Cato Ridge – 21 May 2000

By Mike Hartley

So I hadn’t done it for a hell of a long time, but in a moment of weakness, I agreed to do it again. You would think that, at my age, I would know better! The lst time I went to a Championship was in the Argentine back in 19whatsit and I hadn’t set a course for some time even then. Anyway, I said I would do it so I was kind of stuck.

I had to go and buy maps and borrow protractors etc, but eventually I sat down and worked out a couple of routes. With the aid of Trevor Holroyd we flew the two courses in a push-pull and I took the photos from the back seat while XXX navigated, which seemed to be OK. So I then had to drive the route to check the navigation.

Some of it was good, but some was not, so many of the photos had to be thrown out. Some of it I was unable to check at first go due to running out of daylight, so I had to drive those areas again. All of which I am telling you competitors so that you know how much effort goes into the event long before you get round to arriving at the start. But it is a pleasure, so don’t feel bad about it!

I was somewhat out of touch with the state of today’s computer programs and carefully worked out the GPS location of all the check points, only to find out that this was quite unnecessary. Given the location of the start, course and distance is all the computer needs to know to work out everything else — which it does in about ten minutes flat. Ah well, we live and learn — and marvel at the things that Deon van den Berg and Jan Hanekom can do in a few minutes — printed and all! I also learnt that you can use GPS to find your way around on the ground as this was the only way I could direct one of the marshal’s to his check point. So one of my calculations of lat and long had some use after all.

Friday saw a cold front whip through the country so quite a few guys were unable to get through to Cato Ridge which was a shame. It reduced the numbers from thirteen to nine but did nothing to reduce the competitive spirit that was building up. The practice course was towards the hills around Greytown and these were misted over for much of the morning. But quite a few people were able to do the route, to their advantage.

But Saturday was a different kettle of fish. Not a cloud in the sky and vis unlimited! No one can say that we in KZN do not know how to look after our visitors. Perhaps because I was newly back at the game, a few of the locals were fooled by a slightly different location for the start, but things were soon under way. The course took everyone south towards Richmond and then north again towards the Umgeni valley. Spectacular scenery by any standards — but no time to dwell on its beauty , though a few competitors did remark on it. We are very lucky to live in this part of the world and, yes, the Valley of a Thousand Hills is most beautiful. Bad luck, you oucs from up there.

No one got lost in the Lion Park or downed in the Valley and all seemed to get around the track (although I must say that the guys from the far north did rock up from a funny direction). Well done to you all. The funny thing was that I had complaints about the vast quantity of ground clues available! Some people prefer flying from nothing to nothing, but you can bet that when they get to Sweden they will have hundreds of navigation features for every mile they fly.

Well, finally the sun set in the west, the beer came out from the behind the bar and our computer whizzes finished their work. After a couple of drinks to boost the morale and (for some) to drown the sorrows, the results were published and they went like this:

  • 4th Mary De Klerk 255 points
  • 3rd Jan Hanekom 242 points
  • 2nd Hans Schwebel 238 points
  • 1st Barry de Groot. 209 points

So we had to give his cup back to him! Again! And now the team is putting in some more practice before going to Sweden where we are sure they will do well.

To the non-team members and those who came a long way to enter — thanks for the support. It gave our Springboks Proteas some good hard work to do and showed them to be right up there. Good luck in the World Champs you guys. We know you will do well. And to the marshals and backroom boys, thanks for the help. We cannot do without you.

As for me, I am going back to my computer to see if I can make it do simple sums, let alone GPS locations.