O-dear (by Ali) -
Intricate Darnaway Forest contour detail
Here we go again. Yet another pre-China sport returned to with the innocent optimism of someone who should really know better. Last Sunday I returned to the forests of Scotland for a spot of Orienteering. When I last donned lycra and floated swiftly and gracefully through the forests of Scotland I scraped into the M35 age class. These days I just make it into the M45s, which somehow seems considerably older. Anyway, nothing was going to stop me entering the hardest course, especially as Alec (my driver for the day) was gently insisting I do so. I checked in, payed my money, then read the notice: "For experts only. This is a very serious physical and technical challenge that should be attempted only by those with proven stamina and fitness." Mmm, this should be fun!

1 hour 55 minutes later I finished and can honestly say that I enjoyed the run. My longest ever time for a Brown course, but under 2 hours, and only one navigational mistake (soon corrected). On reflection, all I have to do next time is have the confidence to make harder (but quicker) route choices, and of course RUN FASTER!

Uploading a competitors chip at base.
In the old days (only 15 years ago, when I started) you punched a control card with a needle punch and if you were really sophisticated you captured your split times on a stopwatch. What fun we had at the end of the competition, huddled over maps and watches in the carpark comparing routes and times. These days orienteering has gone digital. Electronic chip punching means that everyone's splits are recorded automatically. Go home, log on to your computer, trace your route on the Routegadget map, and run animations comparing yourself with your mates, enemies or the guy who romped home in 71 minutes. Beware though, if your children are watching. I did this and was subjected to hilarity and ridicule: "Dad, you're rubbish! Why are you so SLOW?".

Click on the link below for a good laugh and all the gory details of the animation (needs Java; choose Brown from drop-down menu):

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