Chiltern Challenge at Hambleden.
Planned on doing this for a little while and figured I'd do the session as well yesterday to make it the last hard weekend before selection races.
After the event at Winterfold 2 weeks ago not going as well as I would have liked, I wanted to try put down a bit of a better performance.
Aidan Smith said something in training yesterday which stuck with me a little; "Hambleden is like most areas round here - they really just ask one question of you; can you use your compass? And if you can, you're all good".
It seemed like a fair point, and while I haven't found many of these really tricky - it made me feel like these orienteering races should be a good opportunity to formalise those habits which aren't feeling their most habitual at the moment.
I also knew that being strong in the latter half was probably more important than the first half, so I decided I was going to go out solid, try run pretty hard, navigate cleanly, use my compass and save a little bit for the second half - not too much to ask for.
Quads felt a little heavy on the first climb, but I started pretty cleanly really and was happy ticking off features smoothly on the way to #3 & #4. #5 & #6 had more running but I still felt like I was reading the map to the appropriate level. I was unsure about the route to #7, but in the end I dropped a little to some nicer running which seemed good. Coming up to it, I saw a gully in the re-entrant which looked like a path and turned back, quickly things didn't make sense so I kept going and it had been just a little higher than I was originally, which cost me 1min or so. Maybe kept height unnecessarily leaving 7, but not the biggest issue, and got through the next couple fine.
After the map exchange I liked my line to #10, I was pretty confident, but not enough to ignore a control which was also on my line - but when it wasn't mine I still knew where I was so not much lost. Unintentionally hit the track to 11 (lack of compass!), but navigated cleanly into it from there on my compass, so not too much lost, and was smooth to 12.
Took the right-hand route on #14 which I found out later was a mistake and cost 80-90sec to Adam Potter, but I thought climbing through the undergrowth on the other route wouldn't be great.
Messy finding the pit at #15 which was a bit hidden (45sec), and then a bit distracted on #16 ended up a little low (15-20sec). Tried to calm it down then, but still didn't use the compass and the exit from 16 wasn't perfect. Got #17 & #18 cleanly, Potter caught me here, but we split on different routes on the long #19 - I went right. Got into it about 20sec behind him and worked pretty hard to get back on, and then got a bit of a tow through #20 - #24. Adam was clean and smooth and I was checking stuff but certainly not reading the map as much. He messed up #24 though and I got ahead, only to screw up #25 (30sec) and not really see him again. Managed 26 to the finish cleanly to do alright in the end.
Plenty of positives, I was certainly smoother for long sections than 2 weeks ago, and the result is respectable, but still lots of little things to pick up on that would be more costly in trickier areas. More to think on and work on before the next races.Results
Worth noting too that I actually had a couple of close-ish calls with my ankle. I almost twisted it on Tuesday round Wytham, but caught myself but it has felt a little weak since so I've been doing some exercises etc since. Need to make sure I'm on top of it. Fine to run on and that just a little more at risk of a twist than usual.