Congratulations to SN, winners of the SEOA Score Championships 2014
1. SN 1777
2. SO 1551
3. SLOW 1386
4. GO 792
5. HH 738
6. MV 556
7. SAX 320
8. LOK 266
9. DFOK 221
10. CHIG 120
11. HAVOC 80
There is no doubt that Chobham is a tough, challenging area to run in, particularly if you are “in terrain” a lot. For those of you who felt that it was too physically difficult, then imagine visiting all 45 control sites about 6 times each :-). I’d like to thank all the runners who helped me collect in the controls. I think I was completely out of energy by that stage. I’d like to thank James Crawford particularly. He spent 3 days alongside me, putting the stakes and kites out and revalidating a few of the sites. My partner in crime was Philip Gristwood, and much of my reflections on the event implicate Philip as controller for the event, so I invite him to make his own statements as I don’t intend to imply that he shares my views.
The event ran pretty smoothly. James, Philip Conway and I put out the control boxes early in the morning and everything was set on time. Tim Pugh managed all the logistics of the day and these were similarly well run. The major issue of the day was about control 170 – this just to the north of the dangerous marsh that was marked OOB. It was controversial right from the beginning of planning, and with hindsight I do wish I had simply removed it as a control. Philip G and I individually checked the site and had disagreements on its position. On pace counting it together, we finalised on a very narrow re-entrant/gully, although I made some planners amendments around it by adding a further small re-entrant to the west and marking the group of re-entrants under runnable forest. On a later inspection we found a blue tag (preliminary planning site) in the west-most re-entrant and it was this that caused the issue to be raised. My own opinion is that the area is ambiguous and demands a remap, and I apologise if this spoiled your run.
Comments at the end were heavily weighted towards disappointment at collecting far fewer controls than expected in the time limit, although there were a few people who loved the challenging nature of the event. So it does bring me to one of the main points I’d like to raise: “What is a Score Event?”. Several people expressed an opinion that in a score event they would expect to collect almost all the controls set.
However, at the risk of being severely out voted in this, the definition of a score event for me is: Given a collection of 30 controls, planning a route to maximise my score in the allotted time, that is achievable by me. Of course, this is difficult at the start, so a person needs to be able to lengthen or shorten the course during the run, once they see how the terrain difficulty emerges, and here is the skill in taking the best direction to maintain that course flexibility. Why 30 controls?: that is the maximum no of controls for most dibbers. As a planner, I want to give this option to all runners. Specifically, no runner should be able to collect all the controls, because 50% of the decision making and challenge of a score event is removed!
With this as a key planning assumption, course 1 then needs to be long enough to give that same challenge to our best and fastest orienteers and this course was duly planned at nearly 11km (best route) for that reason. So all other people choosing course 1 would clearly fall short of this, and that did indeed happen today. Course 2 was planned to give 30 controls more closely set over 40 minutes for those who preferred a shorter challenge. Only 2 people pre-entered this course. 110 people pre-entered course 1. This is a point that should be debated. Should course 2 have been 60 minutes (and indeed also the junior course)? Any runner can finish as early as they like within the time limit. A further question arises: if my planning assumption is valid, do we need to set courses specific to “Open” runners, “Masters” and “Veterans”? With our ageing demographic and certainly given tough terrain conditions, that may be a possible conclusion.
My personal preference was to set the event in the southern part of the map and, of course, have the start and finish there. We were constrained by a lack of suitable parking, so with the event centre in the north, we had the junior course completely in the north, and the start and finish there too. This made for a long run out and run in for course 1.
The second point I’d like to bring forward is: “Why do we hold a SE Championship, and is the current format viable for the future?” This may tap into a bigger issue for the size or participation of SE Clubs, but when there are only 2 or 3 clubs able to field a team of 12 runners, the Championship doesn’t truly reflect the SE Membership. Then if the rules need to be redrafted, do we need smaller teams, individual winners, classes for different age groups (more like relays) and considered changes on time per course, weighted combinations or groups etc. I do hope that this is taken forward to the SE Committee for review.
Or have Score Championships finally had their day, and this type of event relegated to training and fresh air opportunities during Christmas festivities? I look forward to the debate!