Lockdown Orienteering - what is this all about? Jess took part in the first weekend of 'races', we all should have been at the JK but we all know why we were not! Read on to find out about the experience Jess had with this.
I'm writing this from an 'un-locked down' Sweden, where I'm still going to work as a teacher every day (school holiday week just now!) and then training in the evenings. There have been changes such as no sports events, no gatherings of more than 50, to stay off school/work if you have any illness symptoms at all and no unnecessary travelling (amongst others). The biggest 2 impacts for me have been not being able to travel to the UK to see my family and the orienteering racing season being stopped. Last weekend I was due to be racing the JK, which would have determined whether or not I would be racing internationally this year. I was feeling fairly positive after a good block of training so I hope I'll get to use this fitness at some point in the not too distant future!
When I got a message that there was going to be an online orienteering weekend I thought it would be worth having a go. If I'm honest, I was quite skeptical as I have never been a fan of computer games, but thought it would be good to support it as some of the funds raised were to go towards the GB squads.
Over the weekend of 'racing' I surprised myself by getting more and more into it and actually getting some adrenaline going! I enjoyed doing something 'competitively' again. It is the first time something like this has been done, there were 4 days of competition all master-minded by Chris Smithard (FVO).
Each day had a theme, based on the JK weekend, so first up was a sprint day. There were 2 exercises, which were both based on route choice. A mixture of accuracy and speed determined the results, and I surprised myself with how high up the results I was and that was where the first bit of competitiveness hit me.
Unfortunately, the next day was completely the opposite for me and showed me that I definitely need to brush up on my control descriptions knowledge as I plummeted down the results list.
On Sunday, there were some of my favourite stages, including a spot the difference (some lamenting on the Facebook page afterwards by how long people had sat in front of their screens!) where I managed to finish 2nd (out of nearly 500!) and also a Streetview orienteering stage (you had to navigate an orienteering course in Google maps and use Streetview to answer questions).
Monday was the final day where there was a challenging trail-o course to be done.
I just took part in the 8-stage competition, however you could enter the 12-stage where there was a Catching Features competition each day too. This is something that I feel would be great if I had more time - perhaps if I was actually in lockdown! It's the closest thing to orienteering on a computer. There was a live-streamed grand finale where the top 12 after the 12 stages raced head-to-head on Catching Features - it makes orienteering spectating even more comical than watching GPS dots, but quite fun in times like these! The top 6 were from 6 different nationalities, with the winner from Sweden.
Next weekend, there is round 2 of Lockdown Orienteering, where I'm looking forward to 'racing' again, especially against Dad this time!! It's certainly not got the same feeling that we love of racing around a forest finding controls, but it really is a wonderful concept that Chris has dreamt up to satisfy a little of that orienteering craving! If you would like to be a part of it, then I suggest getting an entry in sharp as they had to close them early last time as they reached 500 pretty quickly. All details and how to enter (there is an entry fee £10 adults, £5 juniors) are on the Lockdown Orienteering website.
The BASOC newsletter helps me to keep an eye on what you're all getting up to! Hopefully I will get to race in purple with you all soon (rather than just sitting at my kitchen table in my BASOC hoodie!), but until then perhaps 'see' some of you at the Lockdown-O next weekend?!