But it turned much warmer in the afternoon.
It’s 6.30 on Friday morning in half term, so why are we getting up? Because Friday of autumn and spring half terms is the designated day for a full day of junior club training. And this year we are again making use of Mardley Heath and its associated Scout Hut. Luckily the Scout Hut gives us easy access to an area unique in Hertfordshire and on which we can explain and demonstrate orienteering in an area of complex contours. Mind you with the temperature at 5 degrees and a heavy mist am I really looking forward to it?
However by 9 am, when we join Kevin and Alex at the hut the sun has begun to lift the mist so we set out to hang 35 controls for the morning’s exercises.
It’s now just after 10 and the rest of the coaches and athletes are arriving. We divide the athletes into two groups – those with a fair amount of orienteering experience and therefore mainly members of South East junior Squad (SEJS) and those with little or no orienteering background.
By 10.30 we are ready to go and both groups start with an indoor session – the beginners familiarising themselves with map symbols and contour detail and generally any games and work sheets that help them to understand map features. The more experienced group are straight into contour detail and before long they have gone outside to put theory into practice.
The beginners group, after a quick snack, are also outside on a map walk to their morning start. With a high number of coaches we are able to give personal attention to the beginners who are now into finding a number of controls before moving on to completing a short course. Soon it is time for this group to head back to the Scout Hut where the more experienced have been going through a session aimed at improving their post-race analysis, including the use of a variety of ideas from paper analysis to the use of GPS and Splitsbrowser.
At this point the coaches have to do a quick change routine – get in all the controls used in the morning and get out the controls for the afternoon session.
We then have a quick introduction to SI punching for the beginners and head back to a different part of the wood for an Odds and Evens relay. This is where it all, nearly, goes horribly wrong as our designated start area is currently occupied by forestry workers engaged in chopping down a number of dead and decaying silver birch trees. However our timing is not too bad as by the time the controls have been hung, the foresters have moved on to another part of the wood.
The junior attendees are then divided into teams of three and are soon engaged in a hectic relay race. Cleverly the coaches have selected a number of evenly matched teams and the competition soon hots up, as do the competitors and the weather.
By 2.45 the race is over, the controls are collected and we head back to return the juniors to their parents.
Our thanks to the juniors for coming, to coaches who gave up their day to impart their knowledge and advice and to the sun for lifting the mist and yet again providing us with another dry and warm day.
Hope to see you all again next time.