If this your first event, don’t worry, there will be helpful club members who will explain what to do. They will either be wearing hi-viz tops or TVOC jackets. But the following are some useful tips.
Have a look at a map beforehand by clicking here. In particular, look at the legend. The colours are not what you will be used to. You will see that most of the map is light yellow – rough open land – so you can run on it but it can be hard going. There are some patches of yellow – open land – but not much. And there are some patches of white and green – white is runnable forest, whilst green is fairly unpenetrable – best to stay out of the latter! Can you spot where the windmill is?
Make sure you recognise the symbols for areas not to enter and not to cross.
What to wear
You must cover your torso and legs. So no shorts. Running tights are good, or you could just wear old trousers.
Some of the paths are quite muddy, so you will need trail shoes – or wellies if you are planning on walking round.
What to bring
A compass is really useful. We have a few we can lend out, and we will have some for sale for just £4. (Please bring the exact money.)
What to do
Park on the Common as directed. There is no charge.
There is a toilet in the parking area if you need it.
You will almost certainly be hiring an SI card (timing chip). Look out for a tent with a sign saying SI card hire – it’s on the way to the Start. If you have your own card, you can bypass the tent and go straight to the Start.
Our hire cards have a strap, to attach the card to your finger. They also have a loop of cord. Put your wrist through this cord. It’s a safety device, in case you card slips off your finger. Lost cards will be charged at £65, and we really don’t want to have to charge you.
Ask any of the people with hi viz or TVOC jackets for help and advice. They will show you how to use the SI card, how to orientate your map, etc
At the Start
Collect your map. Yellow, Orange and Red maps are before the Start, so you can have a look at them first. And perhaps ask some advice from one of the helpers.
Look at the map, check the map scale, its a really big scale. You should be able to spot the main features: the houses nearby, the road, the fenced area. These features will help you navigate. And note the masses of contours – navigating by them takes some practice!
When you are ready to start, there are four ‘stations’ in a row. Work your way along them in turn:
Clear – dip you card into the hole in the station. Make sure the station beeps.
Check – dip you card into the hole in the station. Make sure it beeps. If you are using a SI Air card (all our hire ones are Air), this station turns on the Air function.
Air on test (for SI Air cards only) – as you bring your SI Air card near the station, the card should beep and flash. If by chance it doesn’t, just dip your card into the hole in the station.
Start – dip your card into the hole in the station. Make sure it beeps. Your time starts now!
Now you can begin. Use the map to navigate between the checkpoints (we call them controls). If it’s your first event, you might want to stick to the paths and fences, rather than take ambitious cross-terrain routes. It’s a great feeling when you run around a bend in a path to find your first control.
If you’ve got a compass, that’s helpful to to orientate the map, ie keep the lines on the map parallel with the needle on the compass. That means the map is lined up with the ground, so the paths you can see go in the direction shown on the map. Try always to keep the map correctly orientated.
When you get to your first control, check its number matches your control description. If it doesn’t, then you are in the wrong place! If it does, and you have an Air card, just waft it over the control station. (With older cards, you have to dip them into the hole.) Check the card beeps, then head for the next control.
You must punch the controls in order. If you unintentionally take the controls out of order (eg. you somehow went to the third control and punched and missed out the second), don’t worry, just go back to the missed control, punch that, then continue the course in the correct order (yes you have to punch the third control again in this example).
When you’ve punched the final control, head for the Finish.
At the Finish
Waft your SI card over the Finish station. You will then be asked to punch a safety control.
Have a quick breather, to get your breath back!
Follow signs to the download tent, where you will be asked to put your SI card into a card reader. You will receive a printout showing your time, both overall and between each control.
Note that you must go to download, even if you did not finish your course. We will check who started, and who has downloaded, to see if anyone is missing. Fail to download and we will be out searching for you.
After the event
And look out for our next event – it’s at Hodgemoor Woods (between Amersham and Beaconsfield).
Even better, do join us. It’s only £16 for seniors, and that gives you membership through to the end of 2022. You will be joining British Orienteering as well as TVOC – so you will benefit from reduced entry fees at most clubs, and a host of other benefits.