The JK festival of orienteering 2018 was held over Easter weekend on Cannock chase, just north of Birmingham.
A DrongO trip was organised with accommodation in the "Alpine Barn" - a small but cheap bunkhouse literally in the assembly area for days 3 and 4.
Day 1 was a sprint race in MOD Stafford. The navigation was very easy so it was basically a running race. After the race we waited around talking until 5 minutes before the prizegiving, when we decided to leave. However, the commentators announced that we should stay, so some of us did. They also called us CUOC even though everybody left was DrongO, so thanks for taking the blame CUOC. When we did leave, it started raining almost immediately, which was ideal.
Matthew and Fiona went shopping and the rest of us went to our bunkhouse, where we made a highly original meal of spaghetti bolognaise once the food arrived. We played games for the rest of the evening, and Matthew and Fiona kindly went out to the airport to collect Raphaelle and Cedric, who had flown all the way from Paris, and potential honorary DrongO-in-law Rona went to get John O from the station, who had refused a lift from Lancaster with his parents to get the train instead.
On Saturday there was a middle distance race in a nice but very hilly area. Chris (Matthew's cousin) missed a control out. Ben W made him feel better by missing one too. We spent the second part of the afternoon playing games again, including humming renditions of Uptown Funk
from Ben, Bounce from Chris, and love songs at 6.03pm with Richard. We reaslised that the door to the bunkhouse didn't have a thing which beeped if it was left open, so everybody had to scream if it was open for over 5 seconds to keep the warmth in. In the evening we had a pub meal and were joined by a few CUOCers too. Most people bought a drink before the meal, but we think we slightly bewildered the pub afterwards because everybody just drunk a lot of water. Matthew and Ben took a diversion on the way home to collect Tom D and Zuzka S from an Easter church service, arriving with precise accuracy as they walked out into the street.
Sunday's classic race had the start about 20m from our front door, with the elite men running 17.9k and the women 11.4k. The terrain was less hilly than yesterday, but tougher with branches and bracken in a lot of places. Matthew reached the spectator control a minute ahead of Ben W but his jelly babies ran out so lost time in the second half. Paul P of CUOC did well to finish in just under two hours, while cousin Chris joined the 200 club running the furthest he had ever run.
We ate a lot of food afterwards, and Matthew had quite a long nap, then directed us in making veggie chilli from his bed. The evening was again spent playing games, and of course, eating more food. Ben W was branded "apple bitch" by Rona after he discovered there were a lot of apples left, so chopped them up which led to them being consumed. Ben S admitted that he would prefer to have rubbish thrown in his face than join in with the humming game. About 5 minutes after we turned the lights off, Phil and Chris were telling cheese jokes (what cheese coaxes a bear out of a tree?) and Dan and Bára arrived - they'd been in the Peak District and Yorkshire to go walking. Dan wasn't as loud as John was expecting so John probably complained silently to himself about something else.
In the morning Dan was as John was expecting, but it was OK because everybody was awake. We then noticed it had snowed overnight, and was now raining quite a lot. Luckily by the time the relays started, it had mostly stopped, although the assembly field (not to mention the entire forest) became very muddy. DrongO had an impressive four teams - SquaDRON GOld just slipped into the top 10 in the men's while the Outer DRONGOlia and Bosnia and HerzoDRONGOvina finished joint last in an identical time (but neither mispunched). The women's team, Democratic Republic of DRONGO also finished last, but one of their runners was injured and walking.
We finished by tidying up the bunkhouse, the owners inspected it by glancing in through the door for about two seconds and saying "it looks like you cleaned", and Matthew "auctioned" off the remaining food to the quickest bidder. Dan and Bara went to Stratford Upon Avon on the way home, discovering that the merchandise had a Shakespeare related item for every interest possible - including "an exploration of Shakespeare's world through maps". Thanks to everybody who came for making it a fun weekend and hopefully see you on another trip soon!