Waikari planners report - June 2011
14 June 2011
They say that planning events significantly improves your orienteering. Well, we look forward to that investment paying off! This was a great map to us to practice as first time planners. A useful map file with a wealth of information, PAPO resource sheets on planning, friendly farmers and a variety of beautiful scenery and challenging course possibilities. Although we toyed with the idea of a score event, we decided to plan the traditional six courses first up.
We had attended a PAPO training evening on the Condes software used to design orienteering courses, but learning in practice was like any software: we could achieve most things quite quickly - the programme is pretty intuitive and well thought out. But as for those small fiddly changes or embellishments – many evenings went by in a flash! And (as we discovered) without the OCAD software we couldn't make changes to the base map, or shift some of the graphics around. Linley Earnshaw offered a fantastic, responsive, online solution service that many “local” telecos would be proud of. “This is what a supportive club is about!” she enthused as we spammed her with ever more naïve requests. Controller David Pugh-Williams, fortunately endowed with the patience of a primary school teacher and the eye for detail of, well, a pharmacist, red-penned the obvious errors in the drafts and following some phone liaison work with the landowners, we headed off to, as we thought, tick off our seemingly flawless course designs on the ground. Hmm. The first surprise was that a key forested hill had been chainsaw-massacred, leaving our cunningly concealed controls and route choices exposed. The second was that the fences around the base of the hill were no longer, obliterating the early section of the white course and part of the yellow. Add to this that some of the vegetation had inconsiderately grown, died or changed shape, and that all four of us couldn't agree on some of the rock positions on the map, that some stony ground had mysteriously disappeared and a bolder cluster appeared where none had existed ….and five hours later we were much wiser about the realities of planning!
So, back to the laptop for round two of design. Again more support from David and Linley. Finally, the matching of theoretical controls to real PAPO ones that are working, control descriptions to write up, proofs from the printers, final adjustments, back to the printers to pick up the map pick-ups, pick up the controls, attach Sport Idents, other equipment to gather, and more farmer liaison. Phew!
The day before the event itself we headed back to Waikari to put out controls to find more active land management had resulted in several new fences, cutting across the the early part of the yellow and orange courses. These we had to draw on the maps on the day of the event with a biro and ruler.
Perhaps it was this surprise that meant we inadvertently put out control 39 in more or less the wrong place, that 63 on the orange was slightly higher than the advertised position, and the the centre of the control circle on the map for control 40 was a micro-millimetre further to the east than eagled-eyed red competitors would have liked. Fortunately Ed Cory-Wright, fresh from success in North Island and sporting some of the lightest shoes on the planet, not only blitzed the short red course coming in way ahead of everyone else but also found time to move the offending control 39 to its correct place. So we'll have to disqualify him. Nah, only joking Ed! We reckon the remaining 53 controls were OK.
As for the rest of the courses on this gloriously sunny day – well, orienteering are always generous with their suggestions! Some loved the hills and runnability, others less so. Lockie Campbell's GPS watch registered 459m of climb on the Medium Red, where we had counted 275m, which presumably means either he took the scenic route or he may have to return the watch for servicing. We may need to disqualify him too for carrying illegal equipment! The visibility and placement of some controls, especially on the Medium Red, made it less technical for the more experienced, although hiding controls in some of the open terrain was challenge. Overall, though, we were pretty pleased – we heard debates about different route choices that had been taken, no one got trampled by a cow, and people seemed to enjoy themselves, the beautiful countryside and superb food fundraiser. Several did get zapped, however, on the Orange course by a live electric fence that the farmer needed to keep on for stock control. The turnout was impressive, there were few mispunches and we had to recycle maps on the Medium Red (36 participants!), Yellow and White courses, with a relatively large number of school groups giving it a go, then trying a second course.
The finish times were almost exactly spot on the estimates for the Long and Medium Reds – with a pretty close tussle for first places, and the aforementioned Ed making a mockery of the predicted Short Red times. Orange course times were a bit shorter and yellow and white a bit longer, so it all balanced out.
Grateful thanks to the farmers – the McMillans at Arden farm and the Calders at Wai-iti. Robin McMillan held his 60th birthday party on the day of the event, and wasn't at all worried by our club presence on the farm! Lisa and her great band of volunteers made set-up, control collection and pack-up a breeze. As mentioned, Linley offered great IT support and David Pugh-Williams, as Controller, was generous with his time and expertise and we all greatly appreciate his input and advice.
Ryan, Rebecca and Trevor Batin