Planning events is a challenge as you have to try and get it all right for as many users as possible from 03 to 73 years old. My last plan was the Dorset Delight not far away in Bisterne Close near Burley 2014, a similar area but I love the New Forest and took the chairmans offer happily. As with everything theres so much to consider more than just slapping some controls out and doing the event and most of this was taken care of by the Wessex Committee before. My planning involved 4 trips to the area surveying areas, adding updates to the map co-ordinated by the indomitable Bill Brown. Forestry Commission permission was of course obtained way in advance, and the Holmsley Campsite is closed all winter so the events a true locals event.
Courses. Youngest ages were taken through the enclosure of the forest, as always fitting into the advised course formats, this means lots of controls on definite features- we don’t want kids up to 12 years old having nightmares out there. On the flipside long courses are my speciality, having until last year been running the Brown course – the longest possible distance. With such a big area of tussocky open ground my task was to find control locations and link them well across 7 adult courses. Type of places I love to navigate in are wild places, open places, places where looking at the map you can see locations mile away, then run to them. There were lots of times I encountered the Snipe on my wanderings, one of my very favourite birds that is secretive and a treat to see up close as it zig zags away.
Holmsley and Dur Hill gave me plenty space to play with and some months ago I set about finding the kind of Earth features brown on the map that require accurate direction on compass bearings to reach. West side before the forest near the Trig Point on Dur Hill provided most of the control points on the long courses, and in between massive route choices to get there. I wanted to put the runners into sighting vistas far away, to drop them into their zone, the sort of places where self reliance is essential. Having the drive to move fast over open ground on a competitive level really marks out endurance ability.
Drawing closer to the event all the organisers skills come in to play with maps, final details and in the background the planner and controller have already conferred on lots of the final course plans. Discounting any ideas too technical we had sorted out the event, both myself and Ian Pierce of SARUM having visited all controls several times, checked tags, maps and agreed on them. Given that Forestry commission had already informed us that felling was due to start, I approached the day with a little reservation in case major areas of the map had changed! Happily arriving Saturday the day before and putting out all the stakes there were no major changes. As always WSX came together to manage the 200+ entrants arriving at the site, and after a quiet night in the T4 camper on the site minding the tents. I set out the 3 helpers putting out controls at 8 A.M. Having already rode around for an hour 7 A.M myself I put out the rest and headed back to base. 1000 A.M I gave the okay and exactly to time we were open for business . A dry day greeted us with freezing Easterlies, much better than wet weather and this was perfect. We were lucky that only one section of the enclosure had been touched and felled, not affecting the courses, result!
Feedback. Courses were well received, the largest number of 64 on Green being challenged to the maximum, our Chairman and several others finding my favourite control 69 impossible. Brown courses very good and won by Ben Chesters superb navigator and runner. Blue course would have been my course and a couple of runners felt short changed by the track run on return- sorry, still in the main well received. Both Blue and Green winners were M18, M16 boys from Devon, with the more regular competitors falling in behind- I’m happy about that, they were challenged and showed good speed endurance for their ages to win. Across the other courses Greens worked well for many club runners, and we also had 23 Orange standard guys many from who were coaches from Calshot activity centre which was a win. Another great day in the New Forest, Thanks to all helpers, competitors and readers for the interest and coming to our Event.