It’s not every day I get to be British Champion so winning M45 at the 2009 British Night Championships was quite a surprise.
I thought this was a very enjoyable race: a nice runnable forest that meant you could at least try to run fast, plus some tricky navigation trying to interpret vague contours in the dark. My overall plan was to find reasonable path routes wherever possible, but the planning meant there was still an awful lot of compass running across large blocks of forest. Not a perfect run by any means, but I certainly beat a lot of people I seldom if ever beat in the day time. Looking at the splits it is clear that everybody was having trouble, and the winners were those who managed to reduce time loss rather than eliminate it completely.
You can see the course in Routegadget.
1-2: I was having real trouble reading the map here because my glasses were misting up, and I managed without them for the rest of the race. I should have run to where the gully crosses the re-entrant and simply turned left, but I think I read the gully as an index contour instead. After that it was a headless run backwards and forwards in the gully but at least I was in good company with Martin Ward. (Winsplits estimated loss 1.03)
2-3: Compass in from the track junction, but without much hope of hitting it. I relocated on the boulder by the path as planned, so it wasn’t too much time lost. At night I’m not sure there is any better plan, since you could be 5m away from the flag and not see it or the feature. (Winsplits estimated loss 0.20)
5-6: This looked really tricky on the way out of 5, and I set off on a compass bearing hoping I’d pick up the vegetation change. The thicket turned out to be very obvious.
13-14: It nearly went badly wrong here. Compass in from the knoll, but the small path just before the control seemed much too big and I never really picked out the contours. I stopped in what was clearly the pitted area but still couldn’t see the re-entrant. I was on the way out to find a new attack point when the control suddenly appeared about 5m away behind a tree. (Winsplits estimated loss 0.52)
14-15: A deliberate decision to take the safe path route given I had nearly blown it at the previous control. I then stupidly missed the control on a compass bearing. I realised I had gone too far and turned back. (Winsplits estimated loss 0.57)
16-17: My route choice out of 16 would have been fine in the day, but at night it was quite slow down and up through the light green. Due south to the path would have been longer but quicker. (Winsplits estimated loss 0.39)
17-18: My GPS track shows I got within about 10m on a compass bearing from 17 but I couldn’t make out the clearings so headed out to relocate. (Winsplits estimated loss 1.36)
20-21: Missed a path junction and did three sides of a square to lose a few more seconds. Kenny Leitch lost over 5 minutes, and the race, running from 20 to 12 instead of 21.
22-23: I’d looked at going around to the south, but in the end I felt quite strong and managed to run hard up the hill on the straight route. Steve McKinley went round to the south and dropped 30 seconds, leaving me in the lead for the first time.