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Cross Country Skiing 2020

23-Feb-20

In February DrongO went for their second cross country skiing trip to Czech Republic. Most people arrived on Friday night, except for Rowan and Jeremy who were enjoying the time between university and having a job, and therefore went early for some surprisingly warm sunbathing before heading to the snowy mountains. We caught a bus from Černý Most but were there an hour early, so we went in search of the Black Bridge which the station was named after. We didn't find the bridge, but we found a large shopping centre rated 4-star by Belinda from Southport, and a playground with trampolines.

On Saturday we walked a few miles to a ski hire place, then set off for a day of skiing. Mark and Blanka and their kids also arrived, although they didn't join us for the skiing today. We got straight in there at lunch with blueberry dumpings, although Dan's attempted efficiency at going ahead and buying them in advance didn't really speed us up in the end. In the evening Ben and Zuzka went to the local village theatre which was a Czech fairy tale where, not one, but three couples lived happily ever after. Presumably everybody else stayed at the accommodaiton and drunk beer or ginger tea.

Sunday was another day out along a different route. Jeremy had two meals for lunch: duck and blueberry dumpings. Some others were jealous of the duck which looked very good. Zuzka's dad Dan joined for a bit and did some helpful coaching, but some people still fell into a ditch, and everybody had their highlight of the week when Zuzka fell over. Ben W's foot was hurting so he hired a bike with massive tyres and cycled on the snow. In the evening we had probably the best DrongO singalong so far, lasting about 3 hours with piano and guitar, and all range of songs including an excellent rendition of Do TrailO.

The outing on Monday started with a long uphill which everybody liked, because it was difficul to fall over. Surprisingly this was followed by a down, which people liked less. It was the same place for lunch, but sadly the duck wasn't on offer today. In the evening Ben W, Zuzka, Helen O, Miranda and Jeremy went downhill skiing on a floodlit piste. It was Helen and Miranda's first time and coach Zuzka did a good job of getting them started! Unfortunately it wasn't quite good enough, since when the slope closed at the end of the evening they were at the top, and ended up being chased down the slope in the dark by a massive snowplough.

The next morning the main group did a trip out to Jizerka, while Ben W and Jeremy made use of still having skis from last night to do some more downhill before driving to meet the others. We had lunch in a very small place with the entire ceiling covered in bells. They served HUGE blueberry dumpings, and also had a cat, which was eating the paper straws on top of the bar. We left Jeremy there and brough Miranda, Richard, and Ben S back in the car since they had to catch a bus back to the airport.

Ben, Zuzka and Mark worked from "home" on Wednesday, Blanka and the kids went for a short outing nearby, and Jeremy, Rowan and Helen O went skiing. It snowed all day! Zuzka was unhappy that the internet was too slow to download a 4GB file. In the evening we drove for an hour round trip to a downhill ski slope which was open, but had no ski hire place so we would have had to go up on the lift and then walk down, which didn't sound like fun. However,we did have fun sledging down the road outside the accommodation instead. In the evening we played games and Zuzka recognised a photo of Helen because it "looked exactly in the photo with the snake".

Thursday was the last chance for getting out in the fresh snow for Jeremy, Rowan and Helen before they flew home that afternoon/evening. Ben W also joined them on the bus to Prague and went to a Prague pub for a couple of hours before the flight. In the evening Ben and Zuzka did one of their wedding presents - a meal in the Prague TV tower. It was very posh and one cocktail was included. However, they decided they would branch out and also order a bottle of watch, which turned out to cost about 6 pounds!

Blanka, Mark and the kids stayed until the weekend, and Ben and Zuzka returned to the mountains on Friday lunchtime along with Dan and Bara, who were also "working" and working respectively.

On Sunday it rained all day and Dan, Bara and two of their friends who had also joined drove to some higher mountains where they did find some snow. Ben, Zuzka and two of their friends who had also joined went for a slushy walk. We all drove back to Prague in the evening and had an exciting moment when we realised the two cars were in the same traffic jam (due to a fallen tree, it was windy!) and that we could easily hand Dan's bag back to him which he had left behind!

And so came the end of another fun trip, just in time before travel started being restricted! Look out for next year, or perhaps there will be some more downhill fun!

Madeira DrongO "Honeymoon"

21-Jan-20

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Results Day 1 | Results Day 2 | Results Day 3

A large DrongO trip, peaking at 15 people, headed out to Madeira for Ben and Zuzka's wedding present, a week-long "DrongO Honeymoon". Most people arrived on Saturday evening and we went to our accommodation, a large and rather nice building with a view over the sea in one direction, a view over a go-kart track in the other, and a massive bear-rug in the cupboard. We went out for dinner because noone could be bothered to cook to food we hadn't been shopping for. Jeremy had stupidly arrived a day too early but was able to recommend the Espada fish with fried bananas.

On Sunday we walked out to the tip of the peninsula on the eastern end of the island. It was very volcanic, and we found a good swimming/jumping in spot, and Dan didn't have any swimming clothes so he didn't wear any. Monday started off as a short walking day and morphed into a long walking day - Ben and John walked back to the cars to pick up the rest of the group, but they then decided to carry on and walk all the way back home! Meanwhile James had arrived and was running our walking route, gradually catching up.

Tuesday was supposedly good weather so we drove up to 1800m altitude for a walk to the highest point. Instead, it was misty, windy, and raining quite a lot. However, the path was very exciting with tunnels, arches and parts carved into vertical cliff faces. It was topped off with some amazing Brocken Spectres at the summit or Pico Ruivo. We warmed up with some very good hot chocolate in the cafe back in the car park and went back to cook in the evening.

Wednesday turned out to be absolutely beautiful weather, although we were also moving accommodation. So we packed up and drove up to Encumeada and Phil was slow because Google maps didn't have a 2-year-old tunnel on it yet. We set off walking and learning the lyrics to "Do TrailO" made the climb seem smaller. After lunch, where Phil had an arousing encounter with a stick, Ben and Phil went off on a power walk to Pico Ruivo from a second direction (this time with perfect views), chased by James who had come later after going go-karting with Jeremy, and picking Natalie up from the airport. The rest of the group continued to Pico Grande in a circular walk. Most of us finished just after dark, and Ben and Phil didn't quite manage to catch up with the walking group again after their diversion. In the evening we arrived at our new accommodation which had a heated swimming pool and a bar, and a view over a nicely lit motorway bridge. Jeremy got many plus points for his accommodation booking skills.

On Thursday we went for a walk to the "25 Fontes". We named three of then Arial, Helvetica and Comic Sans, but then got bored of thinking up font names. We eventually arrived at the 25 Fontes, which turned out to be one waterfall and not 25. John managed to go for a quick dip in the pool below it as the group left, hoping to run to catch up to warm back up. However, he caught us very soon as we were having races with objects floating in the lavada parallel to the path. Unfortunately the path short-cutted the lavada by about 800m. After some pacing and maths, we ascertained that Richard's guess of 0.5m/s water speed was rather correct. Next we drove down to the north coast for a swim in some "natural" pools at Porto Moniz before heading home.

On Friday morning Miranda wasn't feeling so good, and it took a few hours to realise it was food poisoning and not a hangover. We went on a car trip to a viewing point which was 600m almost vertically above the sea. After dropping some people back to rest at the accommodation, some of us went back to the hills for another walk up Pico de Serradinho which also had excellent views. In the evening there was a night sprint orienteering race in Funchal, which was interesting to see the city but not that difficult navigationally. James ran fast to win men's elite.

Saturday was another orienteering day in the afternoon, but in the morning some of we drove up to Pico do Ariero again in the sunshine above the clouds, and did a (relatively) short walk along the ridge to Pico do Cedro, during which John successfully scared Helen and Bara by diving out of some very thick bushes as they passed. The orienteering was much nicer than the map made it look, with various types of forest involved. In the women's Rona came 2nd and Zuzka 3rd, and Paul just missed out on a 3rd place by 4 seconds. Phil somehow mispunched on a loop control which he had already been to! Harriet managed to get her photo in the organisers' report! In the evening, Ben and Zuzka got sent to a restaurant for a honeymoon meal, and were forbidden from inviting any more DrongOs to come. When they returned sometime after 11pm, Ben predicted that at least one person would have gone to bed, but was wrong as many people were dancing and a last night/second last night party appeared to have formed, since James and Richard were leaving the next morning. James, Natalie and Jeremy, who all appeared to be winning the party, all managed to fit onto the shelves behind the bar.

Sunday was our last full day and at 6am James went back on his word 3 hours before that he would get up and go for a sunrise run. The rest of us headed off to the third orienteering race in another very steep, but generally quite runnable, forest. Again Rona came 2nd and Zuzka came 3rd in the womens, with Paul 2nd and Phil 3rd in the men's. Overall, Zuzka and Natalie got on the podium with 2nd and 3rd, with Paul 2nd overall in the men's. After the orienteering we did a lot of driving, and also some activities. First we climbed the highest point, Pico Ruivo, from the third direction, allowing most people to get a sunny view from it at last! Next we split into two groups with one group going to some caves, and one group going swimming in some different natural pools at nicely named Seixal. While it was sunny at the peak, it appeared to be raining on the whole north side of the island, so it was a rather wet swim, which of course didn't matter because swimming is wet anyway. In the evening we had tricolore spaghetti, which Ben and Paul decided should be cooked and served as three separate colours, and therefore with the help of Phil and Rona separated a kilo of tricolore spaghetti into its three constituent colours.

On Monday we packed up and went for a mooch around Funchal centre, had very very large 2-euro ice creams for the second time, and headed back to the airport.

Thanks from Ben and Zuzka to everyone to contributed to this trip, it was a really really amazing "honeymoon"!

DrongO new decade

06-Jan-20

Some DrongOs went to the Isle of Wight to celebrate the arrival of the new decade (or end of 2019). A few were lucky enough to arrive on the hovercraft thanks to some Hovertravel appreciation vouchers provided by Zuzka's parents. Richard made a delicious cheese fondu dinner and we played board games for several hours. Sometime before midnight we headed to the beach and built a fire. We cooked bread dough and had an excellent view of the mainland fireworks at midnight. Some silly people went for a swim in the sea which was very cold.

After a lazy morning we headed out for a new year walk which included visiting a windmill. After walking to Shanklin we took the train back to Ryde. Tom was very excited by the antique train carriages. Everyone else was less impressed by the suspension and smoothness of the ryde. Jeremy, not realising that New Year happens on the boundary between 31st December the previous year and 1st January the following year, arrived in the evening hovercraft and we walked back to the flat. Walking back from Ryde all Jeremy could think about was visiting the pub, which turned out to be closed when we walked past it anyway.

For the following two days, some people stayed in the flat to do some "work". This was made more interesting by running/cycling and unplumbing a dishwasher. The others visited parts of the island including the zoo.

Jeremy, not realising that the weekend is the most fun part of the week, left again on Saturday morning, while we went orienteering on Ventnor Down (the VM area). The map colours had been fixed but the gate symbols messed up. In the afternoon we walked along the downs to the Needles, got the bus back to the car and then went to the pub.

No garlic farms were visited in any way during this trip, as it should be.

DrongO HQ warming

16-Dec-19

Matthew moved to London (abandoning Scafell) and into a flat with Fiona, Ben and Zuzka. Unfortunately the heating wasn't working very well and they decided to heat it up by inviting over their DrongO friends.

Matthew had planned a bearings exercise in Hyde park and a streetO course near Lancaster Gate. Visiting the controls allowed runners to take in the sights of the Paddington bear statue, Harrods car park and the Czech embassy. Warm runners brought the temperature of the flat to a toasty state.

The temperature of the flat was increased further by cooking an enormous amount of food to feed the runners. We were treated to the traditional veggie-chilli but with rice, toast potatoes and pigs in blankets.

Training Tour

15-Dec-19

Tom, Paul and Jeremy headed to the Gower to join CUOC for this year's training tour. The highlights included some tough night training on Broughton Burrow, improvised flaming of a Christmas pudding with vodka, and Tom singing his Sinterklass poem, which was a TrailO parody of Let It Go. A CUOC website report was written for each day, although using a different numbering system for each report for reasons only known to the CUOC captain.

On Friday Tom disappeared off to a super fun TrailO convention in Birmingham. Everyone else went to the Tour Champs on Blakeney Hill, where they met Ben, who stupidly arrived a week late, and Zuzka, who had been working. This was a very fast forest area with a few contours, which made a nice change from Cambridge. Paul and the CUOCers then headed back to the North, whilst Ben, Zuzka and Jeremy headed to Goodrich Castle to wait for it to get dark, so they could go to a 60 minute night score event at Woodchester in the north Cotswolds. Unfortunately, despite having planned to do this night event well before they packed, no one had remembered to bring a headtorch. Thankfully Jeremy had realised this, so gratefully borrowed Tom’s headtorch as his TrailO conference was not exciting enough to need it, whilst Ben and Zuzka decided to run the course as a pair using Jeremy’s handheld bike light and Ben’s rubbish emergency back up torch. The score was in some slippy woodlands, which was fun in the dark. It was also very cold, but thankfully there was free mulled wine at the finish left over from the NGOC Christmas party, so everyone agreed this was the best event they had ever been to, especially Ben who was driving.

The DRONGOs then went to Jeremy’s parents house for the night, as it was halfway between the Cotswolds and Leceistershire. This was useful, as an event was being held at Cademan in Leicestershire on Sunday morning. All three DRONGOs ran the 5.6km brown, and all three DRONGOs made mistakes early on, with Zuzka mispunching the first control, Jeremy attempting to go straight on leg 4 and spending 10 minutes fighting his way through chest high spiky plants and a swamp, and Ben inventing his own number system and going from control 8 to 9 via 19. Despite this Ben still came 3rd. Ben’s parents provided an excellent post race lunch, before the surviving DRONGOs headed to the DRONGO HQ to prepare for the upcoming housewarming party.

Rome City Race

04-Nov-19

Photos by Ben Stevens

At the start of November quite a small DrongO trip, consisting of Ben W, Ben S and Harriet B, went to the Rome City Race, which is a race in the city of Rome. There were actually three races, the first one being a night mass start in a park in Rome's suburbs. Ben W came in joint second, getting caught on the run in after thinking he was safely ahead. Ben S had a flying start to the race, but then went round the wrong butterfly loop first and was left behind. Harriet's dibber was blue which meant it had space for all the controls in it, and she was pleased with her pace of 6:64/km. We then went back into the city centre and spent the evening looking at old illuminated things, including the Colosseum which Harriet thought was "big with lots of holes in it".

On Saturday we got the train out of Rome, then an event bus, to an area of ancient tombs and rocks. The courses alternated between quite technical orienteering in the rocks, and very fast path runs between them. Ben W finished 9th having lost 4 minutes to the M40 winner, Allesio Tenani, with Ben S just behind in 10th. Harriet's dibber was blue and she was pleased with her pace of 6:64/km. After the race we got the bus back to the station, then walked about 6km to go to the sea. It wasn't as cold as it looked, and once some small Italian children had given up on shouting "shark" at us, we all swam for at least one second, and Ben S stayed in for several minutes. Next we went to a beach cafe where Ben W ended up paying 9 euros for a "non-alcoholic cocktail" (i.e. fruit juice), while Harriet's tea was only 2 euros. Ben S decided to go for another swim because he wasn't shivering enough. We then caught a bus back to the station which we thought wasn't going to turn up, but then it did, making it the best bus journey of Harriet's life. In the evening we went to look at more old illuminated things and seethed at people who didn't press the pedestrian button while waiting to cross the road.

Sunday was the main city centre race, although it wasn't very technical and was mostly just about running. Ben W came in 2nd only 5 seconds behind the winner, with Ben S in 12th. Harriet's feet were pretty much made of blister by this point, but she was nevertheless pleased with her pace of 6:64/km. Once we'd finished we had a quick look around a park whilst waiting for the prizegiving, because Ben W had come 4th overall. Then we went back to the accommodation for a shower. Harriet encountered her worst part of the trip when the shower was cold for her, even though the two Bens enjoyed nice hot showers straight afterwards. Next we went back to see more things - entry to everything was free because it was the first Sunday of the month! We went for a tour of the Colosseum, which we just made the start of, having run a whole 50m from the ticket office. We then wandered a bit more and went to a castle, and it started thunderstorming. Ben S very enthusiastically continued and kept taking photos of all the sights, while Ben W and Harriet ran between sheltered bits of the castle. After this we had possibly our 5th pizza of the trip (we lived on pizza, pasta and ice cream basically, as you should in Italy), and then went back for a slightly earlier night before morning flights (and the train for Ben S).

Some other things happened in Autumn 2019

01-Oct-19

Since the DrongO Captain wasn't at any of these things, he doesn't really know anything interesting that happened at them, so here are some reports. If you were at any of them, please send me something :)

British Sprint+Middle

Some DrongO people went to these races. On Saturday they sprant, and on Sunday they middled. There were some results for the sprint and also some results for the middle. Everybody had a lovely time in the Midlands.

London City Race

Some DrongO people went to the London City Race, which clashed with the MMM. The raced around a city called London. Perhaps they had beast pizza afterwards or perhaps they didn't.

Cambridge City Race

CUOC organised the Cambridge City Race, which was very successful. Some DrongO people were there running around a city called Cambridge, and also helping our student club with running the event.

Mourne Mountain Marathon

23-Sep-19

There was a large DrongO turnout at the MMM this year with some choosing it over the much closer London City Race. Ben's plane was delayed so Matthew and John watched lots of other planes whilst waiting for it to arrive. Once again the Pružina family kindly provided overnight accommodation.

The next morning everyone travelled to Newcastle and after a fairly lax kit-check headed for the start. John and Richard set off and were going well. After about an hour, disaster struck with the front of Richard's shoe starting to come apart. It quickly became apparent they had nothing to prevent further disintegration. They continued round the rest of the course but at a walking speed

Paul and Phil dropped down to the one-day score course which they proceeded to win. This prompted questions as to whether Paul was really injured

At the campsite the organisers were able to provide shoe mending materials. Richard's shoes were reassembled but still didn't have much grip

The second day started with heavy showers of rain, and many chose to don their waterproofs to mark up their maps. The next few hours were misty and showery but the weather improved during the day and was dry as we were finishing.

Ben and Matthew were second on the elite course.
Helen and Heather were first female pair on the B course
Everyone else managed to finish and received the classic T-Shirt and car sticker

An amusing account of the weekend can be seen in the following videos:

Raphaelle and Cedric's Wedding

31-Aug-19

A small DrongO group of Ben W, Zuzka S, Dan S and Bara Z were at the wedding of Raphaëlle and Cédric, which was held on 31st August 2019 near Courville-sur-Eure, a village about an hour from Paris. Having seen from Ben and Zuzka how great it was to have your wedding in a place where animals used to live, they went for a very nicely refurbished sheepfold. DrongO could of course be relied on to find suitable accommodation nearby - there was a campsite in the village which was ideal, so the DrongOs assembled there on Saturday before the wedding. It was very hot, much too hot to wear a suit, so Ben and Dan delayed getting fully dressed for as long as possible before reaching the wedding. The ceremony was a series of very nice speeches by friends and family, and then there was a very long and very delicious meal (you can rely on French cooking to be excellent), and then dancing!

Scottish 6 Days 2019

31-Jul-19

Results

Various DrongOs made it to the Scottish 6 days, held around Perth. People who entered under the correct club were Ben S, James H, John O, Jasmine G, Ben W and Zuzka S. Overall results for those who actually came to all the days were Ben S 13th and John O 19th in M21E, and Jasmine 14th on W21L. Ben and Zuzka came with bikes for the second part of the week and cycled between the races with tents, while the others stayed on the event campsite and drove/got lifts/buses. It didn't rain very much, which was dry. The author can't really remember what else happened since it was 6 months ago now.

Archive News

For older news items, see the archive news page.