Friday, June 08, 2012

Results of a three town 'Octathlon' sporting challenge series

Sporting rivals compete in contests in Letchworth, Baldock & Stevenage

On Thursday 7th June I competed in a series of sport and games challenges against Dodgeball and Minigolf adversary “Rowdy” Russell Fenner. The ‘Octathlon’ event comprised of eight contests in three towns.

The contest ended up as an Octathlon, rather than a Biathlon, Duathlon, Triathlon, Pentathlon, Hexathlon, Heptathlon or Decathlon of events due to a mixture of us being unable to agree on a set number of contests to play and not actually planning the event further than setting what the first event would be!

The action began at the Letchworth Par-3 Golf Centre with a 9-hole round of Pitch & Putt. Both of us have previously played the course “a few years ago” so it was as level a playing field as it could be.

“Rowdy” Russell won the honour of teeing-off first with a preliminary round win in a game of Rock Paper Scissors. He promptly shanked the ball off the tee and landed in the heavy rough.

'Rowdy' Russell Fenner looks for a missing Golf ball

Choosing to play the Golf round early was a wise decision as the weather was fairly mild at tee-off, but took a turn for the worse later in the day. The round on the tough but fair Letchworth layout saw Russell score a 45(+18) while I scored a 38(+11) to take the opening win of the contest.

Following what would be the only true outdoor event of the Octathlon we headed inside for a game of Pool.

With Russell previously having the edge in Pool matches against me he won the Rock Paper Scissors game and let me have the break. The match was the closest we’ve had against each other, and after ‘Rowdy’ miss-cued on his first shot I thought I’d pick up a win. However, Russell won the contest to tie the Octathlon at one win apiece.

Playing Pool at Letchworth Par-3 Golf Centre

Next up, Darts. Not Russell’s strongpoint, but with one high double figure score of 78 punctuating a run of dismal throws he did manage to get down to a double. The round of Darts was played in a 301-straight-in, double-out format and saw me once again take the lead in the series with an escape of the ‘madhouse’ by hitting double-1.

The scoreboard from the Darts match at Letchworth Par-3 Golf Centre

With the games in Letchworth completed we headed down the road to  The Orange Tree Inn  in nearby Baldock for a game or Bar Billiards. Walking into the public bar at the Orange Tree there was a bit of a shock as the table was nowhere to be seen! Luckily after asking the barman we found the table had been moved into the other bar. It’s in a great position now with space to play shots from both sides. There is also a great old painting of the Orange Tree Pub hanging over the table.

Russell aiming for the 200-hole on the Orange Tree's Bar Billiards table

As Russell had never played Bar Billiards before we had a friendly warm-up contest. The match saw some steady, if a little low, scoring before the sudden-death shoot-out. With the score at 500 to 340 Russell needed to hit the 200-hole to win and after a few missed shots he nailed it to take the win in his debut game.

The Octathlon round kicked off after a short interval and the game was played in front of an audience of a man eating his lunch. It must have been the added pressure of having a spectator present that led to some of the most dismal Bar Billiards ever played. The man “having played a bit in his time” offered a few tips, but to no avail to either of us. The contest once again went to a sudden-death play-off, however Russell was in an almost unwinnable position and as I didn’t topple the black mushroom it stayed that way as I picked up a win 640 to 550, despite Russell once again nailing the 200-shot.

The new position of the Orange Tree's Bar Billiards table

The morning session of gaming action finished with a 3-1 scoreline and was punctuated by a sportsman’s lunch of Fish & Chips at the excellent Cox’s of Letchworth. Adequately fuelled for the final stretch of competition the two rivals headed down the A1(M) to Stevenage and the Hollywood Bowl to play a game of Tenpin Bowling.

Unfortunately due to it being half-term all of the bowling lanes were fully booked for the next two hours, so the next series of sporting endeavours, would have to be amusement arcade games-based.

First up in the arcade games was Air Hockey and a decisive 7-1 win to Russell to make the Octathlon series 3-2.

A 7-1 Air Hockey win for Russell in Stevenage 

The next contest was a battle at the Basketball Hoops shoot-out ticket game. Russell once again won the Rock Paper Scissors contest to see who would go first and ‘put me into bat’. I opened with a few good baskets before failing to score much more. My total to beat was a meagre 17. Russell stepped up and nailed 19 to take the contest to three wins apiece.

The seventh game and last of the three amusement arcade events was the Sideshow Shooting Gallery ticket-game. Winning the Rock Paper Scissors I let Russell play first to set a target score. Missing just one shot he ended with a good total of 190 points. This wasn’t enough though as I hit each of my targets and scored a perfect 200 and make the Octathlon 4-3 in my favour.

Sideshow Shootout in Stevenage

With time ticking on and the weather getting worse there were no other sports or games options in the area and so the final contest would be a best-of-5 Rock Paper Scissors match.

Rock Paper Scissors was a running-theme of the Octathlon due to both players’ history in the game, having competed against each other in the team contest at the 2011 Sportingbet UK Rock Paper Scissors Championships in London.

Throughout the day Russell had won most of the RPS ‘honours’ games and managed to keep his nerve to win the Rock Paper Scissors contest to tie the Octathlon at 4-4. Far from being a decision making tool, in this instance Rock Paper Scissors had merely been an (un)decider in the Octathlon event!

Another multi-sport contest is scheduled to take place between the pair of us later in the summer...

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