Night Orienteering 1:05:00  ****
spiked:5/9c shoes: 2007 Falcons
Western Night League, Webb's Wood nr Swindon. 1 hour night score, 2 maps, 2 control cards. Do as many/few from the first map as you like, hand over card 1, pick up card 2, do as many as possible from map 2. No going back to map 1.
First ever night-O event in a forested area, and it was a learning experience alright. And, as rarely as it will be said, it would have been easier had I been in Sweden. A pretty flat, almost featureless bit of forest is not at all ideal for this sort of thing - whichever "Webb" this bit of forest was named for/after, he wasn't an orienteer! Some recent forestry work meant that there was a lot of mud and many extraction lanes, which could easily be mistaken for ditches given how wet it was underfoot.
So what was learnt:
- Distance judgement at night is bloody difficult. Especially in this sort of forest where there are no features to check yourself off against. Even on paths it wasn't easy. So need to pace-count
- You're effectively running with 5% or less of the information you would have usually. I'm a really "visual" orienteer - I rely on having a big picture of the terrain surrounding me and seeing things in the distance/periphery that confirm where I'm going. That technique just doesn't work at night
- You need decent, strong attackpoints, especially where there's nothing to 'guide' you into a control. And then be really accurate on the compass.
- Sometimes perhaps you need to create an attackpoint - run 100m along a track and then bearing from there.
- It's so easy to run over a path (esp. at this time of year), or mistake an unmapped feature for a ditch, or just as easily run over a "ditch". Consistency of mapping would help!
- Obvious catching features behind controls are very useful!
So yes, plenty of thrashing about aimlessly, not having a clue exactly where I was in relation to where I wanted to be/the control. Visited 16 of the 27 controls, 7 of which were designed as a 'yellow' course so weren't at all difficult. Of the more difficult ones, spiked 5 of the 9, but could follow linear features into 4 of them. The other spike was an almost spot-on bearing from an attack point 200m away - I got lucky. The others which I tried to do that for must have resulted in ~5 minute time losses every time. Direction of approach really seems to have mattered for these - there was an easiest attack if you were going the "right" way around the course. Although I still think #20 was really hit or miss - I eventually hit, Jon M didn't find it...
Felt alright physically which is good - few remnants of cold still being removed from system, but didn't seem to have much effect on running :)