Sunday 27th May 2007
Bucknall Regional Event
Planning at Bucknell Wood proved to be quite challenging. My aim was to allow as many of you as possible to experience as much as possible of the three pleasant and 'feature rich', but separated, areas of the wood. However, in doing so I tried to avoid the worst gradients and the areas most affected by forestry work - whilst minimising mindless track running and creating long enough courses. I hope the resulting route choices and selection of navigational problems, together with some physical challenge and variation in terrain, combined to provide a satisfactory balance for most competitors.
From comment and discussion prior to the event expectations varied from courses being "on the short side" to "it must be a typically physical Wrekin hill". A scan of the results would seem to indicate that the former got more than expected and, from comments at the Finish the latter were pleasantly surprised. I had used as my benchmark the distances and climbs employed at Bury Ditches, SInS 2005, but I must admit to some last minute concerns that I had under-cooked the course lengths when compared to those for Titterstone Clee and Brampton Bryan. However, most winning times seem tolerably near to the mark for a multi-day event. For anyone who felt short-changed I hope you might reflect on your course as a foul weather alternative.
Finally, thank you to all who gave me assistance - in particular to Jill and of course to Barry McGowan whose patience was several times tested.
I hope you will all return to Bucknell Wood on another occasion when the weather will show the area at its best, giving you the views I had promised and sightings of the deer and the Buzzards. "Shropshire to savour."
Charlie Leventon (WRE)
The failure to secure one of the flat fields near the start/finish at a late stage caused a considerable headache. Charlie had planned his courses with these fields in mind and it was unfortunate that the change meant a longer walk to and from the competition area than originally intended. During the mapping of this new area we also encountered problems, as the forestry just kept on hacking way at the forest long after we were led to believe operations would end.
The angle of slope on the available fields was a big concern, which was made several times worse by the awful weather on the day. However the parking team did a great job, not only getting you all in, but also getting you out again. A quick visit to the landowner, who could not have been more accommodating, resulted in some additional parking being made available at very short notice.
The actual orienteering administration went like clockwork, a testament to the dedication of the people staffing the various positions for long periods in cold and wet conditions.
I hope your enjoyment of the event made their efforts worthwhile.
Brian Morris (WRE)
I first visited Bucknell in late February shortly after a decision had been made to move the event to the Northern Long Mynd due to continuing felling work (all trees marked with a red blob!).
I was rather charmed by the area which although steep and a fairly typical Wrekin area, seemed to have the appropriate level of difficulty, if a little short of complex contour detail apart from lots of platforms.
I was pleased when a few weeks later the decision was reversed and Bucknell went ahead on the half promise of no more felling, but needing a revision to the draft courses and updates to the map.
The first use of an area is always difficult as the course lengths cannot really be compared to anything. When, like Charlie Leverton , I saw the lengths of the other days from the final details and from rude comments on the SINS blog, I felt we might have got it badly wrong. The times in the end were not unreasonable, the courses possibly a little short.
You didn't see the forest at its best; the huge glades of bluebells, the slow run woodlands lightened by bright sunshine, the glorious views from the summit areas.
On the Saturday evening as I drove back to the campsite the car was completely covered in dust. It wasn't the following day. I thank on your behalf all those helpers who spent much of the day in the pouring rain, Pete Jones for the new map and half another one and Charlie for the courses and the 90% of pre-entries who braved the weather.
Barry McGowan HOC (and SINS treasurer)