When the area for Day 1 was changed to Gwanas near Dolgellau, it seemed that everyone except me knew the area very well. Over the next few months that was to change. I had the option to use the whole of the Gwanas /Tyddyn Du map but quickly decided to concentrate on the Gwanas area to keep the logistics of control seeking/putting out/collecting as simple as possible. I had also been told that the Gwanas landowner, Geraint Evans, was very helpful and so he proved to be.
At first the great number of courses seemed a little overwhelming. But following advice from the resident controller (my husband Mark), I first looked at the White and Yellow courses (Courses 24 and 23) and then worked on M21L (Course 1). Gradually I created the rest of the courses working towards the middle numbers ie Course 2 then Course 22, Course 3 then Course 21. It seemed to work well.
The area east of the Start is exposed Welsh hillside rising to over 2000ft and I needed to keep the youngest competitors on Course 24 in the fields and off that hill in case of bad weather. But to get enough length for Course 23 I took these young runners around the edge of the big plantation before returning to the lower fields. For the longest courses I wanted to use the highest part of the hill but soon found myself in difficulties in getting the correct height/length ratio, so only Courses 1 and 2 went very high. The next problem was to achieve the right combination of technical difficulty and climb for the oldest runners and although the height/length ratio was correct and I tried to eliminate steep climbs and descents, the rough going led to long times for Course 18.
The next task was to find the control sites on the ground and the first visit to Gwanas was conducted in thick mist with a cold wind. Subsequent visits were a little less stressful as the Controller later recorded the control site locations on GPS. Having drafted initial courses, the Technical Director (bless his heart) ran his course on a chilly winter’s day and recommended that all the courses needed to be increased in length by 10%. More seriously, it was decided that the area should be remapped.
So I was back to the drawing board and the computer. It actually turned out to be easier than I had thought as several courses could just be relabelled. Course 1 ended up with 3 ‘boxes’ and the other long courses had at least one ‘box’ of combinations of existing controls to get the length needed. I tried hard to get legs of different lengths and clear changes of direction, whilst trying to avoid the dreaded dog leg. At the suggestion of the Controller, I made much use of the steep fields on the north west part of the map to keep the tired runners thinking. Crossing points were clearly marked on the map but the north west crossing point was so well marked, that it drew several runners over it when they should have gone through the wooden gate in the wall corner (this gate is quite clear on the map). Those runners who unnecessarily climbed the big stone wall in that area should be grateful that they did not damage the wall and the good relationship we had with the farmer. As for the runners who crawled UNDER the wall through the sheep tunnel ………..
I have now seen Gwanas in all sorts of weather from Welsh winter foulness to brilliant sunny freshness and the views can be stupendous. I have had lots of fun planning the courses and the new map is great – thank you Malcolm. I really enjoyed working with the excellent Day 1 team especially Mair Tomas and Sue Norris (organisers), and I am immensely grateful for all the work both before and during the event. I want give a special word of thanks to the stile builders and control collectors. At the end of Day 1, our car was the last to leave the sunny, wind blown Assembly area, with only the toilets and white marquee standing guard over the field. We passed Geraint the farmer at the animal sheds and thanked the man without whom the whole Day could not have taken place.
Katy Dyer (BOK)