Thursday, February 21, 2013


Greg 'The Laird of Bannockburn' Barbour showed no mercy last night, with his wide swirl of the pots failing to find a fiver. The master of this north highland estate offered a brutal lesson in 'earning your keep' with a full scatter of dying English soldiers across the parched fields of Pymble Hill testimony to his tough love. At well over thirteen kilometres ('All Stations' had 13.3 or so on the clock), it was always going to be a big ask for the foot soldiers to go threes - fully two thirds of them slumping in the mud with jambed flintlocks, and without crossing the half way line.

The Laird seemed to be offering a new interpretation of the SSS battle plan - instead of deploying the armour across the A4 map in 'Larry' fashion (i.e., the pot scatter fitting under the outstretched hand), his tactic was to invoke a ancient family option - the Big Feet 'foot print' scatter. And looking rather like an Ian Thorpe footprint!

So it was on that misty afternoon. The damp was upon the ponies, the lonely piper upon The Strui, the last of the Glenfarclas, the hidden headquarters. All caused anxious glances and whispering amongst the troops, who were then rendered mute upon handing over the tenner. Here was a visually high key plan of the estate, with notation and a slim border in magenta. From highlands to lowlands, the defensive positions were well apart. Breaching the fort looked an impossible task. From Thurso and Wick (30/12) in the north, to Dumfries and Annan (8/11) in the south, to Montrose, Laurencekirk and Inverbervie (25/4/3) in the north east, Duns (9) in the east, and the central collection of the 'Steading' pots (Stirling, Falkirk and Peebles - 24/5/26), the Bannockburn estate was well guarded - and runners looked on in despair.

Adjusting their kilts, they gathered in small huddles - some retreated to vehicular barracks, and took a light broth. Others hoped a deep draft of The Steading might be in order. As one, they looked at the plan.

The central start position offered good routes to the north (5/24), east (6/16) and south (15/27), with many if not most troops liking the 5/24 beginning. The intriguing placement of #15 offered another option, the in-out beginning. Those that remembered the Feet's previous outing on this war soaked field, looked at the south and shuddered at the memory - and spent all their planning time justifying why north was better. Flatter of course, and that great 110 point arc up towards the Orkney's, looked a lot more fun than the flog of exhaustion in the south (29/9/25).

A common route march north led on from 24, upgrade to 18, straight on to 2 and 13 (many included #14), ignore #1, and run on to 21, circle east and tuck into some distance work with 22-23 before adding 26 and fiddling around 16/6 before exploding home via 15. Variations dropped #21, added #10 on the Loch Ness stretch, and working up from #23 to add 4,3,25. The 23-26 routers even included the odd in-out 25 claimant amongst them (including Captain Pork Pie).

Of interest is Glenn's full bag route - beginning 6,16,5,24, before a clockwise add and an interesting haggis like middle bit (26,7,28,9,29), and finishing 17 in-out 27,15 and home. I suppose Glenn's work is just a run, an awesome one at that, but once he has inked the map with the flouro line, he just charges off. The lot no matter what. In contrast, the work of the 45 minute men and women (most of the rest of us) demands planning and probably replanning on route as the tock ticks. Interesting to think what 'The King' left off - running 500 at 59 seconds over for his 490 win over Andrew Hill's 480. My guess would be 28,29,9,11,8 off the agenda, but splits and route gadget might prove me wrong. Anyway, that's what I'd leave off!

The south linked well but involved the clammy embrace of our friend Contour Kate - especially those runners, going anti, that felt the chill at #29 and knew that they had work to do before they would next savour a wee dram. As if twenty nine is not bad enough, I wonder who shouldered arms at #28? Another of our 'down, down, points are down' options (sing along please), that added to the challenge of the day.

I loved the Orkney Arc, Gail loved the doggy park below #26, Ted took a fancy to #10 - and all loved #24 and its descriptor of 'Chair'. Who was half expecting an abandoned Lazy Boy? Who thought they were watching the Green Mile?

OK. A very tough ask is our summary position, and a course way outside our 10-11 klm norm. However, it was a grand puzzler, with many string men unable to settle on an attack plan, and beeping off still wondering where to go - with an incontinence pad at the ready. If we are after these route choice conundrums, then The Laird delivered. He doesn't quite claim from The Gordon Highlander's famous Balmoral Tram all time low point panting (I'm liking the Scottish links here, Gordy being of royal blood), but came close. Let's have a look at some performances and stats as the armies take to the field at Culloden.

Firstly, we had just over 200 troops on the Moor (196 entries plus another ten holding rein), which is an excellent turn out up north. New faces on the flog are noted, as are the addicts who continue to delight the turnstile attendants. We had runners scoring at most points of the 600 point compass - except no one home for 470,450 and 150. If Ed 'My God' Maingot had just not had that 49 second break bandaging the musket wound, he might have inched up from 140 to 150 (uh, but then no one on 140!). Oh well.

Our longest on course award goes again to Tim Perry 'S Lookdown' (who might have wandered up to the Blue Mountains and Perry's Lookdown and not be sticking to my Scotland the Brave storyline), with his wonderful 95.38 minute outing last night. Timbo almost did the Full Glenn (a close cousin of the Full Monty), working 580 before the cruelty of Debbies Download Depressant gave him 70 for his troubles. Be interesting to see what twenty didn't fit - maybe #17?? Others enjoying the evening before final drinks with Rob Roy, were Angus & Heidi out for 59.02, Glenn's aforementioned 58.25 and Dale Thommo on a high fifty six - and hoping Rosscoe doesn't mention it.

Our most popular score seems to be 240 points with eleven runners. Ten more got ten, as did 290. All other scores had multiple claimants, apart from Richard and Andy - and Michael Weiner, a lonely 420 OM after copping a two seconder and having to leave the 430 barracks and stand outside. The timing feat of the evening was young Duncan Currie in his blistering 370 pointer in exactly 45 minutes. In similar fashion, Natalya 'The Pancake' Filippova was in on 46.00, and two celtic kings at 44.00 (Ant Burnett & Martin Mansfield). Only three .01's this week, with Ron 'The Rockstar' Garner the most annoyed at 46.01, followed by a couple of 'forty four is not quite enough' blokes - who held back on the dipstick to record 44.01's (Mal Gledhill and Matt Berry).

Of our age group winners and leaders, we see a full board this week, although Karla (240) is our only JW to claim. I've mentioned Dunk, but good to see Callum 'The Next King Of The Rock' Davis joining us with a tidy 320 pings in SJM. Tshinta managed fifty over Ellen (220/170) in SJW, Matty Hill used some local knowledge to outpoint Kaj, Mike and Jay in JM, Andrew Hill's 480 (second only to Richard's 490 in MM) gives him the service medal in OM - from Andy Brown (460), Tommy & Steve (440's) and a triple claim at 430 from Jeremy, Mark and 'The Putter'. In OW, nice to see a tie, with Catherine on fire here, levelling with Gill on a sensational 410 points - ten clear of 'The Napier Earthquake', and another ten on from 'County' Claire Winnick (one of the several Irish soldiers yesterday attempting to defrock the Laird of Bannockburn).

Neil and Kar-Soon take bronze in MM behind Dick and Glenn (with 430's), with Danny Dohle working up a thirst on 410 to hold the jug from Dave 'What's Under The Kilt' Kricker (400). In MW, Alison is on song from Sarah 'Sir' Walter 'Scott' and Julia Clements (350/310/300), Sharon Lambert goes 300 herself (VW), as does Karin in SVW. The Debs couldn't quite bridge the gap here, her 280 holding Carol Jacobson (270), but not enough to catch the Westleigh Wonder.

A no show from The Burt, so Malcolm Bradley slips onto the podium with a nice 430 point win in VM. Mark Savery is thirty back, but holds a trio of fearsome Picts (who are reputed to have torn off their clothes and rushed into frenzied battle naked!!) by ten. Graeme McLeod 'Of Glen Affric', Peter Hopper and Andy Smith 'Of Speyside' are these very warriors.

In a stand out SVM run last night Ross Emslie is obviously fully recovered from his 'dip' at the vineyard last week, and claims from Mel Cox 380 to 370. Mel might not be too happy here Ross, so keep your eye on anything sharp hidden in the Cox tartan kilt. Mike Ward took home a 340, while 'The Pillow' and 'Double Demerits' both had to settle for 320's. In Larry's case, too much pre battle planning is to blame. No sign of the Flickster or 'The Trouser' last night, with your correspondent just managing to hold Ken and Terry (330/320's) in LM. Ron 'Nigela' Junghans was back a bit, a tough broccoli in hand. In IM, Heiko and Ted tied on 330 (from Tim Cox with an excellent 300), which sees this contest really hotting up. Show the old blokes The Clay Pan and let's see who fires - and who has to call the nurse!

Bryony wins from MJ and Marg in LW, Janet shares the win in IW with June Stanley (both 190's) and ten on from Sue - which is also upping the anti here. Good run June, good run Janet, with Sue hoping for a toppy next week to stay clear. The Pan might sort here big time! In the walkers, Jim 'The Earl of Dunblane' Merchant went smartly out and back again for 240 (and a nip of Glenfiddich), well clear of Mathew Morgan's 190. In the ladies, a much bigger field, but the same top score - from Michelle of course. I wonder if she walked the same route as The Earl? Kerryn posted 190, Ruth Jacka 180, Lesley Cox 160, and Julie 130 - and not forgetting Gail's 120 after her fifty minute walk enjoying the location.

I usually like to 'finger' a few more scores, so today we look at the Legends Men from underneath the kilt. Leading us here is Graham 'Hamish' Horrocks, chief Summer Series dad and great supporter of all raids across the border. Graham posted 180 after his diversionary tactics along Loch Rannoch meant he was out on his horse for 58.53 - and considerably reducing his beepometers initial 320. Following on from 'Lord Horrocks', we have Dave 'Of Dundee' Dash, a known outlaw of the Sidlaw Hills and a man  of pace and purpose. DD's 210 comes after surrendering twenty to the Big Foot toll booth operator at Broughty Ferry. Something he can't guarantee wont happen again. Next up, Terry 'The Hanging Judge' Murphy with 230 after arriving at court nearly five minutes early! Terry will be looking to his bailiff to Bring Up The Bodies, as he moves to prosecute course setters with scottish ancestry and residents of Castle Roseville who spend too much time reading. We also see Er 'Nest Of Vipers' Windscuttel on the same 230 points as Terry - this time chalked after a twenty over 250. Another solid run by this LM stalwart.

I also noted OW Skye 'Tim Tam' Arnott last night - on what might be her initial outing this season. Skye had been with us many moons ago, and chucks a 210 onto the brazier for this first up flogerooney. Hope she can make a few more - and bring mum! Quite a few runners with no club noted, although it might just be a database issue. Welcome anyway to Pete de Lissa (OM 310), Andrew 'The Titanic' Shipton (OM 300), Meredith 'Gwen' Dodds (OW 280), Shaun Locke (MM 270), Mitchell 'The Governor General' Isaacs (OM 260), Emily Poole (OW 250), and Shrau Malkani (MM 240) - amongst quite a few others enjoying the tartan blanket of Pymble Hill.

More observations? Heck why not. A curious one first up. Peter Annetts modest (for him) 340 post after riding the war horse across 420 points, but going way over time (52.54). I would have expected The Poet to go high threes - which is where we see a great run from 'The Bottle' (Rowan Bouttell). His 410-30 (for 380) is a sensational score, matched by 'The Horse', and must be one of Lord Bouttell's finest. While I'm in VM mode, I note Wiz with a 350 post, which seems to mean this great lieutenant of the series is back from walking mode to running! Good one. Also noted is Nick Dent 'Of Dumfermline' (SVM 300) down from Terrigal for the battle, and wondering why so few of 'us' have failed to enter the O'Shea two day event coming up this weekend at Dooralong Lodge. Thinking O? Think CCO and this classic three event funster to start the bush season. Call now!

Also noted with sporran well secured, Michael Roylance planning a 300/290 and getting it. No cunning distractions from 'The Stationmaster' this week. Wazza rushed in and out for 360, but well over time (270 final), with Shane Henry another o/t man - his 390 being whittled back by old father time (to 270!). Eric 'The Viking' Smith is noted as a 210 post, but back somewhat early (41.48), with the absolute early bird being Pete Donnelley 'Of Dunkeld' - home in 32.33 (for 180) after not being able to hold the Pike aloft any longer.

That'll do folks, so, lets wrap and inch forward to next week.

A big thankyou to Greg and his team of Feet for the a hard one but a cunning one. Some great loops, some juicy in-outs, tempters that weren't worth it, tempters that were, long legs that disengaged the brain, and short legs that needed high grade fuel - and not forgetting plenty of tidy lawns in this part of Tayside. Great thinking needed near the start/finish - and the Arc of Orkney! Aaah, I could go on.

Next week brings us up to Beacon Hill and a new map, The Clay Pan. Jim 'The Motorman' Merchant is our setter and our mapper - having spent many moons upon the 'pan' (no, not that pan!) with coloured pencils and sighting compass. This new area features some 'normal' park and street orienteering as you might expect, but also has a significant and unusual bush area where there should be action aplenty. This map should offer a new definition of the word 'bush track' and promises to become a classic SSS (and wider orienteering) venue. Don't miss this one for quids.

Jim offers the following comments: "There are several control located off the track network, as well as a couple of cross country route choice options. Competitors choosing to visit these controls or use these route choice options may wish to wear full body cover". Mmmmm, Jimbo, intriguing stuff indeed, and sounding more like the SSS of old. Bring it on!            


Also Ran said...

There was certainly much cogitation required before setting out - a sign of good course setting. I eventually settled on the northern and eastern loops, as a majority of others did. I felt that there weren't quite enough points on offer in the mountainous southeast to tempt the average punter.

Fly on the Wall said...

Sadly, another course way too long despite clearly commmunicated guidelines prior to the series. The south just looked way too hilly, as we discovered on last year's torture here. This was a genuine rogaine in that you had to rule out lots of the course, but that only made for a lot of dead running. Still, I had my boredom occasionally interrupted by seeing rabbits in front yards and at one stage (perhaps coming out of 26)v I even ran across an astroturf nature strip - must be some serious coin tucked away in Pymble !

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