15th February 2009
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The trophies are held by EAOA Chair, Caroline Louth, who will contact winners to arrange collection.
Each event has its share of twists and turns to keep the organiser on their toes. This one certainly had its fair share.
After having registered the event for Silverstone in the forest known to the Forestry Commission as Hazelborough South and arranged everything with them, a chance discussion with the forester revealed that he was moving to North Wales and that his replacement was on maternity leave. In the inter-regnum period, further discussions with the regional manager revealed that much of the coniferous woodland would be cleared and the high quality mature oaks would be felled, all subject to suitable markets. With this uncertainty we were left with little option to reorganise at a late stage and move to Hazelborough North. At least we had a helpful farmer with a field close to the start/finish in Bucknell. Remapping was carried out over the winter and everything began to come together as Richard started planning the courses.
We've become used to wearing light-weight O suits and sun bathing at events in February in recent years, but the snows of December and January began to make me cautious. Even just a fortnight before the event with snow lying, the car park was anticipated to be usable and the final steps towards organising the event were falling into place. Then the snow began to fall ever deeper and the event looked decidedly unlikely. Fortunately the car park field owner could not have been more helpful and some of you were able to park in the luxury of Challock Farm Stud, with many thanks to the owner.
On the final Thursday at the same time that the car park was declared unusable and even more snow fell, Steve Searle, the controller, broke out with painful shingles. He had done everything bar check the controls in place on the day, so we made arrangements for that essential task. As a result, I had a beautiful, but tiring, afternoon exploring the deep frozen snow on Saturday, so I know something of what you were up against on Sunday as it started melting, slowing you down and making the longer courses particularly tough. One of the Scandinavian competitors commented that he expected the last minute update explaining that there were 15cm of snow to be an overstatement since 2 or 3 cm usually constituted 'arctic conditions' in England. Hopefully you were all prepared!
On the day, everything ran smoothly, even the promised rain showers stayed away although unsurprisingly, nobody waited around for EA prizegiving. Caroline Louth now has all the trophies. Thanks to all of you that commented favourably on having a run even under such conditions, it did repay the efforts put in to making it happen.
Congratulations to all EA Champions. The W10,W20 and M40 Trophies were not awarded as no eligible competitors ran the appropriate colour courses.
Keith Downing SMOC
The par times above show the effect that the conditions had on runability. We knew it was going to be muddy, and you can�t avoid a few hawthorns in these woods, but the snow added a whole new level of resistance to your speedy progress between controls. Especially the longer courses, which visited the southern wood, where for some reason the snow lay thicker still. The Black course (against which the other course lengths are devised pro-rata) was much the same length as one that returned a winning time of 63 minutes over the same terrain a couple of years ago. Honest!
So apologies to those of you who spent longer in the woods than you had wanted, to the tearful young Yellow course finisher with frozen feet, and to the long course stalwarts who were out for two hours and more. But also thank you to the many of you who arrived at the finish tired but happy, and with positive comments on the joys of being out in the elements, and on the team�s extra efforts to stage the event in adversity.
Richard Pownall SMOC