Halton Urban Race

Level C

20th January 2018

Class Results

M Open W Open
M12 W12
M16 W16
M40 W40
M55 W55
M65 W65
M75 W75

Course splits

Course 1 MO
Course 2 WO M40
Course 3 W40 M55
Course 4 W55 M65
Course 5 W65 W75 M75
Course 6 M16 W16
Course 7 M12 W12
Course 8 NJ


Controller's Comments

It was a pleasure to come back to TVOC to control the Halton event, and very interesting to work with an area of such enormous variety. The longest courses went through a series of seven very different kinds of terrain, with the associated changes needed in navigation and route choice.

It was good to work with Dougie Cochrane who, despite being relatively new to orienteering, had offered to be the Organiser for the event, as he is in the army and currently lives on the map. Dougie was able to use his connections and his influence at RAF Halton to achieve significant reductions in the event costs, and ensured that competitors benefited from this, with lower than usual entry fees for a level C event. He also organised access to a large number of warm indoor rooms, which made a massive difference for both helpers and competitors.

The area, which already contained much variety of terrain, was extended for the event by mapper Martin Ricketts to include a housing estate, with narrow, wiggly, roads and some cut-throughs. While the whole area offers varied terrain, the way that each different section joins to the next, with a couple of narrow areas of woodland, poses a series of challenges for any planner. Four bottlenecks were inevitable: two to get courses 1 to 5 safely across the main road twice; one to get them into the camp; and one to get the longest courses out of the camp and onto the lower slopes of Wendover Woods. Adding to that challenge, the junior courses all had to stay within the Halton House grounds, so a large number of controls were needed just within that area. That left the four bottlenecks, and six other significant areas of terrain for the courses to cover, but with a limited number of controls available to maintain the technical standard, and to spread courses out. Nat did an excellent job of it, producing interesting and challenging courses.

Perhaps it would have been even nicer if the housing estate had contained a larger number of sprint-style legs, and perhaps the final section through the old workshop area could have had more controls, and some shorter legs, but the sheer numbers of controls needed to keep courses apart over all the various sections of the area meant that this wasn't feasible. Perhaps a stand-alone sprint could be held in the housing estate at some time.

Creating White and Yellow courses to the correct technical standard is always a challenge, but it was particularly so here. The grounds of Halton House may feel safe and highly suitable for junior courses, but they have very few paths. The planner successfully created suitable courses to the correct technical difficulty, but they were certainly at the adventurous end of the scale, with White course competitors having to leave paths and use vegetation boundaries, and follow streamers at times. Orange was planned to be as difficult as possible within the constraints of the terrain. Competitors were never far from a path, or minor road, or clear vegetation boundary, or obvious buildings, but there was a very large range of times. Those at the front of the results took less than 30 minutes, but there was a long tail of results to well over an hour. Open parkland can be deceptively confusing to navigate through. I hope people didn't get too cold while they were out, and warmed up quickly when they got back.

There were very few problems with controls. Most were put out and checked the day before. Checking every control again on the morning of the event, we discovered that two batteries had gone dead overnight. These were replaced before the first start. And a flag, but luckily not the Emit box, went missing during the competition, and the planner replaced it. An early finisher told us that the last control on his course didn't flash, but we found that it had registered, so a notice to that effect was attached to that control.

Many positive comments were received about the area, the courses, and the great indoor facilities. Add to that: parking on hard-standing, Tom's catering, and kit available to buy from Ultrasport, it was a good day out on a cold, damp January day.

Carol Edwards, BL