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  • Writer's picturekate.gillam1

Le Centaure (des fous) - A Preview

Updated: Oct 11, 2021

Late November Kirsty Adams, Caroline Brammer and Red Kite member Kate Gillam plan to compete as a team of three in Le Centaure 2021, an annual 100km night orienteering competition held in France and run over two nights. If you hunt hard enough on the web you will find out more about the competition, or perhaps you won't, it is hard to find, unless perhaps you are fluent in French and you are so lucky to find something, if not, you must rely on the pidgin English from google translator which is often hard to understand and ends up muddled like this long introduction now, but anyway rather than the dry facts that are hard to get, without anymore ado, I give you Kirsty's more concise and amusing synopsis of the event to come:

"...Next month I’ll be taking part in an orienteering competition on horseback in France. The rules appear to be as follows:

1. You must be crazy to enter. Or crazy to miss out on this awesome opportunity. One or the other! Difficult to tell exactly which once its been run through Google translate. 2. Don’t expect stabling for your horse or a bed for you. Sort it out yourself, and who needs a bed anyway? You’re not going to be sleeping much! (Personally I’m hoping I’ve actually got a horse. Bit vague on that point so far.) They will give us food, and possibly wine for breakfast. 3. Complaints will not be tolerated - stiff upper lip, everyone! You can cry in a corner as long as no one sees you doing it. 4. The judges can remove you from the course if they feel you or your horse look exhausted at any point. Given the start times of anywhere between 11pm and 2.30am, it could be hard to maintain alertness. 4. NO CHEATING!!! Don’t even think of smuggling in a GPS device of any sort, you’d be letting yourself, your horse, the organisers, and the whole of France down. 5. There are some more rules, but they haven’t written them down. Why would they?

Other than that, the rules seem to be much as for a normal TREC POR with speeds and checkpoints. Except instead of starting with a pot of 240 points which dwindles as you make errors, we start with 2000 points with the aim of not ending up in negative figures. And it will be dark. For the night bit anyway - all indications point to us still being on a horse in a damp and cold forest at least 12 hours later! Then we grab a bite to eat, a bit of kip, and do the same again the next night. (ed. probably wrong about this, no 'kip'!)

I am so looking forward to this! I’ve got 2 very experienced and capable teammates (ed. haha), so if we end up lost, we won’t be completely alone in the forest. I love a good adventure."

Photo from Centaure 2020 en Avesnois. Kate Gillam riding as a pair with Dutch friend Hanneke Kal on Hanneke's horses, Toffie and Shabi. After a week of torrential rain and with many a river to cross ( 'But I can't seem to find my way over, Wandering I am lost' ), it was unfortunate that Shabi refused to go through water unless he was led across from the ground, well, I mean led from the water. Wet feet seem to be a rather recurring theme (if you don't know, ask Polly).

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