Redundant military hardware, observation shelter, old anti-aircraft gun position – if the special symbols on the map were anything to by, this was going to be an interesting day at the office for a band of Island orienteers who set off, once again, to take part in a British Army Orienteering Club (BAOC) event.
This event, on Wednesday 2nd March, took place at the Bramley Training Area (near Basingstoke), which historically was a munitions storage area, and consequently boasted many interesting features, waiting to trip-up any hapless orienteers. Apart from the military curiosities, the area predominantly consisted of runnable woodland with pockets of open land, gridded by an extensive network of tracks and a disused rail network. There were also numerous concrete bases and buildings (mainly derelict) interspersed around the forest. Bramble was evident in some parts of the forest, but this was grist to the mill for the Island orienteers, who have endured the bramble nightmare that is Parkhurst Forest.
The Island orienteers included the usual suspects: Pete Bartlett, Dan Williams and Chris Pritchett, augmented by Dan Cox, who is a member of BAOC and happens to be home on paternity leave.
Dan Cox blitzed around the Brown course (9.2km, 22 controls) in a time of 1:02:04, giving him an impressive fourth place from a field of 38 competitors, even more remarkable because Dan C does not use a compass. Perhaps he was making use of that same elusive sense of direction, as displayed by homing pigeons, which science has yet to uncover!
It might have been his advancing years or maybe the threat of another downpour of sleet, but the avuncular Pete Bartlett opted for the shorter Light Green course (5.4km, 16 controls). Wearing his now traditional novelty hat, Pete completed a clean run, finishing the course without any major errors, in a time of 1:00:36, giving him a sound 33rd place from a field of 78 competitors. It is not clear how well Pete’s hat is received, although, on reflection, the military are not without their own smattering of eccentric headwear!
Meanwhile, Dan Williams, recovering from the New Forest Challenge (a gruelling marathon distance cross-country run) at the weekend, stepped down from his more usual Brown course to join Chris Pritchett on the Blue course (7.6km, 21 controls). Both runners had a shaky start to the first control, but it was the third control that was to prove Chris’ nemesis. It was around this point that Dan W, who had started three minutes later, caught up with Chris. Despite determined efforts and taking different routes where feasible, neither runner could shake the other off, and it was nip-and-tuck for the remainder of the course. Dan W finished in a time of 56:08, within a minute of the winner, giving him a creditable third place from a field of 51 competitors. Chris had to be content with fourth place in a time of 59:04.
Full results and control split times from the event can be viewed here on the BAOC website.