I had read that there was an orienteering women’s training weekend happening at St Helens, but entries had closed when I went to join in. On the Friday, however, I got the bright idea of seeing if there’d been any cancellations. Weee. I was in.
First session was in 3 hours, but I had made dough and needed to bake the bread or my efforts would be wasted; I had to pack, of course, and drive 90 minutes to the venue in the Fingal valley. Hm. Rush rush. I threw gear into a bag (without a great deal of thought) while the bread was cooking, threw food with equal haste down my gullet, and set out for the location, Rajah Rocks.
Here we practised a Middle distance course in a fabulously rocky area. I had already been training that morning, not realising I would be accepted into the camp, so was pretty tired as I drew near to the finish. As I headed further east to the coast, I witnessed the most wonderful sunset, but needed to keep driving, so hoped there would be more over the next two days. After a fun activity after dinner where we had to build a tower made out of spaghetti and string (and perch a marshmallow on top), I left the 32 or so others to their warm, comfortable accomodation and went to the coast to pitch my tent in the dark.
I wanted to camp, and near the coast, as I love the sound of waves lapping against the shore while I lie in my sleeping bag. It’s a pity I packed my old 1980s bag in my haste: it wasn’t very warm, but I survived, and the beauty of dawn next morning drove away any thoughts about relocating to standard-type accomodation.
The Saturday contained lots of training sessions and even more camaraderie than that. Our fabulous coach, Francesca, had to design courses for total beginners through to former international representatives, from people who struggled to run to people who were very fit, and with ages from 14 to over 80, and she pleased the lot of us. Perhaps her biggest problem was to get us to stop chatting and laughing, and get the next session started. We did relocation in pairs, compass only (HELP – I decided I was actually a shocking orienteer in this session), and contour only courses, where I was allowed to slightly revise my opinion of myself.
On the final day we did a longish course practising long legs. I was stunned that I still had legs left to do this, but once I’d got going, somehow all was fine. It was very lonely out the far end of the long course; I think most took the shorter option for this session.
I was too busy orienteering (or chatting or eating) to photograph orienteering in action, but I did want to share the beauty side of our weekend, so here it is. As it is a post about orienteering, I will finish with a shot of one of my very favourite orienteers taken recently rather than this weekend. She’s not quite a woman yet, but I’m sure she’ll join in such a camp one day.