In the first week of November, two members of CUOC, Olly Tonge and Peter Molloy (your author), made a trip out to Portugal to compete at the rescheduled forest races of the Junior World Orienteering Championships in Aguiar da Beria, a region known for its beautiful forests, stunning scenery, and mayor who loves a never-ending speech or two. Excitingly, on the basis that CUOC has doubled our numbers at JWOC since the last edition, it will be only 7 years before every single competitor is from CUOC. The statistics speak for themselves.
Now, it should be said that the two of us were coming at this from different places, both metaphorically and geographically. Olly was sacrificing precious time in a packed term of second-year chemical engineering, slaving away at online lectures most nights, whilst I was coming from Georgia, where I am spending my year abroad, and had no work to do whatsoever cos I really am on a one-year holiday. Unlucky, mate. Anyway, after a couple of days of valuable training, we felt well and truly back in the swing of things and were ready to give it our all over the middle, relay and long races.
First up was the middle race and Olly coped handsomely with an extremely early start to record a solid forest debut in GB colours, taking a highly respectable 57th place finish in the end. I, having spent 4 hours shivering in quarantine, posted a 26th place result, which could have been a lot better if I hadn’t got stuck in some of the worst vegetation known to man on the way to the fourteenth control. Although, considering that it didn’t even manage to rip my bib off (the gold justification standard for orienteers complaining about getting stuck in grotty vegetation) you can choose not to believe me, if you’d prefer.
The next day dawned, and the thoroughly exciting prospect of the relay loomed large. I was on first leg for the GB first team, with Olly put on second leg for the second team. I’ve done many first leg shifts this year and was very excited to have one last chance in 2022, and was thus beyond delighted to come back in first, with a mighty, commanding, astonishing 7-second lead over the rest of the field. Dropped. I then proceeded to do lots and lots of very loud shouting, as this is the only natural reaction at this point. It was a fantastic moment, possibly one of the best of my life, but it still doesn’t even come close to setting out our very own Olly in first at the BUCS 2022 relay – I’d do anything for the light blue. Unfortunately, Olly’s first leg runner, who shall remain unnamed for legal reasons, set him off a long way down the field, but he still was a credit to the team and gained positions over the course of the leg.
The competition rounded itself off with the fabled long distance, for which we returned to the same arena that we’d each sweated off multiple stone back in the burning hot summer races. Luckily the drizzly, cloudy, grey, utterly uninspiring conditions were right up our alley. Olly was again lumped with an early start and performed well, unfortunately losing time on a particularly fiendish control hidden at the bottom of a cliff in the middle of a boulder field along a steep forested slope. I just wonder why he didn’t practice this skill more when he was in Cambridge – I mean, really, it’s not that hard to find similar terrain to that nearby… Meanwhile, I posted a 17th= finish, equalling the time of last year’s long distance winner and old enemy of the CUOC WUOC beer relay team, Basile Basset. I therefore infer that had I been allowed to go to JWOC last year, I would have won. Try convincing me otherwise.
After a successful week for the CUOC lads, where Olly should be commended for an excellent forest debut for GB in some seriously tricky forests, it was time for the afterparty. Now, the ensuing events would make for some fantastic CUOC website content, however I have no desire to be sued for libel and so will keep schtum. If you see me at an event some time soon, do ask me what happened. That being said, all CUOC members behaved with poise, dignity and grace throughout the evening. Well done us.