Stonedown Night-O (Wessex Night League.
A more or less proper night race finally in the Wessex Night League in terrain away from street lights. Got there a bit late but just about managed to start (again?).
1st / 24 http://sarumo.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/St...
so, finally, finally, a win! Which does not mean that there weren't a lot of mistakes - whilst a long road on my improvement trail led here, I have to be realistic and recognise that (apart from Gavin) none of the really fast people who regularly finish ahead of me came to this event.
I had forgotten on my way here that my Garmin was off for repair and had ran in clothing without any pockets so could not take my mobile to record the track (even had to improvise the battery storage for the headlamp). Distance is therefore a result of drawing the route from memory onto some clever online tools.
As is the case with Ramsdown which is near, this area was full of brambles, so most of the legs the approach was to stay on roads/paths. I have been spooked by the organisers who printed out a control description stating that the total length was 16.2km and on my questions even said this was the optimal route. So I was immediately looking for controls to drop - but as it turns out they simply left in an auto-calculated length which wasn't based on best route, but probably assuming one takes controls in numerical order. That said, I thought the map and use of it weren't ideal - vegetation (especially undergrowth) was very unreliable, even with last minute instructions, and yet quite a few controls were placed on vegetation boundaries, which then were very vague and questionable (especially in the dark). This includes controls 16, 24, 30, 14... I have had to do an extensive hunt for half of these, losing time that I am not sure was down to anything more than luck (bingo controls). Also, the map was printed with sequence numbers next to the control circles which is less than helpful in a score event - neither the control number nor the score value is next to the control circles so one has to flit back and forth between the circles and the control description sheet all the time.
That said, I did make my own mistakes too, starting with my first control (6) which I wanted to come at from the open area corner, only to bounce back from the thick undergrowth (correctly mapped in this case). came back around and registered then need to adjust and take undergrowth seriously from here on (not that it helped much as it was inconsistently mapped in a lot of places).
11 was a mess - it is mapped as on the veg boundary when in fact it was inside the green, and further north than mapped. As there was also thick thorny vegetation on the boundary this meant a bit of guessing and hunting.
I chose to go for 2 out and back on a path, on my way from 7 to 22, which was a bit of a waste as I came near 2 again after the loop on 22-28-16. I could have instead cut across more or less on a bearing from 7 to 22.
13-> 24 was a bit of a mess, I almost ran up the road to assembly but hunting for the control was the biggest time loss on the whole course, probably about 2 minutes.
27 did not give any feedback on registering so kept trying for about 20s before giving up (it did in fact register).