprint champion) and Tessa Hill (11th place WC#1) all have an excellent chance of making the top 20.

I'll update with Long and Middle contenders after those respective qualifying races have taken place (Saturday and Sunday respectively)

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Preview - World Orienteering Championships 2011.

This year's 28th World Orienteering Championships (WOC) are being held next week in the alpine foothills of the Savoie-Grand Revard region of France, centred around the towns of Chambery and Aix-les-Baines. In competition between the 13th-20th August, runners from 49 countries will compete in the 28th (by my counting!) WOC, fighting it out in the 8 (current) world championship disciplines - Sprint, Middle Distance, Long (Classic) Distance and Relay for both men and women.
During the week it will also be decided whether Scotland (YAY!) or Sweden (Boo!) will host WOC 2015.

The Forest Terrain.
Without beating about the bush - it's rough as a badger's arse and about as technical as it gets!
Swedish test race on Le Revard II, neighbouring the competition areas. From Olle Karner (Estonian runner) webpage.
The wealth of contour detail (mainly negative Karst-like features), altitude between 1200 and 1500m, along with rough underfoot conditions (rocky and covered in brashings, by all accounts) make running quickly and navigating cleanly tough on their own - let alone together! Add to that some 'iffy' sections of map on the training areas in which some of the best in the world have ditched 10+ minutes on one control, and the picture as to how hard it is starts to become clearer.
  However, with estimated winning speeds being much less than those seen in test races, coupled with new mapping of the WOC areas by the Romanian Marian Cotirta, suggest that the actual race areas are that bit kinder physically and the maps (hopefully!) a better representation of the terrain than experienced previously.
La Feclaz - part of the area used for the Middle and Long finals and the Relay - more open ground (both meadow and ski-slopes) on the map than in the surrounding training areas suggests WOC competitors will experience slightly easier running, although the forest still looks green, rough and rocky! (all old maps of WOC2011 areas are here).
The Sprint Terrain.
2010 Sprint Gold Medalist Matthias Muller (Sui). Picture courtesy of WorldofO.com
This year's sprint races are again an urban/parkland and forest mix. The qualification in Aix-les-Bains appears to be a more wooded affair, whilst the maps of the final areas in Chambery suggest a mixture of old-town alleyway hunting and hilly parkland-cum-forest.
Sprint Quali area - parkland and woodland.
Part of the sprint final area, Chambery old town. 'Traboules' is the French version of  gynel (sp).
The Programme.
WOC starts with Long and Middle distance Qualification on Saturday 13th and Sunday 14th, respectively. The Sprint races will be on Tuesday 16th, qualification in the morning, finals in the afternoon/evening. The Long Distance final is on Wednesday 17th, Middle on Friday 19th before the champs are wound up with the usual finale of the relays on Saturday 20th, before the post-WOC banquet...

Coming soon - some conjecture as to who may win, and British team hopes (they're the same things, right?!)

Sunday, 7 August 2011

Scottish 6 Days of Orienteering, Oban 2011

Every 2 years the majority of the British O community, along with a fair few from shores of varying proximity (Europe, USA, Down Under and so on) decamps to Scotland for a week of top notch competition and socialising. This year all 6 days were in the area surrounding Oban on the Scottish West Coast - intricate contour detail and a mix of open and forest was expected. I was running the toughest course of the week - M21 Elite. There proved to be quite a battle at the bottom of the standings in which I played my part! Here's a brief overview of the week, including maps and quickroutes - I'm using this blog to host the pictures, but there'll be more technical analysis (and boy do I need it!) on my attackpoint training log in due course.
Melfort Harbour, South of Oban.

Day 1 - Dunollie and Dunstaffnage.
An OK start to the week on a mainly open area with a few patches of wood, but nothing more. I overshot a few controls and took a few rougher, slower routes. I'd like to have been a bit more confident but a good basis. 79:05mins - Oli won in 56:34.
Day 1 with route (map already drawn on)
Day 2 - Ardnaskie, Middle Distance.
Middle Distance races tend to go one of 2 ways for me - really well or really poor, normally the latter being more prevalent. I knew this area would be tough technically, having been used for WOC selection races, and it didn't disappoint! Vague contour and vegetation detail resulted in lots of mistakes. I started with a big (3.5-4min) mistake to number one, managed to run well to 10, after which it all fell apart, especially to the last control. 52:44 mins, 21mins down on Oli, a ridiculous amount for a middle distance!
Day 2 - a bit of a 'mare.
Day 3 - Creag Mhic, Classic Distance.
I was really looking forward to this day - a classic area by all accounts, again used for WOC selections. 14.5km with 825m climb (straight line) over rough open, vague woods and a wealth of contour detail on a 1:15k map scale to add to the challenge. I set off steadily - no point in wasting energy - but wasn't making any big mistakes until #7 where I went round in circles and made a parallel error on a marsh, loosing around 7 minutes. I had a few people to run with during the meat of the course (10-19) and managed to limit mistakes (bar a banana to #20), although the effort, both mentally and physically, meant I lost bits of time here and there. I was out for just over 2.5 hours - Oli was out for a mere 96 minutes!
Creag Mhic Classic Distance.

Thankfully we had a rest day after this, went on a boat and saw some whirlpools and the Paps of Jura (from a distance).

Day 4 - Torinturk.
Fairly steep open hillside (a bit of woodland to start) today, A bit leggy, a few mistakes at the beginning and not quite as quick as I'd have liked on the fell. Only 1 big-ish error between 16 and 17 but otherwise fairly pleased. Hector won in 58:44. I ran 81:05.
Day 4 - Chasing Start.
Day 5 - Lochnell and Shenavallie.
Dead on my feet today and did not enjoy this, although I might have had it not been for the grotty first 5 controls. After this I didn't really care and lost a lot of time to those around me in the overall standings. I was out for over 90 mins whilst Spongey did 55:46!

Day 6 - Ardchattan.
I felt much better for the last day, knowing that the area should suit me. I was hoping to gain some time on those around me in the overall results, maybe even gaining a few places. However this went out the window on the first control as I binned 6 minutes being too far up the hill and unable to relocate quick enough, allowing my 3- and 6-minute men to pass me. However I now started to Orienteer properly and run really well, reeled them in and dropped them on route-choice to #10. I dropped a couple of daft minutes at number 17 but was pleased with my run even with my mistakes - I actually felt like I was Orienteering and racing properly. I took 83 minutes (should have been closer to 75), Spongey ran 59 mins to take the overall title.

Plenty to work on but I really enjoyed my week. I finished 44th out of 49 people who completed all 6 days, nearly 3 hours (!) down on Spongey who won. 538 minutes of Orienteering - some good points to take away, but some iffy bits I need to iron out - more practise needed.