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SW Relays series 2008

Published: Mon 1 Sep 2008

This series of relays known as the Chairman's Challenge was again won by QO Quicksteps, with a slightly larger margin than last year, but it was very tight at the end.

Only four events qualified as Wimborne had to cancel their Furrow Hoppers Relay at a late stage. Only two teams competed in all four events, QO and NGOC, so it wasn't too competitive a series. However both clubs contrived to pass the trophy to the other. One of the Quantock teams had a mispunch at the Devon relays and the other failed to finish, and so with the best three events to count it was all down to the Wessex event. QO had to finish before NGOC to win the trophy. You can read Jeff Pakes’ account of what happened next....

- Mike Crockett

Wessex Hardy Relays

Relays - surely orienteering is a solo event? What about all the waiting around? What if I slip up and wreck things for the whole team? As a relays debutant, the latter concern was playing on my mind - I'd fluffed two of my last three runs, at Penhale Sands and Ashclyst Forest. Lost in the dunes at a baking Penhale then omitting a control in an otherwise perfect run amidst the sodden track-runs at Ashclyst, the summer was so far proving to be 'silly season' for me. So I was sceptical. Then I discovered the format for the race to be held near Wool, Dorset in late July. Four runners sharing just three maps - this sounded fun. Everyone had to run the Orange and Light Green courses and the best two runners attending would do Green also. Start times would be adjusted according to an age-based handicap, meaning there would be a 'proper' finish with a head-to-head, rather than a notional one involving papervork and equations. Though only in theory! Drawing up the optimal run plan was going to require some 'critical path analysis.' Mike Crockett showed his experience by producing an elegant diagram, scheduling the runs as a series of bars on an A4 handout.

Now 'QO Quicksteps' had the perfect plan it was bound to go out the window. Richard Sansbury reinforced the importance of punching correctly in the wake of the failure of the previous QO relay team. He didn't tell me not to lose my dibber... Each map had a dibber attached with a piece of string. But at least it wouldn't get in a tangle with my overloaded left hand, thumb compass and all, if I left it dangling. No, it'd just break off instead. Somewhere during a 1km track run, perhaps. Or was it lying in that batch of brashings I had just negotiated? I re-ran the 1km of track since I last dibbed, and back again. Defeated and exhausted, suddenly fate intervened when a sympathetic mother kindly lent me her spare dibber. I half-heartedly finished the course, guessing Mike would call time on our efforts with disqualification a threat and an hour on the clock for what should have been a 20 minute run. But after some reassurances from the controller - my borrowed dibber had cleared- Mike sped off despite being barely recovered from completing the Light Green in the sweltering heat.

The initial plan lay in tatters but part of the initial plan was not to change it! Without the right maps then, Richard and lan Bartlett had to make an emergency decision to change the plan. Both were going great guns. Richard later emerged with the Light Green map sweating and panting and advised me to 'stay on the paths more than I usually would.' I did, but by now the Orange map, which I had held up for so long, had replaced Light Green as the 'critical map.' It was with lan, due to emerge any second now. Hopes soared, only for the last Wessex man to emerge at the finish, with lan just seconds behind. But no announcement till the boffins did their sums! Twenty minutes later, we learned we had lost the race, but due to nearest series rivals North Gloucs being the last of the teams that completed their courses QO may yet win the series.

- Jeff Pakes

Jeff’s lost dibber was found and so the early part of his run was recorded. I'm not sure how the results team calculated his time from the two dibbers but I am assured it was OK. The other critical thing was that NGOC's first orange runner missed the last control. We did wonder why he had appeared from the wrong direction and then knew. However not to be outdone he ran the whole course again and so they were able to register a complete set of results. I am pretty sure that we had completed all our courses before he went out on this re run and so we would have beaten them anyway. I have appealed for more teams to compete next year and the motto should be "Must do better" In all ten QO members competed in the series and I am sure they will tell you how much they enjoyed it. Let's see if we can help the series by entering more teams ourselves.

- Mike Crockett