Ian shared this account of his recent Quantock Long-O challenge, with Chris Branford of WIM:
For a number of years Quantock have organized a Long-O event on the Quantocks
Last year – because of Covid – they changed the format from a one-day event and used MapRun so that the event could continue with the restrictions in force.
In addition they gave a window of about a month for individuals or teams of 2 to complete it and submit results
2 courses were on offer – 3 hours and one map only or 5 hours and two maps
Last year Ian Sayer WSX and myself decided to give it a go using MapRun and completed the Southern half of the Quantocks taking just over 4 hours to cover 25k plus lots of climb and gaining just over 2500 points. The best results (needless to say M21’s) covered over 50k in the 5 hours and gained over 5000 points. We should have been out longer but unfortunately I tripped and fell giving rather a lot of blood and spent 7 hours in A&E later in the evening being cleaned up
Bad memories get forgotten about very quickly and we decided to have another go this year and again do 5 hours and two maps.
As we had virtually cleared the southern map last year we decided to try and clear the northern map this year – should be easy!! Then in the remaining time do some of the controls on the southern map.
So on Wednesday 18th we set off and drove to Crowcombe in the Quantocks – forecast cloudy with a breeze – and a promise to Lynn to come back in one piece.
Route was to be clockwise and off we went working up the west side. Some of the paths were very runnable but some were like sheep routes with lots of loose stone underfoot and not easy running. When combined with a steep drop our pace dropped considerably. At one stage we had ‘clag’ close in on us but fortunately it quickly cleared. First two hours went well with about 14 controls ‘dinged’ and as we approached 58 somewhere in the middle we saw someone else with an orienteering map going in the opposite direction to us – Roger Craddock from Quantock. We said ‘hello’ as we went past him and continued north west. We had already done control 56 earlier on which we thought was heavy going – 21 contours down and then back up but then we came to the top point control 99 – 26 down and 4 up and then 4 down and 26 back up – that kept us quiet for quite a few minutes and it was very much a walk job both ways as lots of loose stones in parts and I did not wish to spend another 7 hours in A&E this year.
We kept on seeing white puffballs on the ground that looked like gold balls. Also kept hearing the steam train north west of us in the valley sounding its whistle. After 99 we headed north to 97 (another very high scoring control) and then on to 76 in a stream valley. The map showed a gap in the path halfway along and when the man-eating bracken completely covered the path we realized why and staggered on through – fortunately by now downhill. As we neared the bottom and the path restarted in a clearer section I saw another puffball on the ground but on looking closer realized it had words printed on it! But we are in the middle of nowhere in a rather inaccessible area? I looked closer and picked it up – a golf ball and we both looked at it in amazement – what on earth was it doing there.
Anyway I put it in my bag and we continued north to 96 at the top of the map. By now we were over 3 hours – running out of steam a bit to say the least and only done 20 controls with another 17 to go on the top map. Plan B – direct route back down needed. So on to 86 –highest point and fantastic views of Minehead, Lundy and South Wales plus much of north Somerset towards Bristol. However we did not have time to linger as we now had less than 90 minutes to get back to finish and at least one very substantial drop and climb to get there. Down southeast route dropping into the forest valley to 57 and then back up the other side to visit 68 before legging it more or less due south towards finish. I was struggling a bit towards the end but did manage to jog a few downhill sections so that we ended up with just under 8 minutes to spare.
So a lovely day out for Ian and myself and back to Lynn who was cooking our evening meal. Also I could go home as I was still in one piece with no battle scars.
So 29 controls in 4hours 52.09 1390 points and according to my gps on garmin watch well over 800m climb.
The winners – much younger than us – covered about 45k in 5 hours scoring over 3000 points and still had quite a lot of controls on the north map that they did not visit.
As far as I can see we were the only ones to visit control 99 at the bottom of the hill!!!
All in all a fantastic day out and big thanks to Ian for making sure I got back home in one piece.
We showed Lynn the golf ball and explained how we gained it
The next night Marc Thompson from Moors Valley visited us to drop off the maps for Sturminster Newton and we presented him with the golf ball and explained how we gained it.