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CUOC go to the Harvesters

Last weekend, 7 CUOCers (and Zuzka, who defected to DRONGO) had fun running around in the dark/fog/light at Cleeve Hill for the Harvester Relay. There were also a couple of other relays surrounding it, just in case we needed to do three races in two days.

Harris Relay

The mini mass start at 0700

Helen, Paul and Rory left Cottenham on Saturday morning, in time to pick up DRONGO Sarah in Bicester, before continuing to Cranham for a Harris relay. Cranham is famous for two things: firstly, being the venue for BUCS relays back in February, where CUOC's teams included 'Federated States of Dobraland', and also for some kind of cheese rolling race. This time around, we kept up the Dobra related names, and 'Tom Dobra Appreciation Society' ran another relay on a different part of the area.

A Harris relay is a special format where there are a number of 'spine' controls, which every team member must visit, as well as lots of extra controls which at least one person has to go to. All team members run at once, and the team's time is the difference between the first start punch and last finish punch. The team managed to come 1st out of the proper teams, but were beaten by two teams who managed to get a -40% handicap just because they only had one runner. Most importantly, we beat the DRONGO (and JOK) team of Nick, Sarah and Tom.

The Harvester Relay

Dave leads his team to victoryHelen finishes leg 3

While the others were doing the Harris relay, Carrie, Fiona and Dave got lifts in Ben and Matthew's cars from Cambridge to Cleeve Hill. Unfortunately, hailstorms and graduation ceremonies don't mix very well, so Zuzka and Ben were delayed and we set off later than planned. En route we stopped off in/near Warwick to pick up Jeremy where we had a picnic on his front lawn with some nice normal tea kindly provided by Ms Knott, who was slightly confused by our insistence in eating outside rather than in her warm house. We got to Cleeve Hill just in time to register after meeting up with Helen P, Rory and Paul to form our complete CUOC team.

Not long after setting up the tents, the relay started. It was comprised of seven legs, each between 6.1 km and 13 km, starting at 11.30pm. Cleeve Hill consisted of runnable open grassland, along with the eponymous hill, an escarpment and a quarry for some contour practice. There was also lots of well-mapped gorse and golf greens which helped a lot with navigation!

Helen, Rory and Carrie ran the first three legs in the dark. Unfortunately, a thick fog fell during Helen's run which even Paul's brighter-than-the-sun headtorch couldn't penetrate, but she eventually found her control after wandering around both on and off the map. Fiona and Jeremy ran their courses in the daylight, whilst Dave and Paul got to sleep until 6am before both taking part in the mini mass start at 7am. Dave was very proud of finishing 10 minutes faster than Paul (who may or may not have had over twice the distance to run!). Overall CUOC came 13th out of 15th and, more importantly, were faster than DRONGO by an infinite amount (they mispunched).

Two CUOCers were awake to watch the prize-giving where combine harvesters were awarded (in trophy format) as well as beer. The sleepiest of CUOC finally awoke by 9.30am but only after Dave and Jeremy had threatened to take the tent down from around them. After munching some delicious pineapple-upside-down cake and raspberry cake provided by Matthew and Ms Knott respectively, we finally took down the tents (the rest of the campsite deserted by this point)! Jeremy and Zuzka left at this stage but the rest of CUOC headed to Dyrham Park for some more orienteering.

Adams Avery Relay


Three mixed CUOC/DRONGO teams took part in the Adams Avery Relay at Dyrham Park: DRONGO serious action (Rory, Matthew, Fiona); DRONGO don't shoot me (Carrie, Paul 'Prevzina', Dave); and DRONGO dibbers (Tom, Ben S, Helen 'Prwzina'). We weren't handicapped enough to run competitively for the A course so we entered the Ad Hoc race instead. All teams performed well, claiming all three podium positions - a podium we made ourselves using a National Trust fence. Notably, the only team that contained three CUOC members (DRONGO don't shoot me) claimed the top spot. DRONGO dibbers and DRONGO serious action came second and third respectively. In particular, Dave had a great run to come from almost four minutes down to overtake both other teams and bring Don't Shoot Me into the lead.

Norway Day 5

Liam finishes Tour Champs

Today was Tour Champs, which had been expertly planned by Helen O, even though she didn't see fit to actually come on the trip. So instead, Paul got up early and hung the controls. We used the area immediately north of the hut, which was good for the most part, except for some unmapped felling in a small area. The runners were set off in reverse order of estimated speed, and this estimate got the order exactly right. Jonathan set off second last, wearing the head camera, so hopefully managed to get some good footage as he overtook people. Rory set off actually last to collect all the controls while walking round because he's #injured and had fun taking photos and being 'played with by a dog'.

There had been a lot of rain last night, so everything was very wet, but the weather today was really sunny which was nice.

Once everyone was done, we packed up and cleared and cleaned the huts, which took a while, but we had lots of time so it was OK. Dave got worried that we would clean the toilet before he got a chance to use it, so we did that at the very last minute. In the end, we were finished early, so after Liat had shown off her impressive tree climbing skills and we had all basked on the rock for a while, we locked up and set off for the station.

The walk took just under an hour, and we stopped just before the station to get ice cream, which was very cold, unlike the sun, which was very hot. We left Jason at the station, who was heading to Bergen to see a friend, then got the train and bus to the airport. Then we had loads of time to spare, so spent a while in the tourist shop,where Liat bought one of everything, and Helen didn't buy any bilar. Going through security, Rory's penkife got #confiscated because it had a serrated blade, so it has been sent in the post. Hopefully he'll get it back sometime.

When we got back to Stansted we had to go through passport checks, which took ages because most people aren't able to use an e-passport check machine, even though there are instructional sheets and videos every 3m for the entire queue, which was very long. We had to run for the 2030 train, which Jonathan and Sam caught because they left for it early, and everyone else missed. Lindsay and Jeremy left us here too. The rest of us then sat on the platform until 2127, when Liam left, then got the train back to Cambridge before going our own ways.

Norway Day 4

Dave's feet and the broken hatSometimes midge repellent just isn't effective enough

Update from last night - everyone survived the walk, but the Dan hat did not. While taking off a jumper, Dave forgot he was wearing it and it fell off and the propeller broke. However, Jeremy has said he will try to fix it, so that's alright.

Today the training was at Skaran, which is about an hour's walk north of the hut. Paul had planned a few courses around the very south of the area, with some people focusing on attackpoints, and others doing a long legs course, in which 4 legs covered 4.5km. The area was more runnable than on previous days, although still quite rough, but also very boggy in places. Unfortunately there had been a fair bit of unmapped felling, which made one of the long legs quite difficult, but it was still good fun.

The weather stayed dry for the morning and lunch, during which we played catch using Helen. John and Richard collected some morning controls, then left early to get their flight home. Everyone was sad to see them go.

The afternoon activity was a two part exercise for Dave, Liam and Jeremy - the first bit being learning to plan courses, the second practice at hanging them. 'Dave's Spectacular Extravaganza' (hung by Lindsay), 'Jezza's Jolly Jape' and 'Ive's Five Cliff Dives' were well planned courses, and all the controls were in the right place, so obviously the training has been working. While the hangers were out it got wet and cold, so we huddled under a couple of dense trees.

In the evening after we'd all got back we had carbonara, and Paul managed to persuade certain people to watch something other than #Orange is the New Black . After a brief interlude, we had stacks and stacks of waffles, halfway through which Helen decided we needed to do a 2.5 minute plank. So we did, then ate more waffles. Paul produced some final details for tour champs, then everyone went to bed .

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