Strugara Struggles


Been a busy couple of days, so this is the first chance to update.

Note, the next Region 3 champs are in Hongcheon, Korea, a scenic resort town in the NE (of Sth Korea, of course). Hard to imagine it was as far back as 2008 when we last went to World Champs there. 1st->6th September 2013.

Sept 20th, 2m ARDF

All of us were on 2m yesterday. If you thought the first day was steep and hilly, this was extreme !  Very steep hills all over the place not only makes it physically demanding, but the 2m signals bounce all over the place, giving many odd bearings. You are sure to climb more of those steep hills mistakenly, or perhaps just to get a decent bearing for once, which you wouldn’t orienteering.

All made it back on time. Ewen and Kristian down a couple of TXs, but still had value for money both close to the 150min time limit.

The podium was dominated by Czech Republic, followed by Russia and Ukraine. Others with an occasional mention were Hungary (Karoly who gave me a lift to Budapest placed in W60), Germany, Slovakia, Croatia, USA (Ruth and Karla in W70), Great Britain (a long strived for Gold for Bob Titterington in M70) and Swedon.

This time we bussed to the map rather than walking as it was a few km down the hill. Once you saw the map it was clear there was little point in taking bearings before you’d scaled the large hill ahead of you. In retrospect my bearings weren’t bad, but since they all seemed to point much the same way it was very demoralising and not confidenence inspiring. Turned out they’d cleverly aligned 3 of the TX’s such that from the top of the hill they do appear in a line. They all seemed much the same signal strength too (as the most distant was on a hilltop, and the middle one was obscured. This leaves you with not much of a plan of attack. There are 3 that all seem the same, and another that is down south of the finish, so despite it being strong-ish, ignore that one. In M40 you skip the other one so ignore that too.

I chose to head for the one that gave the most consistant directions and seemed slightly stronger, and take it from there. An unfortunate decision, as I managed to bypass the other 2 in that line-up (when they were off), and get clear over to the complete opposite corner of the map before I finally got my first control. Just under 50mins and all I had was one, and traversed uncountable number of contours !! Even worse, after all that high altitude clambering, I’d lost contact with the map.

Things got gradually better. I got another control, and then regained proper map contact after getting to a good intersection. Things are looking up, only 2 to go, and I now have a better idea where they are (or at least, know where they aren’t). Knowing where you are results in saner route choices and much more confidence, so I knocked off the rest of the course in 40mins, at least moving all the time, if not able to keep a fast pace on the mountains. Only another 12mins to scramble back to the finish beacon along a tree strewn creek. And a mostly downhill finish chute (long though!).

I thought my disastrous first leg would consign me to the nether regions of the results. Yet another ARDF event where things could have gone better.  I was therefore quite surprised at my 16th place. Not a great result, but in the circumstances a bit unbelievable. Seems others had difficulties out there too. Many had more problems closing in on transmitters, whereas my problems were more strategic, and finding the transmitters went reasonably smoothly, once I actually started.

Kristian made some even worse decisions early on which meant he never had much idea of where things were. He finally got atop a hill and worked a few out, but he was not able to get his M21 5 TXs. He did, however, amke it back on time.

Ewen appeared to fare well initially, even finding one by accident, but spent a lot of time struggling with the more distant controls. He found 2 of the 4, but again just made it back on time. He has become an expert at stringing out those waiting for his return, and on the point that it seems all is lost, Ewen will appear in the distance.

Bruce’s 2m map board

There was meant to be FoxOr training this evening, but since the organisers were delayed searching for some missing competitors, it was delayed so much that most had no idea it happened. Apparently it started sometime during the closing presentations.

A busy day as immediately after the presentations and closing there was the Banquet. This was called a “HamFest”. Long time blog readers will know that we discovered, way back in Germany in 2001, that a HamFest is not the same thing as HamFest back in Oz. This has nothing to do with 2nd hand swapping of goods that will no doubt appear at the next hamfest, but much more to do with food, and beer. Banquet was held in the ginormous indoor sports hall as part of the hotel complex here, and I’d rate it above the MTBO one.

Jenelle: The banquet was a wonderful opportunity to say goodbye to the new people we have met, the girls from the Czech team, the young Chinese girls that James and I met at R3, and the old friends from our last trip in Croatia.

Sept 21th, 80m FoxOr Championships


It was a bit alarming this morning as ordinary commuters hopped aboard our bus (one of many) going to the FoxOr. And then again at the next bus stop. What’s going on ? None of the other buses stopped ! Are we in fact the normal town bus that just happened to be parked amongst the others, and we’re instead on our way off somewhere else ?  However, it did stop at the right place, so we all got off quickly just in case.

Now this event is one we should do well at, surely ?  We’ve had lots of orienteering and FoxOr practice; should be a cinch, right ?

Well, have to say the outstanding result from today Jennelle T, who thought she was hopelessly overtime, but in fact had miscalculated the time, and ended up 5th in W60. She managed 3 controls, and probably could have done more, but the time limit panic meant she was back in good time. This feat is with a borrowed 80m sniffer from the Brits, as our ARDF club one couldn’t be coaxed to cover the frequencies needed. Jenelle hasn’t used an 80m sniffer before.

Jenelle: I have been severalmeltdowns this week as to whether I could use an 80m sniffer, so with about 10minute tuition from Ewen after last night’s banquet, I was still melting down this morning. This probably explains how I short changed my finish time by 20 minutes. I took a rather leisurely walk down the finish chute with a short run to the control and didn’t even bother to check the results board.  The only casualty was my only pair of shoes that are now drying out. Not sure how many creeks I crossed. Special thanks for the loan of the equipmment from David (It worked like a dream) and the SI stick and compass from Bruce.

Ewen and Kristian both miscalculated how far they were from the finish, and both overtime by a few minutes. Kristian was most complimentary about Greg W’s sniffer, so he may have difficulty getting it back, especially after the various mods we’ve made to it over the last few days.

I was back in time, in fact in better time than I thought (18th) because the start was in fact 2mins after our advertised start time. However I had to skip two FoxOrs, one heartbreakingly only a couple of minutes detour, as I headed to the finish, due to lack of time. The reason I was lacking time was I had in fact no working DF gear at all !  Yes, I managed to do all but 2 controls at an International FoxOr with no sniffer at all. I did wave it about a bit near controls, just to let the transmitter sitters think I was doing something, but in fact I was watching them, looking at where they were looking, watching other competitors, or pretending to search while I waited for some M70 competitor to finally puff up the hill and lead me in.

Basically at some point after the 2nd control, my headphone socket ended up irretriveably inside my 80m sniffer. It’s perhaps ironic that I had decided to not use the FM headphone link today, as it had given me some issues on the sprint event, and had elected to go the simple headphone route…..   Mind you, my sniffer could barely hear the FoxOr transmitters more than 10m away anyway, so it was of limited utility, even when it was working.

The “watching”, or in foxhunting parlance “following from in front”, backfired badly twice though, as I followed a likely looking competitor away from the FoxOr instead of towards it. I had no way to know they had already punched. Even worse, in the 1st case I had to relocate after I finally figured out I was following the wrong horse. This all was the main reason I was running low on time.

Back at the hotel Kristian and I had a beer or to two, in one of the many pubs/cafes, with the British who were drowning their sorrows (they hadn’t had a great day at the FoxOr either). Some really interesting discussions about getting people interested in ARDF, how the Czech’s did it, and how trying to get typical Amateurs to try is largely a waste of time. With all those I’ve talked to in various countries, diffculties in growing the sport appear to be universal. One of the Brits works teaching english in the same town in Czech Republic Jiri Marecek lives, and there seem to be many parallels with the Bendigo O.C. success in promotion in orienteering. Not too large a town, easy access to terrain, only a few (or one in Jiri’s case) school to target. Lots of events.

Time to pack up the bike and get ready for early morning departure tomorrow. I never did get to do the downhill ride.the  A deep fog moved in temporarily, obscuring the fact the lift was turning, but I eventually managed a conversation, with lots of hand waving and about 2 words of English, with the lift towie. Found it closes at 3pm (it was 3:05pm) and takes only 200 Dinar (A$2) for a single ride up.

It’s been fun, hope you’ve enjoyed following our adventures.

Oh and Strugara of the blog title ?  For those who made it all the way down this far, it’s the name of today’s FoxOr map.

2 Replies to “Strugara Struggles”

  1. Hi Bruce
    Sounds like you have had the most amazing time. Been great seeing all this sights, making me restless to be off somewhere O/S again. How has the knee held up?? That is some knee brace you have been wearing.
    Catch you when you get back – not sure when that will be.

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