Over the weekend of the 13/14th of April, juniors from the North East, North West, East & West Midlands and Yorkshire Junior Squads gathered in Malham, North Yorkshire to take part in a training weekend. Staying overnight at the Malham Tarn Field Study Centre, squads trained on three areas (Monks Road, East and West Malham) in rotation. These areas consisted of limestone pavement and open moorland – terrain very similar to what competitors will face at the British Long Champs at Kilnsey on 5th May.
Below are two accounts of the weekend by two relatively new full squad members:
Sam Todd (SYO): “I awoke early to my alarm on Saturday morning, feeling nervous about my day ahead. We took just over 2 hours to drive to our first training place up at West Malham area where we met with the all the other members of the Yorkshire and Humberside Junior Orienteering squad. The first area had very vague contour detail and quite a bit of limestone pavement (broken bare rock). There was a crossing point exercise where you went out in pairs and were supposed to navigate to a control, then to a mandatory crossing point, where your partner would pick up and take over navigation. There was also a pick exercise where there were a lot of controls closer together and also an attack point exercise where each control was the attack point for the next control. This was very good training for the rapidly upcoming British, as the British will be held on a very similar area – Kilnsey Moor. After a good few courses, we sat down for a few minutes to have our lunches, then walked back to the car park to head off to our next area – East Malham.
It was fairly similar, but quite a bit bigger and larger sections of limestone pavement. There were again a wide variety of exercises focussing on different things each time, so there was lots to go at. However, I think I pushed myself self too hard, and ended up with quite a painful blister on my left toe. After we had finished at East Malham, we drove to where we were going to be spending the night: Malham Study Field Centre.
We put our bags in our room and made our beds, then it was time for the sprint relays. As we walked out on the lawn, there was a great atmosphere. There was a big speaker with music playing and commentary by Dom, Ryan and some juniors from other squads. They did a great job presenting it! I was very nervous as it was my first ever relay event, but I think I did quite well. There were three different classes, each with different mass starts. We were team number 8 in the B class and I was running second leg, which I was pleased about. While all this was happening, Jacky Dakin was in the kitchen, preparing dinner. It was Pasta Bolognese, which was absolutely lovely, and just what we needed after a long day orienteering. We had sticky toffee pudding for dessert, which was equally delicious. Then, we had some free time before some technical coaching sessions indoors. Nick Lightfoot’s presentation about the JK, was brilliant and helped me feel a lot more confident on how to prepare for the big races. There was also a recap of the day, followed by a look at the maps for the next day’s area. Finally, exhausted, we headed for bed.
The next morning, we woke up and went to breakfast. After breakfast, we prepared our own lunches of a sandwich, a packet of crisps, some fruit and a snack. Then, we had to go and pack our bags and tidy our rooms before we could go out. We loaded up the car with our bags so we could come straight back and go. It was a fairly short walk up a steep hill from the centre to get to today’s training ground. There were a good few courses to go at again, but it was a lot colder than yesterday. Once I had done a few courses, I collected a few controls in with Nick. We got back to find everyone sat in the tent keeping warm. I was so so cold! We walked back down to our car to try and warm up again, then said goodbye to everyone. It was really sad that the weekend was over already, but I loved every moment. Thank you to everyone who came along for organising it all!”
Anna Todd (SYO): “This was my first ever full squad weekend, so I was very excited but a tiny bit nervous. As soon as we’d started, I knew that there was no reason to be nervous. We met all the other orienteers at the car park in the village, before driving up to our first location – Malham West. We had a quick warm up jog, and then started our training. The terrain was quite easy running, except from the large sections of limestone pavement and the occasional patch of tussocks. All the courses were interesting and took us to the different parts of the area. We had a variety of courses to choose from: the crossing points course, where you had to navigate to the control and then the crossing point before handing the map over to your partner; the control pick, which was a normal course (this helped me get used to the terrain); and the attack point course, where every control was an attack point for the next one. At roughly 12:30, we had our lunch, which tasted amazing after all the courses that we’d done.
We then drove to Malham Central. Our base was a crag which provided us plenty of shelter from the vicious wind. We warmed up again, and then were told about the courses on offer. We could practice control flow, aiming off, using catching features and attack points. I started on the catching features – which was a good course, even though we had to run up the same hill quite a few times from different directions! Unfortunately, I had to stop after that course due to my blisters. The terrain was interesting, with one hill and lots of limestone pavement, most of which you needed to run over.
We drove to the field centre, which lots of people seemed to know (I seemed to be one of the only ones who hadn’t been before). Once we’d helped ourselves to cake and any hot drink or squash, we were then allocated our rooms, all of which were in the North Wing. I was in room 8 with Freya and Alex C. It was a very nice room with a single bed, a bunk bed and our own bathroom. Soon, everyone was unpacked and getting ready for the inaugural BML Print Sprint Relay. Robbie, Freya and I created the playlist and in roughly half an hour, the relays were ready to start. First, we were put into teams with people from the other regions. We found out that there were 3 races: race A, race B and race C. I was a second leg runner in race A- Hannah Mather was passing onto me and I was passing onto Peter Scott. The race started and soon, I was off running in the grounds of the Field Centre. I had a good run, even though it’s not my favourite terrain. I think I got another blister, which hurt when I walked; I made a mental note to get some bigger inov8s.
Soon, everyone was enjoying a lovely tea of Jacky’s homemade spaghetti bolognaise. We had talks from both Nick Lightfoot (about race preparation) and Pete Tryner (about the courses that we had been doing that day). Then, the day was drawn to an end and all the orienteers lay in bed, ready for the next day.
My alarm rang at 7:15am, telling me that it was time to get up. Breakfast – at 8 o’clock – was almost whatever we wanted. We made our lunch, and at 10ish, we could start heading up to Monk’s Road, the terrain which is most like Kilnsey (the place where the British Long will be held). We were in small groups, completing gaffled courses. I did my first course, and then got some padding on my blisters. Later, I went out for a walk with Nick, partly to collect controls, but mostly to look at the contours and other features. The terrain was good with many ruined walls, and more contours than the other areas. We set off back to the Field Centre, and soon were driving back home.
The whole trip was a great experience and really fun. I’m really looking forward to the next one.”
Thanks very much to Sam and Anna Todd for those brilliant reports of the weekend, and to James Garnett for all the wonderful pictures.
Our thanks also go to all the coaches (from all the squads, not just YHJS) who were instrumental in running what was a brilliant weekend – whether it was planning & organising the trainings, hanging controls, organising accommodation, catering, giving us lifts (or anything else we’ve forgotten!) – we all really appreciated the time and effort you put in.
And finally a huge thank you to BML Print, who very kindly printed all the maps for the weekend (you may have noticed the sprint relay sponsorship mentioned in Anna’s report!)
We hope our juniors put in some strong performances over the British Champs Weekend, and that the training pays off at Kilnsey!