Bert Elson (pictured) and Jan Hardy are currently in Europe on their almost annual intrepid orienteering adventure abroad. Here is an excerpt from Bert's email home recounting the French 5 Days...
It has been a great week here competing in the French 5 days Orienteering and exploring the canals and ruined castles each afternoon. Re the Orienteering - it has taken place in and around villages in the northern Vosges Mountains, events being 10 – 20 km from here each day.
Sunday was an urban sprint but we both had some controls in steep dense forest with pretty solid cliffs on the edge of town – a foretaste of things to come. That was a stand alone prologue but Jan still got a 3rd and I was about 9th out of 23 so Ok with that.
The remaining 5 days (3 long and 2 medium) were a series with accumulating times – all races counting – ie mispunch, withdraw or whatever on any race and you are out. Compared to Australian events these were longer, steeper, harder – with enormous sandstone cliffs and boulders – all covered in dense forest.
On the first long I was so whacked afterwards I just lay down outside the tent all afternoon. Anyway it was a very well run event with helpful organisers, about 1,500 competitors, excellent catering (including beer tent!!) [Editor's comment: Bert - but what were the prices and was the beer served cold or warm?] and well thought out courses.
They abandoned the planned chasing start for the last day (for reasons I can explain to orienteers some time) and instead the top 5 runners in each class went out with a special numbered bib. Jan being placed 5th after day 4 (out of 24) had the honour of having a leading 5 bib!! I was consistently around 14th each day, 13th overall after day 4 and finished 13th out of 47 so happy enough with that.
To give an idea of how tough it was we have been camped next to a lovely Englishman, Ian Gilliver who found the terrain so steep he withdrew on days 2 and 4 and drove home to Manchester today rather than tackling the near vertical hillsides and cliffs of day 5.
... Anyway we are both well and hope this finds you all likewise. Heading East tomorrow (Sunday) via Germany, Austria, Hungary and then to Romania arriving Cluj Napoka next Thursday for the Transylvania Cup – a 4 day, 5 event carnival. Much smaller than O France – only a few hundred competitors – I am one of 9 so am certainly planning on a top ten finish!!