Wits Orienteering race
May 10 2003
On Saturday, the annual Wits Orienteering race took place at Wits. For several ESSA members, this was our first taste of orienteering. We were able to field 2 teams, creatively named ESSA1 and ESSA2. ESSA1 had Marlise, Scott and Greg, whilst ESSA2 consisted of Nick, Shanta and Richard. Things were a little disorganised initially, with Marlise commandeering Piers' compass to determine magnetic north, and the rest of us desperately trying to comprehend just what it was that we were required to do. "Fill in this form with your name and your route and your first route is determined by the draw and then you start and you run along the route on the map and then you find a beacon. Make sure the beacon has the right number and then stamp your block and then run further and watch out for the freeway and don't go too quick initially – you have a long way to go but you must do this quickly and basically you run till you are dead or the time is 4.30PM. Any questions?!!?" *&^*&^!! I mean Piers is a nuclear physicist or something – how are we supposed to remember all this stuff?!! As we gasped and spluttered our way through the warm up, we knew it was going to be tough.
The race itself was actually a relay, with each team member running the approximately 3 km (2.5km as the crow flies but unfortunately none of us is a crow) route marked out on a particular map once. Once everyone has run this route, you get a new map with a new route. Should you accidentally use the stamp at the wrong beacon, your whole team is disqualified! (Talk about pressure – the hand wringing and grimacing every time you had to stamp was indescribable.)
Once we got underway, it proved easier than it sounded. Some of the beacons were tricky to locate, especially the one attached to the back of the milk truck that drove to Killarney! Actually, orienteering makes running fun – your attention shifts from your burning legs and lungs to finding this *&^%^ beacon hidden in the bushes. By the end of the day, ESSA1 ended up around 7th and ESSA2 (the thinking team) ended up around 9th out of about 12 teams. Nowhere near to winning perhaps but it was good fun nonetheless and a gentle introduction to the sport of orienteering. Piers' team finished in a slightly better position – 1st to be specific. However, as we pointed out to him, he actually had it much easier as his total running time was under 1 hour whereas for most of us, it was more like 1.5 hours and for some even 2 hours! But we feel confident that with a bit more practice and frankly - some dedication, Piers could make a fine orienteerer and may one day be asked to run for ESSA. Well done everyone who participated!
Thanks for coming - see you all again next time.