KNC 10 (Mole Valley) Abinger Roughs

Thu 5 Jan 2023

Preview of results & Planner's comments

Type of event: Local, Night, Score
Type of terrain: Forest

Info updated: Sun 8 Jan


Event Report

Preview of the results & Planner's comments:

This event in the “Kent” Night Cup series (KNC) was a long time in planning.

For the first time ever, I got my act together to plan one year in advance, with the vegetation growth as it would be at the time of the event. That was in March 2019.

2020 came, and just before the event was due, some mystery lurgy migrated from China, and we were put into lockdown.

By Christmas, our famously honest and far-sighted government assured us that lockdowns were a thing of the past, and so the event was definitely on for early 2021. And then Mole Valley was put into “Tier 4”.

At the beginning of 2022, lockdowns were indeed a thing of the past, and the event was scheduled for the third time. And then the National Trust started putting up fences, not just around the edge of the area, but also across the middle. No fences, no problem. Finished fences, not too much of a problem. But fences under construction, with the planner unsure where they would go, and stacks of barbed wire around? – my thanks to Jean Fitzgerald & Sarah Howes for substituting a tour of Sevenoaks at very short notice.

Four years on, I was surprised how well my original planning stood up. One of the knolls was on the line of a new fence, and no longer exists. A shallow small depression is arguably now too small to map, but I stuck with it anyway – the kite is visible, so nobody will care if the hole isn’t deep enough. I tweaked a few others, but most are unchanged.

Philip Gristwood produced the first Abinger Roughs maps for a club summer picnic in 2018. I had expected to have to update it for this event, but I found Philip had already added the new fences and made some changes to the vegetation. The precision mapping of the “white” routes through the rhododendron jungle permitted a couple of challenging controls sites – thanks Phil!

Nick commented in the write-up of the previous KNC that he’s “no fan of "funny business" i.e. odds and evens, dumbbells, stupid-whistles and suchlike”. However, Abinger Roughs is a small area, and even though I scattered controls all over it, the optimum straight-line route around all the controls was around 3.8km, less than half an hour for some. If you’ve travelled all the way from Sweden, or even Kent, you might want a bit longer. Also, I think a score event loses something if you can decide immediately that you are going to get all the controls, and don’t need to worry about time. So funny business it was!

I sometimes think that not enough consideration is given to the novice/older/slower competitors. I prefer them to be able to punch every control they come to and cover as much as possible of the competition area. Therefore, I don’t like the “odds & evens” (or more usually “90’s & 100’s”) format, as this is often forces them to go past controls without punching, and sometimes to loop half the competition area twice without venturing further.

Hence my choice of paired controls, or “dumbbells”. Crucially, the dumbbells only offered a bonus, so if you picked the shortest route to link controls without worrying about dumbbells, you could still get a decent score. If you wanted to get close to the maximum, you had to think a bit, but this is supposed to be “cunning running”.

I kept most of the dumbbells fairly short, otherwise you would have been forever running up and down the narrow pinch point in the middle of the area. With 20 controls, even the 10 dumbbells only pushed the optimum straight-line route up to around 6km, which an elite athlete having a clean run should accomplish easily. Hence my 21st control and final dumbbell, adding a 1.2km run from the far end of the area to the finish. I thought this would put a lot of pressure on the fastest runners; collecting that last bonus would mean committing to a 1.2km run at the end with the clock ticking. In fact, the likes of Tom and Nick got maximum points with plenty of time to spare – I’m impressed!

Talking of time, you may have noticed that the time on your splits is out by 4 minutes. It seems the software took the mass start time off the download of entries from racesignup, and ignored the actual start time on the night. The published results should use the correct start time.

My thanks to everyone who entered, and especially to Mark Glaisher, KNC organiser, for doing the computer work, and to Mark, Ian, Neil & Andrew for collecting controls. The weather stayed fine, even for the control collectors, making a change from the previous Mole event where heavy snow prevented some of the control collectors from getting home the same day!


Ian Ditchfield, 5th January 2023

Pre Event Info


Nearest town: Dorking

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