Orienteering – Day 30
It’s been over a week since Krav Maga and Tang Soo Do and the combined effort managed to put my back out. Two visits to my Chiropractor later and having to postpone my angling last week, I finally feel ready to take on orienteering. Paul decided to prioritise DIY, which left me in desperate need of a teammate who would be able to read a map - not one of my strong points.
I drafted in my eldest and her friend Lily. I guessed that orienteering would require you to be fleet of foot and cunning in equal measure. Lauren is cunning and Lily is both cunning and fleet of foot, so I emotionally blackmailed them into participating, with me as the token adult patrolling for bears or other hidden dangers. Although with my strained back, I was the one who was most likely to be bear fodder.
The weather forecast spelled doom and gloom, so without imparting this information to them, I encouraged them both to take waterproofs “just in case.” Luckily, pre-teens have an obsession with loom bands, which means they were concentrating on little bits of elastic and not the looming rain clouds.
When we arrived at Lanhydrock, we went to the tent to register and were given instructions as to what it was all about. Basically, there were 13 checkpoints, which required you to enter your key into a letterbox type marker to register the fact you have hit that checkpoint. We were given an OS map, with our targets marked out - some worth one point and others worth five. The hazards on the map were pointed out and we were encouraged to go to the start point. Then the rain started and to precipitate the moaning about precipitation, we detoured to the National Trust cafe for some sugary treats. The girls picked up a packet of fudge and we agreed that if they got to a marker and hadn’t moaned, they would be allowed one fudge each.
Ironically, it took us twenty minutes to actually find the start line and thoroughly disorientated, we started the course. We had one hour exactly to get as many points as possible. We saw other contenders zigzagging the course and the girls’ first strategy was to follow other people. No, I said. That wasn't the spirit of the game. Fast forward 10 minutes later and trekking through a field of ferns and mud divots, we stalked a luminous contender who led us to our first checkout. Bingo! The fudge packet was opened and we set off for the next one full of confidence and sugar.
Between Lauren and Lily, they confidently found a further 4 checkout points, with me mainly acting as a mobile fudge dispensing unit. We reconvened to talk strategy about the next checkpoint: should we go for the easy 1 pointer or, with 20 minutes left, go for the trickier 5 pointer? At this point, I should have maintained my role of guardian; instead, I took the map. Things rapidly went downhill as I took the “as the crow flies” approach, dragging them through bogs, brambles and getting them to traverse fallen trees to get over streams. Like a crazed contender in the Crystal Maze with the impending door closing, I was determined to find the elusive 5 pointer that was “around the next corner.”
Lily started to complain about blisters. Lauren started to whine about her legs getting too tired. I offered them a fudge, they declined - we were in trouble. There were five minutes left. Should I sacrifice the kids to the elements and make a dash for it? If we went over the hour, we would incur penalty points. My feet were sodden and the kids were thoroughly disillusioned with my team leading skills. Damn it, the time was up! We meandered back pondering what we would have done differently: apparently giving me the map was the main problem.
Our key was handed back at the finish line and the scores fed into the system. Out of 28 teams, we came 25th. Not bad given that we started the day fairly clueless. We agreed that with our new found knowledge, we would come back again but with a different strategy. My little ones would also love the smaller courses, so I decided to keep an eye out for any more events. Now, it was time to go home for a bath and the chance to consider what on Earth happened to number 26, 27 and 28 – they must have been eaten by the bears to come behind us.
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