Chiltern Challenge and SCOA Champs 2021, Hambleden

Level B

23rd May 2021

SCOA Championship medallists

Organiser's Comments

If you had seen an early draft of the Final Details, you would have seen warnings like, “in very hot weather, make sure you bring enough fluids”, and “be prepared to carry liquids on your run”, and “avoid dehydration”. It must be my fault that we have had such a cold and wet May.

The field was OK on Friday morning. We got the marquee and toilets set up OK. But as the day progressed and the rain continued, it became clear that “Plan B” might be needed if we were going to get over 500 cars onto the field. And, more importantly, off again.

Fortunately, the estate had the drier, firmer field available on the other side of Dairy Lane. A decision was made at about 5pm on Friday to switch to that field. The downside (other than a slightly longer walk to the Start) was that the traders also had to relocate to the car park field, leaving the marquee, toilets and Finish somewhat marooned, “out on their own”. But at least the event could go ahead. And a relocation of the medal ceremony seemed to work well between the showers!

At least all this meant that my worries about COVID could take a back seat. Our Bradenham event last month was a great dress-rehearsal for Hambleden. Thanks for Organiser of that event, Alun Jones, and Jon Wheatcroft, for beating a path on this matter for me.

And thanks, as ever, to Alan Rosen (the Controller) and all the TVOC Team Leaders and volunteers who helped to put this event on. Jon Wheatcroft had to organise three Starts. And Alun Jones’s efforts on all the registration, Fabian4, start lists and results etc. are always above and beyond the call of duty. I should also thank my jury (and reserve) who stood by waiting for any issue to arise. Thankfully there were none. So thanks to everyone who helped. And thanks, of course, to the Hambleden estate and its staff. Event manager, Camila Bentley and Gamekeeper, Brad Smith have both been fantastic.

This is the last visit to Hambleden for a couple of years. Rumour has it that the British Relay Championship might be here in 2023. If so, we hope to see you here again then.

John Dalton

Lost property. Please contact me if you want it back!
• Umbrella from the car park
• Bum bag
• Phone from the woods (but I think it has actually been on the ground for some time)
• Compass
• Blue glove from near the Starts

Planner's Comments

Covid saw a couple of postponements to the date (from March to April to May) and in the end we opted for a date in late May as most likely to go ahead. This meant running you through nettles in the lower slopes. It was a compromise and we hope you didn’t get too badly stung.

Hambleden is a lovely area with scope to offer long legs with good route choice whilst also having lots of control sites for short legs. The start and finish had to be close to assembly and the start had to be split into 3 separate starts to allow for up to 1000 competitors. So it was agreed that all starts would be located in the NW corner of assembly. We toyed with having taped routes to 3 close by (100m) distant start flags so that competitors waiting to start could not see where departing runners were headed. This would require lots of start officials and we decided in the end to run you to a first control common to all courses departing from that particular start in order to give nothing away regarding which way to go for the start. This was applied to 6 TD5 courses from starts 2 and 3. Then the second controls were all different allowing us to split the competitors on these courses. With only 2 starters per minute this seemed to work well.

We would like to thank Controller Alan for some good challenges which improved the courses and for his constant attention to detail. His suggestion to clear paths through the nettles however did not get much traction. Thanks to the excellent efforts of the TVOC volunteer army without whom an event of this size could not have taken place. In particular we’d like to thank Bob and Pattie and Nev for helping us put out controls on the Saturday. Nev was injured in the line of duty and we hope he makes a swift recovery. Lastly we'd like to thank you the competitors for turning up and for your kind comments and feedback. The discussions on the long legs along the technical east facing slope were most interesting.

Peter and Mark

Controller's Comments

This was probably the first major event for most people for many months and, from the comments, TVOC's hard work to put the event on was much appreciated, so well done to organiser John D, planners Mark and Peter, mappers Mark and John F and all the TVOC helpers.

The event was scheduled for mid-March, hence the unwelcome nettles in May - you were all remarkably sanguine about the stings and particular praise must go to the early starters.

Many people said that they enjoyed the more technical legs and some (rightly) paid the price for not being careful enough on those controls where the cost of losing contact with the map was high. We deliberately hung the controls high, partly to overcome the lower visibility due to the extra vegetation but also because the challenge should be more about navigating the leg successfully than searching for a hidden control flag.

The control on the thicket at 137 was not well placed so apologies to anyone who lost any time on it.

Although planners, mappers and controller probably made fewer visits to the area than normal due to lockdown, when we did visit, the wildlife was always worth seeing - wallabies, countless deer and hares and all of the birdlife, and it was nice to see the deer already back in the parts of the woods we had used as the controls were being taken in.

Alan Rosen