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Essex Stragglers Orienteering Society (SOS)

June 2004

Editors: Jenny and John Collyer, email


Editorial - Jenny and John Collyer

Some of you will have received an email from us regarding the availability of an electronic copy of the newsletter on the SOS website and some have already opted to receive the newsletter in this way. It is club policy to make hard copy available to members and it will be assumed you want this unless you tell us otherwise.

We wish everyone a good summer’s orienteering whether far afield or closer to home.

Chairman's Chat - Lyn West

Greetings from the Chair! I am decidedly in holiday mode. The recent weather has made me feel that summer is approaching. The torrential rain of the British is but a distant memory to be replaced with memories of dry sunny weather at the JK and Triple O Severn. There was a good turnout of Stragglers at both events and the tent on relay days was highly sociable as always. We had some new faces too especially at the JK which was great.

There was also a superb turnout at the CompassSport Final. Alas Martin has put the victory speech away for another year. Thank you to all who came especially the SHUOC contingent. It is good to know that when we need them, our juniors come to our aid, even if they are defecting for major relay events. Mind you. I am beginning to think that SHUOC are really part of SOS. They even used our tent at the JK. Congratulations to Eleanor West on her election as Captain of SHUOC.

So what is new on the orienteering front. EAOA are going to appoint a Regional Development Officer to work with schools and clubs in the region to establish links bringing school orienteers into the regular scene. Funding is coming through BOF from Sport England. I think the prospects are quite exciting and I have several thoughts on how we can use such a person. Schools seem very interested in including orienteering in their activities. The response to Schools Day has been positive and we have had two unsolicited approaches from schools in recent months. As a small club our volunteer time is well stretched so having the part time services of paid employee sounds like good news.

Our ability to cope with developing orienteers has been given a boost by the interest of several members. Four Stragglers attended a recent Level 1 coaching course and I hope will be able to get involved in some basic tuition for the younger members of the club. Richard Barker is close to qualifying as Level 2 coach and I am sure we can find uses for his skills! Providing coaching for ALL club members is something that we are considering as a priority, as I know a number of the newer senior members have asked about this. So watch this space.

Anyway, I am already looking forward to my O holidays – Belgian 3 day, WMOC in Italy and the Welsh in August. I know other Stragglers are planning trips to O-ringen and World Champs, also in Sweden. No doubt some of you have more relaxing destinations in mind. Whatever-ENJOY!

Captain's Log - Martin Sellens

Well, that's it for the Compass Sport Trophy for another year. Once again Straggler's nemesis came from an unexpected quarter. How come Forth Valley get to be a small club and have the temerity to sally south to deprive us of our rightful place at the top of the shrub? (Tree only for large clubs). Last year it was Sarum, importing a gaggle of SW junior squad and sundry Marines (damned professionals!), and not long before that a rampant CLARO reinforced with SHUOC mercenaries. Last year the Scottish representatives, CUNOC could barely muster a team, so where did FVO suddenly come from? And why is Jason Inman FVO when he was CLARO in 2000? What has he got against Stragglers (a question that also exercises our top juniors)?

Never mind! The stalwarts of SOS haven't been outside the top three for at least four years, and the last time we failed to make the final was when I accidentally entered us as a large club (I could pretend that this was a deliberate search for some top quality opposition, but the truth is less flattering). A quick analysis of the results suggests we need to grow, import or develop the talents of some green men (60+) and some juniors (14-). More below on talent development! Meanwhile, well done to all who travelled North to sample the 0.2m knolls and rootstocks of Pillar Woods. Actually, it was a lovely place to run (though arguably the courses might have avoided quite so many legs across the open fields) and no matter how "easy" the navigation, there's always scope for errors for the determined.

Anyway, here are the results.
BrownBlue WomenBlue MenGreen WomenGreen Men Light GreenOrangeTotalPosition
468252468468240 252252

Back to the issue of developing the incipient talent in our ranks. How many of us have ever really had any instruction in the arcane arts and science of Orientering? Isn't it the experience of all but a few that have come through the ranks of the excellent East Anglian Junior Squad, that Orienteering skills are largely (if ever) self taught? Why should we expect that newcomers, of whatever age, should be able to just pick it up as they go? I wonder how many members we have lost because they never got past the headless chicken stage and simply gave up in despair. This issue was also a discussed the last committee meeting (and may be reported elsewhere) and it was decided that we must do better! As a start, there will be a coaching event and DIY BBQ at the Sellens residence on Saturday 19th June, starting at 5.00pm and using the Roman Valley map. All ages and levels of experience welcome. Bring stuff to carbonise. Parking restricted. Please ring on 01206 766560, or email to let us know if you will be coming. Address is Somakam, Roman Hill, Mersea Rd, Blackheath, Colchester GR TM007210. The following day there is a 13m round the Island race on Mersea, starting at 10.00 for those with boundless energy. Ask nicely and we may even let you camp overnight in the back garden.

Event Reports

Easter in Cumbria or JK 2004 - Ramlings of a Straggler - Nancy Powell Davies

This year’s Easter orienteering jamboree, generally known as the JK since it is named after Jan Kellstrom who played a large part in the introduction of the sport to Britain, was held in southwest Cumbria. The event centre was at Ulverston High School who have won many schools awards but I never got there.

Neither did I get to the practice day on Friday – Jeff and I had decided to go for a short walk up a mountain first (in the mist / low cloud) and I was so slow that there wasn’t enough time to drive down to the event.

So I was nicely stiff when we turned up at Graythwaite on Saturday and had no idea how to approach the maps with their lack of paths and intricate contour detail – a bit different from Thetford! In the general classes they try to cluster entries from the same club together so Lyn and Julia were setting off just after me. I started off straight up a very steep hill and thought I was watching the contours but, obviously not well enough because I was soon wandering around looking for the correct re-entrant.

It turned out to be higher up than I expected. One down, 13 to go and as I made my way down the hill there was Julia purposely following her route, confident that she knew where she was. Lyn caught me on the way to number two but then climbed higher. I kept my line and found the control without too much difficulty so felt very smug. I didn’t feel so good later on when I went round and round, up and down a steep hillside with brashings and brambles on in search of number 5, despite what I thought was a careful approach. Lyn came along and went straight to it and that was the last I saw of her.

By the time I got back (we had a late start that day) most of the event was over and there was a long queue waiting to get out of the field onto the narrow lane. By the time I was changed and ready to go the queues were less and the parking field emptier – I was impressed that there was so little litter visible – either hardly any had been dropped or the volunteers had done a good job of collecting it up.

On Sunday we had an earlier start and the drive down was grey but we soon located the club tent again, carried by the Robinson family and erected in the area set aside for club tents near the final run in. Parking was in parkland just below Graythwaite House. This day I started just after Lyn, Hilary and Jenny so didn’t see anybody. The first part was through beautiful clear, lightly wooded countryside with views over Lake Windermere. I managed to get totally lost later on but overall felt that I had put in a better run. Unfortunately so had everyone else so I was still almost (but not quite) last!

By now the day was bright and sunny and the elite runners had started later in reverse order to their finishing times from the previous day so the commentators over the loudspeakers were getting more and more excited as fresh runners came in with the best time. A chilli from Wilf’s and the chocolate peanuts that I had been promising myself all Lent nicely replenished my energy.

Jeff and I didn’t stay until all the elite runners came in but made our way back towards the first day’s parking area to the Trail O open event. After the super-efficiency required to organise 3,000 competitors and their cars and the highly charged commentary on the elite runners the contrast could not have been more marked. Perhaps it was because the event was held in a wood surrounding a Friends’ (Quaker) meeting house but here things were much quieter and more relaxed. The competitive event had been held the previous day in the same area but we were using a new permanent course (the first in the world?).

I’d only done one Trail O event before, many years ago, so was grateful for the practice control ably organised by some youngsters. Then it was a gentle stroll along the path suitable for wheelchairs through the woods, stopping at the set points to decide which of the 3 possible kites visible in the appropriate direction were actually on the point marked on the map. Except for the ‘tiebreaker’ timed control you can take as long as you like. A couple of yurts and a wigwam added interest to the experience. I was pleased to find that I had got them all correct so rewarded myself with a cup of tea and a look into the historic meeting house.

On Sunday evening all the SOS members in the area and a few other friends were invited to the farmhouse where the Robinsons were staying. This proved an ideal location with a large kitchen and equally spacious dining room. Proceedings started with an Easter egg hunt around the garden for all the ‘children’ (defined as under 21). It was fascinating to watch the kitchen table fill up with a wide variety of food and then, almost as quickly, empty as we all feasted. There was plenty for everyone.

Monday was relays day. Again we had a well signed roundabout drive along narrow country lanes rather than the direct route which it was feared would cause difficulties to other road users. There is a limit to the number of fields flat enough to accommodate all those cars so the start, handover and finish were in a field a short walk away from the car park. That meant that the club tent really came into its own as a base to leave things and cover to get changed. There it was, already erected in prime position beside the finish banner.

Although it was not quite so sunny as Sunday, it was very pleasant there watching the competitors of all ages complete their runs. (I won’t say anything about my run except that once I’d found the first control it got better).

And the results? Well, I think most of the SOS members there met my criterion of giving others someone to beat. Mind you, there can’t be many clubs of our size with 5 runners chosen for the elite courses. I think that Chris was most successful in coming seventh in M20 elite but the rest of us competed at our own level and enjoyed some beautiful (if occasionally frustrating) countryside. This I feel is one of the joys of orienteering – all ages and standards of fitness can compete at the same time. The fine weather helped, as did the work of Steve and Julia Robinson, our captain Martin Sellens and Lyn and Colin West who organised accommodation for many in a hostel.

OO7 National Event - Lydney Park, May 2nd - Jenny Collyer

The Forest of Dean was one of our local orienteering areas when we first started the sport in the mid 70’s so I was particularly looking forward to this event especially as I knew that in May the forest floor would be covered in bluebells. What a shame that we all had to trample through them, though. In fact, Russell’s Enclosure, the area used for the short races on the previous day, was the location of one of our early attempts at mapping but we couldn’t remember which bit we did!

My course used the western part of Lydney Park which was steeper than the eastern part I had previously used. A bad cold during the week before the event made me go slower but possibly paid off as I only made a couple of small mistakes – the second being due to confusion over a tower not being marked on the map. I was glad to see the mine workings in the central area were marked out of bounds as I have horrid memories of looking for controls amongst the dangerous crags here in earlier events.

Well done to Chris Sellens and Suzie Robertson. Chris was the only Straggler to get a Championship standard finishing 3rd on M20 E. Suzie finished 4th on W20E just missing out on a Championship standard by seconds.

The British Relays, which the North East OA had had to cancel in March, were put on at short notice the following day at Cockshoot Hill. The area was hilly but fairly fast, partly with brashings but also some more runnable areas of bluebell cover. I was hurrying from the car park to the assembly area for my third leg run a bit worried I had left it late when Lyn, our first leg runner came running/strolling? by on her course. "Don’t bother to hurry Jenny", she said. "I’m only half way round"! At least I was able to relax for a bit.

SOS Notice Board

Hall of fame

Congratulations to: Jo West, Hazel & Nina Tant on 3rd place in W18- at the British Relay Champs (Cockshoot, May 3rd)

Midland Champions: Eleanor West (W21) & Suzy Robertson (W20) (Breakneck Bank, April 18th)

East Anglian Champions: (Hockham, March 28th) Jo West (W16), Jonathon Pye (M18), Katie Sellens (W18), Hazel Tant (W20) Richard Bonnett (M45), Hilary Sellens (W45), Martin Sellens (M50) & Jenny Collyer (W55).

Jo West on selection for Under 17 Tour to Halden and the World Class Start Programme.

Trail Run - Wednesday 30th June, 6.00pm onwards

The Fox, Bulmer Tye This is on the Sudbury to Halstead Road (A131) at GR TL849389

Instead of a map competitors are given a written description of the route to be followed. As well as the exercise it is good practice in concentrating on information as in orienteering. The two courses will be approx. 3 and 6 miles. Further details from Jenny and John Collyer on 01787 370947 or

SOS National Ranking Positions

This list is complete for events up to the 25th May. The competitor’s position reflects the best 6 scores over the previous 12 months. We have only included members scoring in 3 or more events. In some cases a score from a previous age class is given where there are too few scores in the new class.

M20L   8th Chris Sellens          M55S  53rd John Collyer
M20S   2nd Stephan Pugh           M70L  23rd Jack Isbester            
M21L  95th Jeff Powell Davies     W20L   4th Suzy Robertson
     214th Peter Finch (5)               8th Nicola Robertson
M35L  51st Bert Park              W21L  30th Ann Roller
M35S  96th Robert Hammond               57th Eleanor West
M45L  45th Andrew Malley               166th Chloe Russell (4)
      91st Clive Tant             W21S  54th Miriam Pugh	
     122nd Mark Lyne              W40S  74th Alison Malley (3)
     133rd Colin West             W45L  33rd Hilary Sellens
     142nd Geoff Pye              W45S  25th Wendy Welham           
M50L  15th Martin Sellens         W50L  60th Lyn West                      
      73rd Steve Robertson        W50S  30th Julia Robertson
      98th Nicholas Pugh          W55L  17th Jenny Collyer
M50S  96th Richard Barker (5)     W60L  45th Geraldine Russell

Schools' League News - Dave Birkett

Shadowing my son Thomas as he ran though the woods at Hylands Park at the recent ESSOL event had an effect which I can’t shake off. His running seemed so effortless, purposeful, logical and fun. We both got a buzz; Tom from competing in something adventurous and I from sharing in his enjoyment. It was a beautiful day. Senses bombarded by sounds of woodland birds and the scent of Bluebells. Spring at its best.

So the 2003/4 ESSOL season draws to a close with most of the trophy winners being decided at the last event. For those who missed the presentation at High Woods arrangements will be made for the schools to receive trophies and certificates with a request that they be awarded at an appropriate time.

The region has exciting times ahead with the appointment of a Regional Development Officer. The job will be to improve links between Schools and clubs, introduce the sport to more people, develop those already involved and discover a regional World Champ. Not much to ask!!

Don’t forget our Schools Day at Essex University on 12th July. There is also a follow up event, open to all, at High Woods near Colchester on 17th July.The courses include one yellow, two white and an Orange to test your skills. If you have the time and want to help out at either event let me know. The Schools Day is very rewarding and good fun.

Fixtures in East Anglia and Nearby Regions

For up-to-date fixtures information, see the following websites -
Link to SOS Essex stragglers fixtures
Link to EAOA East Anglian Orienteering Association fixtures
Link to BOF British Orienteering Federation fixtures

The information provided normally consists of Event Date, Region (eg EA = East Anglia), Event Grade and Type (Grade 1 is highest grade, Grade 5 is lowest. Type C is a conventional Cross Country event in which controls must be visited in the sequence listed on the description sheet). Event & Location Names and map reference. Organiser's contact details. Contact details, costs, closing date etc. for Pre-entry when provided. Whether Entry on the Day (EOD) is possible and the surcharge payable. The range of courses offered. The address of a website from which additional information can be obtained.

At Essex Stragglers' events registration normally opens at 1000hrs, starts are from 1030hrs until 1230hrs and courses close at 1430hrs.