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Long O weekend 2011

Last edited: Tue 1 Nov 2011

The successful formula from 2010 continued with another double header over the weekend of 1 and 2 October 2011.

I was fortunate to drive to the Doone Valley for the second day of our Long O weekend. What a glorious day! I had offered my services, very late in the day, and was told that everything was under control. Consequently I donned my presidential hat and wandered around talking to everybody and was even offered a cream tea at 9am by the campsite proprietor. I was also thanked for coming and thought this is great ―Thank you for doing nothing. May I in return say a big thank you to all who worked so hard in putting on a good event.

What was so heartening was the friendly atmosphere and the spirit of both the organiser team and competitors. This was enhanced, in no small measure, by the inclusive refreshments, the location and the weather. I would recommend the campsite to anyone who wants to get away into the countryside for walking or just relaxing. I also know that while QO members organise events such as this, together with its comprehensive list of shorter events we are in safe hands. Long may it continue. In fact as a tribute to the organiser I could say ―The future is Rosie.

Mike Crockett

Long course- Richie Hill

For the last four years, I've been using the QO Long-O weekend (and previously the Two Moors Challenge) as preparation for the OMM. Usually, it‘s used as a fitness gauge, normally ―inspiring more intensive training, and a chance to check out our equipment and nutrition strategy.

Day 1 score – St. Audries

The weather was unseasonally warm, so with my partner for the OMM, Adrian Edwards (Adge), we decided to load up on a little extra water for the day. As we were helping out with car parking for the event, we were the last to head out on the three hour score. After looking at the map we decided on an ambitious route and headed off for our first control. Due to the heat, Adge started to get a hot-spot before we got half-way to it, which required a bit of foot care under a bit of shade.

Pace slowed, as hot-spots turned to blisters, which meant the original plan had to be adapted on the fly. The St. Audries area is quite an open area, which allowed us glimpses of much of the local wildlife, from birds of prey to stags.

Adge battled on through the pain, and although we finished 13 mins over our three hour limit, we had achieved a respectable score. The cause of the blisters remains a mystery, as the same shoes had been used previously and on the OMM without any issues, suspicion lies with the heat as a major contributing factor.

After a minor operation on Adge's feet we decided to forego the usual rehydrated meal...

It was only on reaching the finish, did we remember that someone had volunteered us to help collect some of the controls! With Adge‘s feet actually bleeding, there was no way he could have gone back out, so I set out for the lonely run out to three controls (2 of which we had actually been the last through – should have collected them then!)

By the time we got to Cloud Farm it was pitch black. So, after a minor operation on Adge's feet (and a very thorough hand wash), this year we decided to forego the usual rehydrated meal and instant coffee, and found a lovely little pub just down the road from the camp site, for a well earned steak & chips (and additional rehydration!).

Day 2 - Doone Country, Exmoor

Sunrise on Cloud Farm, revealed a stunning location for the start of Day 2. As I donned another fetching set of Lycra running tights, Adge reluctantly decided he wouldn‘t run. Breakfast was courtesy of the farm café – you really can‘t beat a full English to help prepare you for a day on Exmoor.

Dragging my foot out of the carcass of a dead sheep is a memory which will stay with me for a very long while

Personally, the Start to Control 1, has to be one of the most horrible I have ever done. I decided to head up the re-entrant (everyone else seems to have gone up high and around to it), this meant that at one stage my map was in my mouth, as I needed both hands to climb a near vertical slope at the end. Also, dragging my foot out of the carcass of a dead sheep is a memory which will stay with me for a very long while!

An hour in and the hot-spots I had developed on Day 1, started forming little pockets of pus (which got bigger as the hours went on). As my pace was slowing, I decided to make the most of the time and practice my bearings, which despite my lack of orienteering in the last year, was surprisingly accurate (however, some of the legs were done at little more than a walking pace!).

I did have a little giggle to myself as Richard Sansbury blasted past me on route to control 17, only to run past the site (by a good 200m) to the top of the ridge, as I plod up to it. There are some moments when the tortoise can feel a little smug! (Note - He had caught me back up by the time I got to 18).

The format of the Long-O weekend provides ideal training for Mountain Marathon events. Although Exmoor is a stunningly beautiful location, I still find it the most challenging area in which I‘ve ever orienteered. So, if you‘ve never had a go at doing both days – challenge yourself for next year. It will hurt, but it‘s worth it!

Richard Hill

QuOnicle 140 November 2011

A view from the sidelines

I spent the first few hours of Sunday skulking around trying to at least look cheerful, whilst seething with frustration and feeling like a lame racehorse (ok, donkey). Then I took a ‘hobble‘ down by a stream near the finish. It was a beautiful warm sunny day, the scenery was spectacular, and suddenly things didn‘t seem so bad. To be honest, if I had been running I would probably have been cursing the heat!

It also gave me a chance to ‘mingle‘ a bit and chat to other competitors, some of whom had travelled a good distance to be there. I remember talking to one chap from the Midlands who had come down with a friend. They took part in last year‘s Long-O event as a pre-OMM‘ warm-up, and came back down for this year‘s event even though they hadn‘t entered this year‘s OMM. Why? They enjoyed the scenery, they felt welcomed by the friendly people, and they particularly liked the laid -back atmosphere of the event. Well done Rosie, and everyone else who helped make it another great event for QO.

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