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Race 5 - Warwick Town Race

Sunday 10 October saw the UK Cities Cup series hit historic Warwick for the penultimate race before the series draws to a close with the Oxford city race in just over a months time.

Competitors faced a course of contrasts. From the opening and closing forays into pits, knolls and depressions, to the streets, alleys and passageways of Warwick which interlinked the mixed parkland to the north, Warwick Castle to the south and a final push for home through gardens, crazy golf and playing fields to the finish. The change of terrain was not the only challenge, a wide variety of leg lengths were used and the courses changed direction multiple times. With these middle distance courses cramming in a large number of controls, concentration in the heat of the race was a must, particularly around the control circle. Those who failed to read their descriptions accurately were punished by finding themselves the wrong side of a wall or fence, or more damagingly, searching atop a castle wall or turret only to discover the control was 40 feet below them.

The planner, Iain Embrey of Warwick University, was meticulous in his planning with the long legs that looked straightforward often proving to have a sting in their tail for those daring to switch off, while the short sharp legs around the castle would cause trouble for competitors whether they were walking or sprinting.

It was the butterfly loops around the castle, based around a common control in the (dry) castle moat, where the costly mistakes, or careful reading of detail, that decided the podium places occurred.

In the men's race it was control number 25 (120), the last control on the first butterfly, that completely changed the race. At number 24 it was Rune Nygaard Monrad, a Dane currently studying in Oxford, who was leading the race from John Rocke, with eventual winner Dan Halliday of OD a minute behind. Unfortunately for the Dane, and several others in the race, he headed up onto the castle wall in the hunt for the control. This involved getting up tight spiral staircases complete with tourists, before discovering that the control was actually at the bottom of the wall, on the outside of the castle (see map extract), losing at least 3 minutes.

A similar fate befell both Anne Edwards and Jo Halliday (of Oxford University and OD respectively) who were in fourth equal on the women's course when they made a similar mistake at this control, with Silvie Hojna of HOC in third also losing time, dropping to eighth. Anne suffered the most though, she spent six minutes running up and down the steep staircases before escaping the castle, dropping out of the top ten in the process.

John Rocke of Sheffield University, who had been in 2nd place, 20 seconds behind Rune, also suffered from a rush of blood to the head and failed to notice the instruction to turn over the map after the first butterfly, instead returning to the finish undoubtedly confused as to the strange way to finish the race.

The remaining two butterfly loops on the men's race didn't cause anywhere near as many problems as the first, the underground passage (or cave) presenting the only major potential trap if the wrong entrance was chosen. After these loops were complete it was one final climb out of the moat before a quick succession of controls around the park and the assembly area before reaching the finish.

So in the end it was Dan Halliday who won the 7.1km men's course at the 5th UK Cities Cup Race in a time of 43:48, 2 minutes clear of Andy Preston of South Yorkshire, who in turn was 30 seconds clear of Roger Thetford of Thames Valley. Dan, who caught Andy at number 18 and raced with him for the rest of the course, said he had a decent enough run, adding that it "wasn't the sort of course you could be completely clean around".

On the women's course it was Laura Daniel of South Yorkshire who was victorious in a time of 38:19 for the 5.3km course, a couple of places better than her 3rd place result in Lincoln and over a minute clear of Alison Crocker of Oxford University. 3rd place went to race 3 victor, Mairead Rocke from Leicestershire Orienteering Club.

The Warwick race certainly proved that urban orienteering can level the playing field somewhat, with Jane Halliday in 4th on the women's open, and top W45 (beating daughter Jo in the progress) while there was also another W40, two W16's and a W14 all in the top 10. In then men's race it Roger Thetford in 3rd who was top M45, with Steve Watkins of Airenteers who was top M35 also in the top 10, surrounded by M16s and 18s.

Full reaction and views about the race here

Full race results here

Overall series standings here

with photos here (nopesport), here and here.

Get your entry in for the series finale in Oxford on 1oth November. Full details including entry details can be found here


2007 Race Series