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Long O 2005

Blackdown Hills

Arthur Vince By Mark Lockett

Arthur Vince By Mark Lockett

Last edited: Tue 1 Nov 2005

Mapper Bill Vigar stitched together a few of his maps of our Blackdown Hills areas...but could we make a Long-O out of areas used for Forest League events? Arthur Vince reported.

I should have known better, after competing, planning and controlling on the Blackdowns over many years. Better than thinking that the deeply rutted, branch-strewn and bog-holed ride leading from the Start towards the first control would be faster than the woods; 7m 30secs for 310m. Leg 2 to 3 proved equally entertaining. For the last 400m in a leg of 1100m there were two route choices which appeared more or less equal; I took the one which ended in less than 100m through "walk" after a path run; silly really as we had been told that the map hadn't had a total revision; it turned out that it was only "walk" for a badger, but that was the only fault I found with the map. No more problems after that.

I rather liked visiting the old fields in Staple Common, a hidden and delightful part of the area

The Blackdowns are rough going, especially when Prior's Park is added on to Staple Hill at the western end, but there were no dodgy control sites and the route choices proved interesting. And I rather liked visiting the old fields in Staple Common, a hidden and delightful part of the area, which can be as navigationally challenging as the woods; I can't help wondering about the history of the ruined farm.

Such a long narrow area inevitably had more controls than I consider the ideal for a Long-O - 31 in 19 km on the long course; the Devon OC event on Dartmoor had 15 in 26.2 km. That latter event proved not as hard as I took half an hour less; and at least I had the doubtful glory of being the oldest finisher to complete both long courses, but at M65 I know to ask for an early start...

Naturally the fastest competitors achieved remarkable times considering the unrelenting nature of the underfoot going and the navigation, like Ben Chester's 3h 0 mins14secs for 19km, over an hour ahead of the second placed competitor, Richard Sansbury, on the long course.

A unique feature of the QO Long-O is the provision of a cosy village hall for shelter, food and drink. This year, in spite of the smaller entry, the catering made a profit of £30 for the SWOA Junior Squad and I expect my wife Christine will still be baking cakes and making soup next year.

Congratulations are due to Andy Rimes for creating a challenging event on such a difficult area, especially for the lateral thinking which had competitors driving to the forest so that he could have a hall for an HQ, and to Bill Vigar, without whose stitching together of maps the event couldn't have happened.

I think Andy regards this year's event as an interesting experiment; he certainly created a challenge, which a Long-O should be. But next year the event will return to NW Somerset.

Other good QO results:

Medium course: 1st Chris Philip 2nd Ian Bartlett 3rd Jim Mallinson 4th Mark Larcombe

Short Course: 2nd Declan Gray

-Arthur Vince

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