Beat The Trail
We've now had two BTT's, which have attracted a mixture of trail runners and orienteers. So how has the new format gone down so far? Thanks to the following report from Devon OC's Martin Yeo, who has run both BTT's to date.
I had enjoyed a 100% effort 5k run on my first Beat the Trail course at Lydeard Hill, and I was expecting more of the same when I registered at Ramscombe North. How wrong I was! With such a large volume of climb, heavily churned footpaths and shortcut opportunities through thick undergrowth, this was both more physical and slower pace than my previous experience - much more like 'normal' orienteering.
Where I stuck to the route, the trail was well marked with pegs (even friends who ran other courses had noticed them). Looking at the splits it seems that the other competitors stuck religiously to the marked route, as I was able to pull out most of my advantage on the legs where orienteering shortcuts were possible. The shortcuts I did take needed confident reading of the compass and the contours, so this course perhaps offered more advantage to experienced orienteers than the one at Lydeard.
For both my BTT attempts these were second runs after running a traditional course. I don't recommend this as it keeps you out the entire time the event is open, with no opportunity for analysis or socialising. BTT feels ideal for groups of novices to attend together, or perhaps a runner and an orienteer friend racing against each other. Given BTT is targetted somewhat at runners, it might be interesting to allow friends to start at the same time for a head-to-head race, or I'd even be curious to see a mass start for the full trail race experience!
There's so much opportunity to vary the format of orienteering races, but this is often an opportunity missed, so it's great to see QO experimenting with something new. I look forward to more in the future.
- Martin Yeo (Devon OC)