Finally after 2 days in Rome’s outlying parkland came the main reason for the trip, an urban orienteering race in and around the old city of Rome. The finish start and assembly area were all adjacent to the Colosseum, a beautiful although slightly bizarre setting teaming with tourists on a Sunday morning.
We had a strange incident at the start when a whole load of police motorcycles suddenly came piling through the park gate where the entrance to prestart was located – followed by a few Lancia Thema’s with blacked out windows and more police outriders. They headed out into the park….. – someone important I assume?
Knowing I more or less kept it going the day before I went out hard, managing to plan well ahead and getting good flow through the controls. The first section was fairly straightforward route-choice decisions and trying to keep the pace up as we looped our way through the parks, streets and squares. I lost about 10 seconds on one control, not seeing it where I expected, I carried on, then double backed and the kindly restaurant owner stepped out the way with a mischievous smile on his face having been stood in front of the control…. The second part of the course took us down into the tourist honeypots and it was a really challenge trying to navigate at speed, dodge the tourists and avoid getting sold a selfie stick, a laser or a squashy pig! I decided on a round about route #14 to #15 to avoid the climb, complication and crowds of a direct route – I’ve since walked it and spotted an even more direct small staircase – the splits will show what the right decision was….
I made a small mistake on the next control losing about 20-30 seconds, the map showed steps where there was in fact a ramp, which confused me and I then compounded it by miss-reading a code before realising I had been correct in the first place gggrrrrrrrr…
It was then a case of keeping the gas on, dodging the tourists and not making a mistake – crossing the line on an uphill finish by the Colosseum. It was a fantastic experience, the crowds of bemused tourists I think just add to the experience, although being extremely frustrating at times.
Day 2 was in another large park in Rome – this time Villa Pamphilj , the weather a little warmer and this time slightly longer courses, planned as a middle distance race. As we had split start times, whilst Holly was out I enjoyed a coffee, a pastry and a dose of autumn sun in the park, again listening to the friendly commentary. Soon after Hol was back I wandered up to the start and stretched in the sunshine perusing a map they had on show in the prestart.
Being just over 5km I decided I should run flat out – ‘parkrun’ style and see what happened. I flowed through the controls well not making any mistakes but did find my technique was starting to fall apart at the end, tired with a few controls to go I found I was not planning ahead and had to make a conscious effort to stay in touch with the map and keep the gas on, particularly on the ups.
I was pleased with my result but I was still a long way off the pace – need to do some training!
We arrived in Rome on the train from Naples and it was a simple journey on the Metro up to Caffarella, a parkland. After handing over a Doctors Certificate (as is normal in France and Italy) buying a T Shirt and saying hello to a few people (Brits and a few Danes) We headed off to the start some 1.5 km away, using a warmup map. In the start lane it became apparent that the race map was a different scale to the warmup – lucky I noticed!
The race was fast and furious, 23 controls in 20 mins is pretty full on, the course twisting and turning. It was the sort of course when jogging round would be sooooo easy, but at speed on the ragged edge it is all too easy to make a mistake. I struggled a bit each time I refolded the map, it being a challenge to stay in touch… I ran well until the last few when I lost touch going into #21 and blew a good minute or so completely overshooting – a massive mistake in sprint orienteering 🙁
I was slow to #22 as well playing safe after crashing through the bamboo before sprinting into the finish to Mike Edwards on commentary. Other than my biggy mistake I had a clean run – such a shame …
Holly and I are off to Italy on Monday to for a few days R&R and then 3 days of racing around Rome.
The Sunday Urban is around the ancient centre!
http://www.romeorimeeting.net/ for more details
Randomly we found ourselves in Wroclaw for a couple of days at the same time as the World Games – completely unplanned! The World Games is full of sports that don’t quite have the worldwide oomph to get on the Olympic Stage! On the Monday night we tried to get tickets to the men’s synchronised trampolining but in the end saw a couple of ‘ends’ of boules as the tickets were all sold out! There was all sorts else on – from tug of war to speedway and sport climbing!
Tuesday morning however brought the sprint distance orienteering races from a square in the old town of Wroclaw! First up were the Women, with Brits Megan Carter Davies and Tess Strain separated by a few minutes in the start list. We hung around the start finish zone and watched them both start and then again as they came through the spectator control before finally seeing them come in for the final time after the final loop. The finish area was surrounded by fairly grotty flats, in total contrast to the gorgeous main square where we knew from the GPS tracking the competitors went on their second loop.
So as the final few women started we headed for the main square and were treated to Maja Alm flying through before we took a well-earned break in a café before the Men started to appear in the square.
We moved about the square managing to see the same competitors a few times as they looped about, also keeping one eye on the Live O app which showed us the GPS tracking. Peter Hodkinson and Ralf Street were running for GBR. Ralf had a cracking run taking a great 7th place overall. I also got an interesting photo of Jerker Lysell being photobombed by a pigeon!
The courses looked relatively easy but we did see a number of people making mistakes – the sheer speed of the competition and the winning margins being so tight you had to run clean.
The World Games has a Middle Race tomorrow and a sprint relay following but we are now off to the Bohemian 5 day in Czech!
A hot afternoon brought us back to the same start as the middle earlier in the day. We watched as most starters turned right up the 60 metre climb and wondered how ‘sprinty’ the event was going to be. Apparently the organisers bounced in and out of permissions to use the touristy parks which would have been amazing but in the end we ended up back in the same forest as the middle race.
The route to number one had me off the bike, pushing and then the bike up and on my shoulder as I negotiated a really steep rocky gully. I was drenched in sweat at the top! The course was fairly straightforward with a lot of climb but there were some good route choice options including #5 to #6 where I took the ridgeline, a fantastic singletrack, whilst fellow Brit Pete Simmonds took the southern route. The decent into 7 was sketchy and fun before the road crossing onto the last couple of controls before the finish. I had to pause at the junction to double check the route out and then made a little error forcing me to cut through the trees for 50 meters to #13. I think with so much doubling back in the last few controls, if there were more competitors, it could have been dangerous but it was fine.
I finished well, enjoying the SI Air contactless punching which saved significant time on some of the legs but was 17 seconds down on Pete who won.
The numbers were low but the M40 and M45 age classes were combined and we were surprised at the prize giving that we qualified for the Polish Masters Sprint Championships – Brits taking Gold and Silver…. The medal is lovely, almost a piece of artwork.
Not really a sprint, more of a short middle – but enjoyable all the same!
The start overlooked a classic central European wooded valley with the town of Polanica-Zdroj nestling in the bottom. From there it was straight up – 65 metres of climb off the bike and pushing 🙁 but once up it was a reasonably dense track network with lots of route choice around steeply sided valleys.
We were allowed to ride (or carry / push) in the forest too so a few of the legs saw me diving into the trees (mostly downhill) cutting through between paths rather than riding round. I think this worked for me sometimes and not others.
I was riding OK, struggling with the physicality (500 metres of climbing) but eventually blew up at 3/4 distance, sweat in my eyes and not thinking straight a made a stupid mistake at #18 losing about 7 mins. I was really tired and hot after that and continued to lose a few seconds here and there all the way to the finish.
The decent into the finish was fun but it was a long one for me – 100 mins….
I arrived at a hot and dusty Castleton fairly late as I’d been to pick up an ebay purchased toolbox for the man-cave on the way there. I know the area around Castleton, Hope and Edale well from years of visits on foot and on bike and was looking forward to a cracking nights riding.
I decided to get the climb out of the way early on and headed out via Hope and up on to Dirtlow Rake. I seemed to be riding well and felt reasonably strong (strange as I have been mainly running recently) on the climbs. I got up on the top with a route planned and then for some reason made a stupid decision to go and grab a little 10 pointer as an in and out on the way down Winnats pass – bonkers, what was I doing, it was almost at the bottom. I’d lost all my height gain… Well what to do – go in and hour early or climb back up. I did neither, I took the even more stupid decision to go all the way down and then back up the old road to Mam Tor…. Looking at my watch I’d realised I’d blown it and decided to just enjoy a ride and views along the top to Hollins Cross and then just trundle in. Stupidly again I thought – ooo there’s a 15 pointer just down the track into Edale – the riding was quite technical to get down which I enjoyed but it was slow going and again I lost far too much climb and ended up struggling back up even more losing time.
The drop back down into Castleton took longer than expected too and I ended up 7 mins late….. – not a great day at the office. Still the views were spectacular and it was great to be back in one of my favourite places in the Peaks.