Three pairs and a solo pathfinder took part in the 2016 Wheathampstead orienteering challenge laid on by Spotted Dick and Custard. The teams were tasked with finding the answers to 27 clues scattered around the town and green spaces of Wheathamstead, given a detailed map of the roads and footpaths available, and the location of each clue.
An hour was allowed to find all the clues (pretty well mission impossible), with 10 points scored for each correct answer. A bonus point was offered for each 6 seconds a team returned before the hour (up to a limit), but a penalty point was deducted for every 3 seconds taken over the hour.
For the Words this week, each team give you their own 10 cents tour of their particular solution to the problem.
Team Clap Trap/Shagpile
It was Clap-Trap's first exposure to Hash-orienteering but luckily he was teamed with Shagpile, who carefully explained how in the previous event, cheating was the rule. Armed with this, we were able to avoid falling foul of the RA. It took some time for us to understand how the scale of the map was represented on the ground (Q1. If a 1:25 000 scale is 4cm to a Km, what does a cm on a 17,000 scale map represent – 20 points done in your head while running) and this may be part of the reason why we were 12 minutes early checking in (...although the Sunday opening hours may also have had something to do with it!). We were able, however, to use the map to locate target information – all of which was found where indicated. Speaking to others after the event, it was clear that local knowledge plays an important additional role, since several connections between footpaths and roads were not included on the map. (Note to self: don’t take the map at face value next time and bring wirecutters/stilts). As an alternative to hashing, orienteering is a lot quieter (none of that wearisome "On-on" or "..are you?") and it has the advantage that you can choose your own trail and its length. It's that factor, together with the excellent weather, that capped it for me!
Team Double Entry/Lost Cause
The first challenge is to get to Wheathampstead when your car appears to be invisible to other road users. Perhaps this is a new feature of the latest Audi? [other makes of car are available: Dep Ed]
The journey there included giving way to a train (yes train) on a country back lane. Eagle-eyed me spotted it some way ahead so pulled into a 'passing place' and waited. The person behind me in a large 4x4 drove on by, we are invisible after all, only to slam the brakes on a few yards up. They then made hard work of moving out of the way. My passenger and co-partner for Orienteering, Lost Cause, rolls his eyes and says "it's a woman driver". Huh hum I reply!
The next challenge is to find the pub. The 'Miller and Carter' may be called that at the back but appears to be called 'The Bull' at the front?! This is when having a passenger helps as Lost Cause spots Ringer. A quick text to Shagpile advising of this confused pub rescues him from sitting up the road. I also text Blow Felt but get a reply "Not there today, got better offer with Pussie"
Now it's almost 11am and Lost Cause has vanished. Ringer comments finding your team mate is also part of Orienteering. I'm worn out before we even start!! Spotted Dick & Custard hand out the maps and explain. It's always key to get back on time but this year there are bonus points for getting back early. Based on that, Shagpile thinks he has a cunning plan that he can score maximum points without going anywhere, but Spotted Dick and Custard have that covered.
We set off second and after about 5 minutes I start running. Lost Cause huffs and says I had asked for a walking partner. True, but as there were no fast runners today (sorry Shagpile), I’d decided to try and get more clues. The RA might call it competitivism!
As we reach the other side of the bridge Lost Cause starts heading off to the left. That's the wrong way I shout, the clues are to the right. He checks the map again and says "oh yes you are right". Time to get my own back for the earlier comment... "Women are always right" I reply with a smile.
The photos show Shagpile looking in the wrong place for one of the clues, at the station. Nik Nak & Pongo did the same but we weren't caught out. However we did spend ages at another clue reading an information board to no avail, but fortunately then spotted the 'British City' answer on a pillar behind.
We never saw Pongo & Nik Nak, or Zingalongamax. In fact we only saw Shagpile and Clap Trap near the end as we all disturbed a young girl and child sat on the bench we needed to look at. A bit of a surprise for her as she sat quietly in the church yard on a Sunday morning. [What do you think Hash Flash had to do to take the photo!! :Dep Ed]
Just as we contemplate heading back Lost Cause pipes up that we have time to get three more clues if we run...this being the man who has been moaning most of the way round that we're running. Where is the logic in that? We get back 4.5 minutes early but Shagpile and Clap Trap had made the strategic decision to go back 12 minutes early, a strategy that resulted in their win. But where's the fun in that? We were enjoying finding the clues.
Thanks to Spotted Dick and Custard, it was great fun as always. As I drop Lost Cause home he says he is worn out and needs a sleep...no hash stamina!