With the experienced team of Alan planning and Edmund organising, the 2006 Icenian should be a slick operation, or so we hoped!
Alan assured us that he would definitely be there for the race, and no, he wasn’t going to America until the following week. Three weeks before the race he looked at the diary and realised that his supervisor had booked flights for the day before. Having foolishly volunteered to help on the day if he wasn’t going to be there, I became stand-in planner. When will I learn to say no?
Edmund and I put out some controls between us on the Saturday, which was relatively easy as I had mapped Highlodge a few years before, and Ed had mapped it this year. Alan had helpfully put out very obvious tapes, which we had to remove as some would have been visible from the other side of the forest.
The controller, John Ward, has learnt from previous CUOC experiences that he needs to enforce strict deadlines. There were some comments about the ability of students to get out of bed in the morning, which Nicola and I certainly didn’t agree with when we left Cambridge at 5.45am on Sunday. Nicola had been to a party the night before and I don’t think putting out controls before dawn in a foggy Thetford Forest was her first choice of activity that day.
Having got all the controls out in good time, we went to check some from the previous day, then I got involved in entering people on the finish computer, thinking my job was complete until the end of the race. Not quite. I’d left the start, finish, check and clear boxes behind when I went to check controls and told people they were there, hoping that might be enough to get them into the forest. As they had disappeared when I got back I thought nothing further of it until the father of a young competitor appeared at the download tent asking where the finish was. Rule Number One of orienteering races – never assume other people have the time or initiative to do things they haven’t specifically been asked to. Result of ignoring Rule Number One – panic and embarrassment, requiring profuse apology and offerings in the post. Hmm, a strong sense of déjà vu – I distinctly remember apologising profusely and writing letters last year too.
While I was single-handedly manning the download tent, John Ward and Edmund were in the forest placating Forest Enterprise wardens who were concerned that runners were using mountain bike tracks. They ended up having to marshal runners in one particular area, despite FE being fully aware that we were using the forest for orienteering. Negotiations for future use of the area are ongoing!
Despite the problems the race was generally well-received, and the CUOC members who came all worked hard to make things run as smoothly as possible. All help was appreciated, and special thanks go to John Ward for controlling yet again – someone else who just can’t say no? Two others who deserve special mention are Edmund who stepped in as organiser having not originally volunteered, and Nicola who showed exceptional commitment after minimal sleep. It’s a good thing those tapes were obvious!
Written by Rosemary Dyer