Chiltern Challenge

Level B

10th December 2023

The list of medalwinners from today’s SCOA Championships can be found here.

Organiser's Comments

TVOC employs ‘event teams’ who look after various aspects of an event, so getting in touch with the relevant team leaders and stating what you need gets your carparking, registration and a myriad of other tasks done. This leaves the liaison to be done with various landowners for permissions and getting the relevant paperwork sorted. My thanks to the help from the Controller, Mark Foxwell for this. One of the major requirements from the landowner of the parking area was that we could not go on the wild meadow areas which would be uncut. The farm we parked on is the only one in the country that has been designated with local wildlife status for the whole farm. Hence the need to stay off this area that was repeated in initial details, final details and event emails. So it was disappointing that people walked and drove over the area. I understand that the weather had some impact on this, and we were trying not to put too many ruts into the ground.
The weather was unkind, particularly in the assembly field, but was more pleasant out on the courses. All seemed to enjoy the challenges set by the Planner Nigel Bunn. We also had complicated the event by including the SCOA Championships and a Juniors Interland Selection event. Everyone I spoke to enjoyed their outing in the Chilterns, and we hope to see you all at another TVOC event soon, hopefully with better weather.

My thanks to all the helpers and car-pushers, as well as the ever smiling orienteer competitors.

Chris Poole

Planner's Comments

I hope you all enjoyed your runs and found the courses challenging. Having put out most of the stakes and kites on Saturday, I was a bit worried whether some would be blown away in the squally strong winds overnight. However when I set out into the woods, full of owls hooting, at 6:15 am to place the SI boxes on the controls, I was relieved to see they were all still in place and we managed to set up everything in the dry. It is a shame many of you experienced rather wet conditions on your runs.

I would like to especially thank Bob Beresford for producing the excellent updated map surveyed by Bob and Pattie Beresford and Mark Thompson (all TVOC). If you compare this against old maps of the area you will notice the much larger areas of nice white runnable forest south of the road on the Naphill Common area due to recent extensive thinning which also produced the large brashing piles mapped as green crosses. The Naphill area has been used much less often than the Bradenham area North of the road. But now it has been thinned and improved for orienteering, I was keen to get all the more technical courses to use this part of the area including the oldest veteran classes which have rarely ventured this far from the parking field. I think it provided a contrast in style of orienteering between the generally flatter Naphill Common South of the road and the hills of Bradenham/Park Wood on the North side. The junior courses stayed on the North side of the road to avoid a road crossing.

I tried to ensure that most courses had one or two long legs with route choice, as well as technical legs with a number of changes of direction. The complex area of depressions just up from the Far Start was one of the more technical parts of the map so longer courses visited this twice, on the way out from the start and, from a different direction, on the way back before heading to the road crossing. It was interesting seeing people running in all directions across this area.

From both starts and from the road crossing, I split courses up by having 4 different first controls and hope this reduced following. At the Far Start on a track junction, it seemed a number of people were hesitant about the route choice and some others rushed off following people along one of the two tracks before cutting back and taking the other one.

I tried to plan courses that required a variety of techniques in the contrasting parts of the area: South of the road you needed to keep in contact running straight through the flat white forest of Naphill Common and stay on line through the low visibility light green areas of holly. In the second half of the course, after the road crossing there were route choice options influenced by how much energy you had left to take the climbs and rough terrain direct or try to avoid them. I notice that a few people missed or visited the wrong penultimate control just before crossing the fence to the final control on the bench. I guess this is due to loss of concentration when tired and eagerness to follow the stream of people headed for the finish.

As mentioned in the details, heavy leaf fall had made some of the smaller paths less obvious. We had a potential worry for the youngsters on the Yellow course as in a couple of places the path they were meant to be following seemed to almost disappear under the leaves. Therefore the weekend before the event I went out with my garden leaf rake and partially cleared some sections of path to make them easier to follow.

Thanks to Chris Poole for his calm organisation, supported by TVOC’s well-drilled helper teams without whom events like this would not be possible. I am sorry to have increased the workload by having two starts and a road crossing to man ! Thanks also to Mark Saunders and the Talent South Junior Squad for collecting in all the controls. Finally, I would like to thank Mark Foxwell, the Controller, for his thorough checking, pointing out potential problems for me to address but being supportive of my general planning philosophy. I hope you all enjoyed yourselves. Please upload your routes to Routegadget as I am keen to see where you went, where you made mistakes and whether you took any route choices that I hadn’t spotted.

Nigel Bunn