Twywell Hills and Dales
Middle Distance Event
Sunday 10th November 2013
Organiser's (and Mapper's) Comments:
Twywell is the orienteering site I have special feelings for. It is close to my home and I have been involved from initially obtaining
permission shortly after it became a country park. It has provided me with an interesting mapping challenge with its steep closely packed
slopes and complex detail which I have always been determined to map with form and contour lines. When we reviewed my earlier effort we
realised that in places, especially the southern part, the way the contours were used did not give an easily read image of the area, so
Keith and I effectively redid it from scratch. We hope it worked for you.
I expect a number of you were surprised by this hidden gem of a highly contoured area in Northamptonshire.
November is questionable with regard to the weather, but it did us proud on the day; standing round chatting in assembly or visiting the Green Tea Van was a pleasure. However the rain in the previous weeks had made it very slippery on the courses in places. It also meant that we had to use the less desirable option of parking across the A14 with a 1k walk to assembly - so an extra thanks to the weather for making this less burdensome.
From conversations overheard in assembly you generally enjoyed Keith's courses and looked on the steep slopes as part of the challenge; to the extent that a muddy bottom was a badge of honour among a certain section of the competitors.
I would like to thank all my teams of helpers, who did a magnificent job and left me with very little to do on the day.
Many thanks to Mike and Keith for being so easy to work with, particularly Keith for mentoring me on my first Level C organising role and for his help with the survey for the map.
I apologise for the loo with no water in the basin, we filled it once but found it was leaking out of the bottom.
Twywell is an excellent area but one which does present its own problems for planning. Some of the points for me to consider included the
The size of the site either meant classic distances with a long flat, featureless run across fields to make up the distance or the middle distance race which we staged.
The single narrow path joining the two areas used by numerous other people was relieved by a control to slow runners down and reduce the risk of collisions.
Small blocks of woodland surrounded by paths needed special care to keep you in the woods as much as possible.
Thick vegetation in places, most of which were avoided although after the delayed leaf fall many of the controls were clearly visible from a distance.
The complex contour detail meant that a 1:5,000 was used for all courses.
Many of the ridge and gully features did not have sufficient point features to use as distinct control sites even though they were significant navigational features.
The clay soils became heavy in the wet and resulted in the distant car park.
Major changes to the vegetation resulted in a complete remap of the area including a reassessment of the contour features.
A range of other users of the area, varying between dog walkers and wildlife conservators. You probably noticed the smoke blowing across whilst you were running - this was a butterfly group carrying out scrub clearance to improve the habitat. SMOC had made its contribution earlier by providing a working party to clear dense hawthorn around the first controls to encourage some of the rare plants found on the site.
All of these considerations provided a test for me to enjoy over the summer as I worked and reworked courses. Hopefully I used them to give you enough of a challenge on the day, both physically and mentally. Nothing was too much trouble for Robert in his capacity as organiser and mapper to enable me to get the courses to their final state whilst Mike used his controller's independence to prevent me from implementing some of my more unreasonable thoughts. A big 'thank you' to both of them. Thanks also to those of you making comments at the finish. It's always good to know how courses were received and to receive constructive input on how to improve.
What a delight to be able to control an event near to my home on such a complex area and with such a good map - a rare treat in East Anglia.
Everything seemed to go smoothly on the day, thanks to the good organisation of Robert and his team of SMOC helpers. Hopefully the walk from the
car park did not cause too many problems for anyone - it was unavoidable, and we tried to compensate for it by having everything else close
Keith put a lot of thought into the courses and I think this was reflected in the final product. Yes, it was tough, but what a contrast to usual East Anglia areas. Sometimes it is good to be reminded that orienteering is an adventure sport! The planning took good account of the guidelines for middle courses and, going by winning times I think we got it about right. To be honest it was hard to judge in the planning stage as a lot was going to depend on who turned out. We published course lengths early so that runners could make an informed choice on whether they wanted to choose their usual course or opt for course length instead. Quite a few of you seem to have opted for the latter. A couple of people asked what happened to the Brown course. Yes, there was one originally, but it was obvious close to the entry closing date that runners were opting for Black rather than Brown, so we decided that rather than dilute the competition onto two courses, to have one with a good number of runners.
Mike Capper (WAOC)