Perse student represents UK in orienteering competition
Year 11 student, Tim Harrison was recently selected to represent the UK at the World Schools Orienteering Championships in Turkey. he has written a fantastic account of his experiences – we hope you enjoy reading.
“Due to a strong performance at last year’s British Schools Orienteering Championships I was selected to be a member of the M1 (senior boys) select team at the ISF World Schools Orienteering Championships in Antalya on the south coast of Turkey.
After travelling by rail the previous night, I met the rest of the England team in Terminal 1 of Manchester Airport where we discovered, to our irritation, that we had a three hour delay. This meant that we missed our connecting flight to Istanbul and ultimately that we did not arrive at our hotel in Tekirova until 3 a.m. on the morning of the training event. Despite this our coaches still decided that it was best to book us onto the earliest buses to the training event, meaning that we would have to be down at breakfast by 7 a.m. (which did not please many!).
The training area, Phaselis, was right on the coast and was the site of an ancient Roman aqueduct. It was selected to be very similar to both the middle and the long areas, but what stood out most as similar to the other areas were the incredibly rocky slopes. That afternoon, the opening ceremony was held in a large open air theatre in the town, which followed a parade by the participating countries through the town. Speeches welcoming the participants were interspersed with performances of Turkish dance and drumming, but what was probably interesting to most is that the ISF anthem is the same as the theme tune from Space Odyssey.
Monday was our first competition day; we were to be competing in the long distance competition in a coastal yet hilly area next to a motorway. Before our starts we were placed in a quarantine zone, where no outside contact is allowed. I was fortunate to only be in quarantine for two hours whereas some others were in the area for almost five hours. Once on the course I soon found myself settling into a routine and realised it was normally quicker to go around rather than through the undergrowth which easily turned into unmarked, disorientating thickets. However on our first long leg, five to six, I ignored my advice not seeing the longer path route, instead deciding to run over a spur that cut up a re-entrant on the far side of the valley on to a saddle before dropping down onto the control from above. However due to the thick undergrowth, I picked up the wrong re-entrant which seemed to lead me to an area with near identical features to the valley that I wanted. By the time I had realised my error and rectified it I had lost eight minutes. The rest of the course passed without incident but I was incredibly slow due to a lack of fitness caused by an injury in the UK.
The rest of the day and the following were set aside for rest and most athletes seemed to take this to heart, spending their time lounging by the pool. The one exception was the cultural evening which involved cultural performances by each country (morris dancing by the English) and a stall with orienteering maps from the country and traditional food and drink.
Wednesday was our second and final competition day, it was to be the middle event – a shorter, more technical course which apparently suits the British style of orienteering more. After my previous performance I was determined to improve. Unlike the long leg, I had no major errors but I did make a few minor ones, such as stopping 50m too short for control two and losing 30 seconds searching for it, and accidentally going to control 10 before nine, which at the top of a large hill, whereas eight and nine were both at the bottom. Despite these shortcomings my run was still far better, placing me individually in 44th and as a team of five in 11th place.
Thursday morning brought our last run of the trip, a friendship relay in the neighbouring town of Keimar. For this event we were divided into teams of three and had to collect all 60 or 70 controls in the shortest possible time. All three team members had to visit three of these controls at the same time in addition to the finish. My team came 25th – only seven minutes behind the leader despite an unequal division of labour where I collected the furthest controls despite having a faster runner on my team. Thursday afternoon saw the final prize-giving and the closing ceremony, in which I was lucky enough to be chosen to wave the flag of St George.
I would like to finish by thanking EAOA, SUFFOC and everyone who contributed to my costs. I would thoroughly recommend the event to any athletes considering attempting to gain a place as it is both incredibly worthwhile and enjoyable.”