Sarum Takes Its New Year’s Day Event to a Brand New Area
It’s a rare pleasure when Sarum is able to launch a brand new orienteering map so a first event on Martin Down was a special way of celebrating the start of a new decade. Competitors must have been wondering what was in store as they drove the last few hundred metres from Martin village up what seemed to be a previously unmapped river. Although the parking was rather muddy and boggy the area as a whole was much less waterlogged than much of the New Forest is at the moment.
Martin Down is 350 hectares of unspoiled chalk downland where flowers and insects flourish and rare birds sing. The insects are attracted to the ancient sweeping grasslands that have dozens of different species of wildflower.
Birdsong comes from cuckoos, yellowhammers, skylarks and even turtle doves. Although the landscape is not dramatic –a gentle rising vista of open meadows, scrub and ancient hedges -it feels ancient. The great Bokerley Ditch runs along the western side while mysterious mounds and dells hint that this was once a populated area in forgotten ages. This vast dyke snake, defining the Dorset/Hampshire border was perhaps built as a boundary in the Iron Age but fortified in the 5th or 6th centuries AD against invading Saxons. There is also a huge sculptured mound within Martin Down at the northern end but this is no burial or fort – it was part of a Second World War rifle range.
Mark White, who mapped Martin Down during the past year, also planned the New Year’s Day Score event. The format was of a straight Score with controls of different values and the added fun of a roving Santa and his Elf, courtesy of Ricky and Duncan. The lure of a new area attracted some 144 runners, including a number of family groups, most of whom were able to make good use of a break in the rain to explore the downs and thickets in relatively amenable conditions.
Six runners managed to score 540 points with Adam Conway (GO) achieving this in an impressive time of 45.56 ahead of Roger Thetford (TVOC; 49.57) and Jolyon Medlock (WSX: 55.37). Ed Halsey (520; 53.35; 9th place) was the best placed Sarum runner with Chris Huthwaite (500; 51.07) and Simon Tarrant (500; 56.08) in 12th and 13th places respectively. There was a big turn out of Sarum Juniors and their families. It was nice to be able to show to Phil Conway (GO), who helped us set up our after school training, that all that hard work has paid off.
Thanks to Mark for planning, Pat for organising and, as usual, there was great support from Sarum’s volunteers who helped deliver a successful event, so thanks to everyone who chipped in on the day.
Full results can be found here.
Sarum’s next event is on Saturday 8th Feb. at Denny Wood, with a 4 course day event and a Wessex Night League event after dark..