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October Odyssey and JIRCs

Day 2 Planner's Comments

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Day 2 Planner's comments

NEOA's annual "October Odyssey" competition is usually held in.... you guessed it, October.  It rotates around the three open clubs in the region (CLOK, NATO and NN), and this year it was CLOK's turn.  It was also NEOA's turn to host the JIRCs, which rotates around all English regions and the other home nations, and is traditionally fixed on the last weekend of September.  I think I may have been the one who was guilty a while back of suggesting we combine the two events, with CLOK hosting the JIRCs, and moving the "October Odyssey" into September, to make one mega weekend.  This initially raised some eyebrows with some JROS folk who felt the JIRCs should be a purely closed event for the juniors that they can feel is their own.  And it wasn't without complication, for example leaving enough gap between the competitions each day to make sure the terrain was substantially clear of October Odyssey competitors for the JIRCs, resulting in long days for many of the volunteers, and juggling multiple events in the results.  However on balance it turned out well and came together into one amazing weekend of competitions.

This was my first time planning a significant relay event, and it was an interesting experience.  The JIRCs relay gaffling is challenging, with each team comprising one 14, 16 and 18 runner needing different length courses, and the 14s are only TD4, in an area that has some TD5 terrain (unusual in much of the north east!).  On top of that I wanted to run the October Odyssey with approximately similar course shapes, but also needed to fit in White, Yellow and Orange courses.  I was certainly nervous about messing up the gaffling and map issue, accidentally sending 14s out into the toughest technical terrain on too long courses, or that everyone would show up as disqualified on download if teams were associated with the wrong gaffles in the system.  Fortunately it all worked out okay!

Ann Cranke (Day 1 Planner) should take credit for the concept of the arena location for both days.  I was originally going to base my day on the flat area nearer the road, but she advised you'll never get any tent pegs into the hard ground there!  More importantly, the arena we ended up using created a great atmosphere with the viewing platform giving a chance to see confused competitors popping up out of the dunes and competitors approaching the end of their courses.  It was well worth ferrying all the organising equipment from the car parking!

South Gare is a wonderful area tucked away on the coast.  Full credit to Paul Taylor for the updated map using some newer LIDAR that had become available.  Such an area is hard to depict clearly and in a way that orienteers can relate map to ground and vice versa, but he did a great job.  The area and map do take some getting used to (for example realising that apparently flat areas on the map can still have lots of bobbles, or that a two contour depression or hill is very significant on the ground) but by the Sunday most folk had got into it.

Thanks to everyone who made it a successful weekend – Neil Hunter for organising my day, Steve Whitehead for controlling both days (including one epic checking session finding 100 controls sites for all races in one day of checking!), Heather Monro for presenting prizes, of course all the competitors for taking part and showing their appreciation, and the sun for shining (I write this as it is pouring with rain on Monday morning...).

Duncan Archer (CLOK)
JIRC relays and October Odyssey Day 2 Planner