During recent family visits to see their children both John and Adrian co-incidentally managed to find Orienteering Events to run in. John participated in the West of Canada Championships while Adrian along with Jac Stevens completed the Older Dash US Masters Championships.
Older Dash..Boulder Dash. WREKIN Orienteers on tour Adrian Pickles and Jac Stevens.
The Boulder Dash is an annual Orienteering event put on by Up-North Orienteers in New Hampshire, U.S.A.
The cunning event name gives a strong clue about what you will find in the terrain and the event format is a two-day version of our own Springtime in Shropshire. Overall results are determined by total time over both days. For 2019 the US Masters Championships was incorporated into the weekend, so the event was cunningly renamed the Older Dash, despite this the boulders and rocks remained as plentiful as ever.
This year’s venue was Gunstock Mountain, a winter ski resort near Alton, N.H. with a wide range of summer activities also on offer. This enabled the planner to start the longer courses at the top of a ski lift, including the ride-up in the entry fee. The mechanically assisted ascent was replaced by the pull of gravity as the courses descended 220 m in the first 2 kilometres. Despite the steep descent, progress was slow through natural woodland made up of a mixture of deciduous and coniferous trees.
The famous Fall display of autumnal colour was in full swing, so the woods were beautiful with a full range of leaf colours from yellow to deep red covering the trees and the ground. Although there were no nettles or brambles the forest floor of boulders, rocks, grasses, moss and an understorey of shrubs and close growing trees made progress slower than expected.
300 competitors had travelled across the USA and some from Canada. Only two were from Overseas from anywhere else; both WREKIN members. We had travelled further than anyone to be there, but only just, thank goodness no-one came from Alaska or Hawaii. The size of the USA and Canada means a huge commitment of time and money is needed to participate in National events and makes the concept of National Championships challenging. The organisation was helpful and easy for an experienced orienteer to work out. Although my (M60) course was Green, just like a West Midland league event, the colour coding system for courses is quite like, but not the same, as ours. Even in US dollars this was the most expensive event we had ever entered but the event was well done with relatively low numbers.
There were two sociable activities which were different to our way of doing things. One was a bring-and-share table on which people put cakes, crisps, raisins, biscuits, sliced fruit etc. Many conversations started around the sharing table and I met up with some people I last ran against in Devon, back in 1986. It was nice but could be tricky to replicate in November on Titterstone Clee. On the first evening there was an event meal in a school hall, followed by people discussing the race using the course map projected onto a big screen. Although I was a bit wary of this it was quite interesting: Seeing how people lost time was actually more informative than hearing about how people didn’t make mistakes.
The map was very good, the main navigational challenges were implementing your planned route and accurate relocation. Ski-runs provided clues about your position across the slope, but many had diffuse edges and encroaching vegetation which made using them for exact relocation harder. The combination of steep slopes and tough going made it easy to drift off-line and arrive somewhere which could be confusingly similar to the correct location. Good distance judgement, following a bearing accurately and maintaining the correct height were the key factors in successful control finding.
Day 1 Green Course- Fastest Time 47 mins..Adrian Pickles 62
Day 2 Green Course- Fastest Time 47 Adrian Pickles 54.
Results- Jac Stevens ran the Orange(R) course at sort of Light green+ standard and I (Adrian Pickles) ran M60 on the Green course.
I was first M60 on both days some time behind some nippy M55s . Although I didn’t count for the US Champs I was awarded the M60 prize.
The presentation did involve a podium but was definitely a classic Orienteering prize giving i.e. long, mysterious and confusing which WREKIN would do so much better. Prizes were specially made bars of soap, of which I am so proud I haven’t used it yet. There was some debate if there were gold silver and bronze soaps but it was nice to have a useful memento even if it won’t last forever!