Chasers on tour – Easter 4 ‘ in sLOVEnia 2017

This Easter Neil and I joined Cath, Mark and Holly at the ‘ Easter 4 ‘ in sLOVEnia. It was our first time running abroad, and we were very grateful for the many hints, tips and words of encouragement from those of you who feared we might never return from wandering hopelessly in some sLOVEnian forest.

The four days of orienteering were in the south west of the country, a distinctive area of limestone karst. The first evening was in Koper, a coastal walled town, and I ran my first sprint race. Anything with the word ‘sprint’ in it is not my cup of tea, and I was lazily feeling more enthusiastic about later events that said the terrain would make running pretty difficult. Nevertheless the atmosphere in the square and the enthusiasm of our fellow Chasers swept me along, and I shot off into the town. I was pleasantly surprised to find kites just about where I expected, and soon realised I wasn’t supposed to be hanging around and should infact be ‘sprinting’. Results were streamed live on TV and the festive and international atmosphere (including a hen party) continued.

  

Next day we woke to Torrential rain, thunder and lightning and we based ourselves in our chasers yellow, black and white car. Cath accurately described the map as being made of ‘spaghetti hoops’ and recommended compass work and keeping very close contact with the map. The deep sink holes and piles of rock initially seemed to make sense with the good map, but when I started to steam up and lost concentration, it was impossible to work out which was what and where. Once finished, we drove straight home and turned our apartment into a sauna in an attempt to dry our kit.

Next day we returned to the same place transformed in bright Easter sunshine. It was ‘spaghetti hoops’ again, amongst pretty beech trees, and again careful checking off and concentration was essential. The atmosphere was fun again with lots of international groups and we were served pancakes and real coffee. Just as the last of us finished, The heavens suddenly opened and we were treated to another torrential Thunderstorm. Our plan of a relaxed coffee in a sunny square was hurriedly changed to coffee and strudel by a roaring fire. Later we all met up for a fun pub meal debrief.

The Last day was further north on a pretty limestone plateau where we ran through carpets of orchids. I found this more confusing, and when I lost myself only feet from my control I was unable to work out why I was surrounded by rocky features when my map was only marked in brown features. Mark explained later that on some foreign maps only vertical rocks greater than 1m are marked black. We’ll never mind, I made it back and it turns out surprisingly that all the chasers were top Brits in their age class!
It was a great new experience – challenging but relaxed orienteering in a lovely area and great company. We also had an opportunity to sightsee for e.g spectacular limestone caves and pretty medieval and Venetian villages.
Thanks to Cath and Mark for looking after us and Holly for keeping me cheerful with her enthusiasm and helpful tips.
Where next ??!!

Mary

Stodge has a number of blog posts which show the maps – see here for day1,  day2,   day 3,   day4

 

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