Wednesday, 19 November 2008

O-a-blog™ (LOK, Holmbury)

Sunday, 24 February 2008

opic1I was up with the lark (well, almost) and off to the excellent London Orienteering Klubb (LOK) regional event at Holmbury. As I've mentioned before my orienteering is still not yet that well-organized, especially with regard to entering in advance for these bigger events: foolishly, I'm thinking about them days rather than weeks in advance - this does not work well. So I'd missed the deadline, they'd run out of entries for the correct-age courses I should've been looking at, but I still ended up running (in another class) due to the kindness and good organization of the LOK person doing the entries - he was publishing lists of what maps were still available, confirming by email, and so on, pretty much right up to the last minute.

Running out of my class meant I was non-competitive for that event but it's not a huge problem unless you're into badges and leagues and stuff - otherwise a run is a run is a run. Obviously it would be better if I were in the right class, for plenty of reasons, but no great harm is done by the occasional abberation.

It was a nice setup, with good parking, lovely café facilities run by the local school PTA (tea, cake and burgers, basically), loos, a shop and so on. This is one of the advantages of being at a larger event. I mean I like the little local events too, but there's something nice about the sense of occasion, about seeing more people, from a wider range of other clubs (sometimes there are club banners up in the car park too) and so on - it does give me, unusually, a bit of a feeling of belonging. This is particularly so when I'm greeted, by name, by people from my own club, when I'd assumed that I was probably mostly invisible to them. This happened at Holmbury and was very pleasant.

It also gives a bit of an answer to my oft-revisited worry "do I look a twit for wearing a club top?" I mean, yes, of course I do (as in it I resemble half a ton of pork sausages forced into a nylon pillowcase), and I'm not generally into uniforms, DJs for orchestral concerts notwithstanding. But at orienteering events it does identify me as a club member, and indeed (if you can forgive me the er er meta-ness) as someone who wants to be identified as a club member, which I think probably increases the likelihood of my being said hello to, which can, I feel, only be a good thing.

So anyway (anyway) I wandered along to registration - the parking was all spread out along forest roads so it was a fair walk - and claimed my Course 7 place which had been reserved for me by Mr Nice LOK Bloke, then trekked back to the start. I should maybe mention that registration was beautifully quiet, with no queue - on these bigger events most people are pre-registered and pre-paid, so they can just go straight to the start with no further formalities required. Hence registration only has to mop up some EOD people, those who owe money or need to hire a dibber, oddities like me, and so on.

And off we go. It was wonderful. I've left far too long a gap before writing this, so I can't remember that much detail. I do, though, recall that it was a nice and interesting area, with plenty of variety, and that I enjoyed it very much.

With the aid of a quick look in my Magic O Box Of Facts I can add that I wasn't very fast that day, and that even if I'd been competing in the course/class I did, I'd have only scraped into the top 75% - not hugely impressive. Oh well. I seem to have been particularly slow from 11 to 12: please see the picture above - it's a fair distance, yes, but not that far and I wonder whether I perhaps also got lost a bit en route? Hmmm.

The nice thing about going orienteering south of London is that although it's a bit of a trek compared to my local events in Herts, Essex or wherever, it tends to increase my chances of bumping into my Bruvver especially if he has also trekked a mile or several north of his usual SO patch. (Yes, Tamsin dear, this is a good thing - we have not actually fought physically since about 1962, which seems like a reasonably sound basis for a relationship.) And so it was on this occasion - I was just into some complex sequence of Advanced Mobile Telephony when the person whom I was trying to contact just strolled up thereby rendering redundant my technofiddling and permitting a good old gossip of the traditional face-to-face variety. Yeah man.

Chat duly chatted, it was time to bust up the party and head for home. Nice to see you Dr Dave and thank you LOK for a d*mn fine event.

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