Essex Stragglers Orienteering Society (SOS)


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Volume 20 Number 4
July 2007

Editors: Geraldine Russell and Andrew Cordle


Editorial - Andrew Cordle

Welcome to this edition, which sort of marks the end of the orienteering season, although the keener orienteer will have the Scottish 6 Days and the White Rose to keep them going to September. All the contributions are from the usual suspects, but we would welcome future contributions from the rest of the membership - event reports, photos, jokes, letters, anecdotes, are all welcome.

With the Notice of AGM on Friday 12th October (location to be advised in the next Newsletter) you will find a list of existing office holders, and will observe that many of them have multiple roles. Despite the evidence of their mugshots on http://www.stragglers.info/contacts, some of these are approaching middle age. Please consider coming to the AGM to learn how you might lighten their load, and (probably) lower their average age.

Chairman's Chat - Martin Sellens

Summer dreams, 2007

Having helped to control the Hylands Park event on 20th May, planned the High Woods event on 17th June, (OK; sorry about the “challenging” white course) planned and organised an event for a Sports Science summer school at the University and planned the Wivenhoe Park summer series event (actually, I haven’t yet, but it’s still three days away, so don’t panic), not to mention having done the Saunders Mountain Marathon at the weekend and helped on Monday at the schools day, I’m feeling a bit “Orienteered out”. I’d really be enjoying all this activity were it not for the inconvenience of having to work. Retirement is wasted on the old; I want it now. What I really fancy doing is mapping all Colchester; to the North as far as the A12 and to the South as far as the Roman River. OK, the Blackwater then. And maybe Mersea Island. So if there’s an O philanthropist out there who would like to sponsor this endeavour to the tune of, say £40,000 pa, I’m your man. But I’d like the weekends off to orienteer. And do some triathlons. And Mountain Marathons (including Mountain Bike ones). Oh dear; so many events and so little time.

Meanwhile, back in the real world, I’m feeling jealous of those of you who are touring the European multi-day events. After the Saunders, Hazel Tant and Matt Dickinson (honorary Straggler) were flying off the next day to Bordeaux to take part in the French five day. Wouldn’t that be great? Ah, those glorious sandy pine forests and the rolling waves of the Bay of Biscay just over the westernmost sand dune (40m)! Then there’s the O-Ringen, once in the Guinness book of records as the biggest mass-participation sporting event in the known Universe, but more recently eclipsed by the big city Marathons. Surely the Mecca for all Orienteers, but sadly not yet the senior Sellenses. However, next year is much heralded as the best ever, with loads of Chalet accommodation available for those not into Music Festival style camping and communal showers. Let’s have a Straggler’s trip! Watch this space (or, more constructively, book now via the website). Then there’s the Czech 5 day coming up in terrain so complex they’ve mapped it to 1in 5000. The Lynes are off there. Not that I’m jealous or anything. And closer to home, the Scottish.

So, as you can see, there’s more to Orienteering than Tiptree Heath, or even Roman Valley, and I sincerely hope that you will explore the boundless possibilities and report back via this newsletter so that we can all share in a bit of vicarious O-adventure tourism.

Minor business

The AGM will be held on Friday 12th October. The Agenda is appended. It may seem a bit early to be asking you to put this in your diaries, but the constitution demands a 21 day period of notice, and the nights are already drawing in. There will be a pot luck supper afterwards and all members are cordially invited to attend. Please inform me on 01206 766560 or sellm@essex.ac.uk so that catering can be co-ordinated.

And don’t forget the Compass-Sport trophy final near Mansfield just two days later on 14th October. Expect a call from Jenny Collyer.

Meanwhile, have a good summer. Perhaps there’ll be solar power to provide the much vaunted sun-dappled forests.

Notice of Annual General Meeting

2007 Annual General Meeting of Essex Stragglers Orienteering Society

To be held on Friday 12th October at 7.30 pm.

Venue to be confirmed.

Agenda -

  1. Apologies for Absence
  2. Minutes of the 2006 AGM
  3. Matters Arising
  4. Chairman’s Report
  5. Treasurer’s Report
  6. Subscription rates for the coming year
  7. Election of Chairman
  8. Election of Other Office Holders
  9. Any Other Business
  10. Presentation of Awards

Office holders elected at the 2006 AGM were -
ChairmanMartin Sellens
Vice Chairman(Vacant)
SecretaryClive Tant
TreasurerHilary Sellens
Club CaptainJenny Collyer
Newsletter EditorsGeraldine Russell/Andrew Cordle
Schools Liaison Officer and ESSOLJulie Laver
Fixtures SecretaryJack Isbester
Publicity OfficerLyn West
East Anglian Rep(Vacant)
Equipment OfficerJulia Robertson
Membership SecretaryGeraldine Russell
Map OfficerKevin Machin
Web MasterAndrew Cordle
Head CoachStephen Cartwright
Junior Club CaptainJames Lyne
AuditorJohn Russell

SOS Kit - Lyn West

Those Stragglers with good powers of observation will have noticed some smart new trendy O tops out in the forest. After a great deal of delay and a false start when the tops were not produced in the agreed design, I collected a supply of new style tops at the JK at Easter. As only a handful of people committed to purchase prior to the order, I kept it to the minimum required. However, once they arrived, there was a rush to buy and only a few made it back to Essex. A number of you were disappointed. I have now ascertained from Ultrasport the minimum reorder required and will place this before the end of July. If you aren’t on my waiting list and would like a top, please let me know so that I can judge the order accordingly. I do have medium (approx. 38” chest) in stock. Cost is likely to be around £32.50.

For the more traditionally minded, I do have limited supplies of old style kit. Please contact me for details.

Also in stock are T-shirts and Sweatshirts in Small, Medium, Large and Extra Large plus child sizes 7-8 and 9-10. Prices are £8 adult and £6 child for T-shirts and £12 & £10 for Sweatshirts.

Lyn West lyn@stragglers.info 01206 322905.

ESSOL News - Julie Laver

We have come to the end of another busy orienteering season and the final results of the Essex and Suffolk Schools Orienteering League have been calculated with much brain ache and panic on my part. They are as follows -
Up to BY6Up to GY6
1stThomas BirkettLucinda Wilkinson
2ndBryn WilkinsonOlivier Becher
3rdNicolas HarrisonRachael Harrison
1stMichael ParkEmma Vidler
2ndAlex WareFlora Mol
3rdRory CouttsFlora Hamilton
1stConnor WeedHannah Newton
2ndJames Park
3rdJack Lay
1stJames LyneEllen Sanderson
2ndThomas SherwinSarah Park
3rdAnna Machin
Team Trophy
Barnardiston Hall Preparatory School

Congratulations to all the winners.

A total of 25 schools and youth groups were represented this year, some old faces and some new. It is good to see all of you out in the countryside enjoying yourselves.

It is easy to be included in next years Schools League. All you have to do is turn up to some or all of the ESSOL events, fill in the registration form as fully as possible and you will be added to the participants list. Check your position within the League by following the links on the SOS or SUFFOC websites to http://www.cordle.net/essol where you will also find a full round up of the rules.

Next seasons fixtures include -

23rd Sept Hatfield Forest (SOS)
1st Nov The Naze (SOS)
25th Nov Tangham (SUFFOC)

6th Jan Knettisham Heath (SUFFOC)
3rd Feb Chalkney (SOS)
16th Mar Hockley (SOS)
10th May Castle Park (SOS)
15th Jun Wivenhoe Park (SOS)

Please check club websites for confirmation of events and final details nearer the time. Hope your orienteering year went well, and if it did not why not come along to some of our free coaching sessions to improve your techniques. You never know this time next year you too could be taking home one of our prestigious(!) trophies.

Explorer Challenge

The following juniors have gained 100 points on their Explorer Challenge and so have completed all four levels. Well done to -

Henry Mole, Catherine Mole, Thomas Birkett, Alex Birkett.

For details on how to enter please see Julie Laver at most SOS events.

Nerds Corner

In the darkest corner of every orienteering map lives a Nerd. His dank hollow is untroubled by even the most dappled sunlight; indeed the only illumination is from a 19 inch LCD screen. Here, amongst the discarded pizza boxes and mysterious cables, he (for they are predominently male) works his magic developing mysterious widgets for the mapper, planner, organiser and even the ordinary orienteer, for the Nerd is also a mapper, planner, organiser, and ordinary orienteer. We cannot hope to understand everything that the Nerd provides us with, but by creating guidance notes, we might be able to understand a little of the capabilities of their wondrous output.


Routegadget was develolped in Finland by Jarko Ryypoö, and has recently become popular in the UK. Where Splitsbrowser added a graphic view of the split times available from Sportident and Emit, Routegadget takes this to a new level, allowing routes, as well as times, to be compared.

First of all, the Webmaster has to provide three pieces of information to the system - the map (from OCAD), the courses (also from OCAD), and the split times (from Sportident). RouteGadget then displays the base map, and on selecting a course, you will see the runners and their times. Select some runners, click "View Amimation" then "Start", and coloured blobs representing the runners will make there way round the course, their speed being proportional the the speed they ran each leg. By default all the selected runners will be shown in a mass start race, but by unticking "Mass Start", you can see the race in (speeded up) real time. This is a great training aid for competitors, coaches, and the planner, giving a lot more information about what happened during the race than reading the split times or even viewing SplitsBrowser would give. A picture is worth a thousand words, so have a look at our High Woods 17th May event - follow the RouteGadget link from the results page http://www.stragglers.info/event/20070617.php.

The best, however, is yet to come. RouteGadget is a Web 2.0 application. This much-hyped piece of jargon means that it can rub shoulders with Social Networking sites (MySpace, Facebook), Wiki databases (Wikipedia) and tagged repositories (UTube, Flickr) in that the content is provided by the users themselves. Take a look at the Blue course. Andrew Cordle's name has an asterisk against it, which means he has drawn his course on the map. Select him and press "View routes" and his route appears. Click "View Amimation" and see him running. So once several people have submitted routes, you can see how popular and how fast each route was. Now if you view a Mass Start Animation, things get really interesting. You will never need to watch a soap opera on television again.

By now, I am sure, you are dying to draw your own course, if only you could remember it. There is an excellent user Guide on Paul Frost's useful website http://www.routegadget.co.uk, but basically, what you need to do is -

  1. Click "Draw your route", and select your class and your name.
  2. Find the Start on the map (you can zoom in and out with the "+" and "-" buttons and drag the map around while holding the left mouse button down). The first control will have a blue ring round it.
  3. Plot your route to the first control by clicking on the turning points of your route on the map. If you make a mistake (you will), use the undo button to go back. When you click near the centre of the first circle, the blue ring will move to the next control.
  4. You know what to do next. With a bit of practice you will get quite good at it. When you get to the finish click "Save Route". That's all you need to know. However, for advanced users ...
  5. If you untick "Snap on/off" you can show your route near the centre of the control circle without it snapping to the very centre. But make sure you click the very centre (next control goes blue) before you continue.
  6. You can press the "+3 Secs" button repeatedly to show where you were stationary. You can create small zig-zags to show where you were going slowly or round in circles. These will slow the amimation down in that part of the leg, speeding it up on the rest.
  7. You can use the "Comments" box to explain your briliant route choice, make excuses, etc.
  8. If you save a route but want to remove it, you can't. Contact me to remove it for you.

Remember, the more people who enter their courses, the more more useful it is for everyone.

Fixtures in East Anglia and Nearby Regions

The information provided below 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. Additional information in plain language.

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

August 2007



Spey 2007 - Scottish 6 Days




White Rose Weekend

September 2007



SO Sussex Sprint Series - Event 5. Goffs Park, Crawley. TQ260364.



Robert Lines, 01273 770315. robert@lines.org.uk £2.50/£1.00 SO Juniors free. EPS-SI. Starts 10.00 - 11.00. www.southdowns-orienteers.org.uk/event_detail.phpid_evt=48



SUFFOC 'Come and Try It' Event. Orwell Country Park, Ipswich. TM186405.



Clive Wilkinson, 01473 219059. clive.sally@btinternet.com £3.00/£1.00. White to Green + Red. Dogs on Leads. www.pdl.demon.co.uk/suffoc



WAOC Try-O. Hinchingbrooke Country Park, Huntingdon. TL221717.



Dil Wetherill. Fees TBA. Dogs on lead. homepage.ntlworld.com/n.humphries/waoc/



NOR Try O & Score Event. University of EA, Norwich. TG196078.



Alan W Bedder, 01603 424589. alan.bedder@virgin.net £5.50/£1.00, £6.50 Family units & Groups. Parking 50p. Dogs on leads. www.noroc.co.uk



SOS District Event & EAGAL & ESSOL. Hatfield Forest, Bishop's Stortford. TL547203.



Jack Isbester, 01621 815501. IsbesterJ@aol.com £7.00/£2.00. EPS-SI. Parking £1.00. www.stragglers.info



SOS Come and Try It Event Hanningfield Reservoir , Stock. TQ725971.



David Birkett, 01245 352365. david.birkett@blueyonder.co.uk £2.00/£1.00. EPS-SI. www.stragglers.info

Event Reports

Springtime in Gotland - John Collyer

Our Swedish club, Jarfalla OK, decided to hold their club champs on the island of Gotland. This would probably be our only chance to go there, so we decided to forget Shropshire and fly and sail to Gotland.

Some basic facts about Gotland:

  1. The largest of the Swedish islands in the Baltic, it is a 3 hour sail from the mainland.
  2. Unlike the rest of Sweden it is entirely sedimentary, having gradually risen from the Baltic since the last ice age – many of the inland lakes were arms of the sea in Viking times.
  3. The island was strategically located on the trade routes of the Hanseatic League and was the port for many rich traders.
  4. The island gradually declined in importance, but the main town Visby, still retains its medieval core surrounded by enormous walls. Those of you familiar with the Pippi Longstocking films will recognise the walls and old houses.

We stayed in a stuga (hut) on the northwest coast next to the hostel, and close to the local clubhouse, used by the rest of the club. This, of course, was on a mapped forest with a permanent course.

Saturday’s event was held on flat limestone wood and heathland; it was shared with a local junior competition, and included toilets, showers, free coffee and cake. Gotland is famous for its flora, and although the woods are pine, there is a strong understory of Juniper bushes, which hinder visibility and straight routes, along with a liberal sprinkling of orchids. When I asked about the orchids – beautifully out in flower and well trampled at assembly, I was told that a survey when the O-Ringen was here, showed that large numbers of orienterers had little lasting effect. The Junipers were my excuse for this run, I must have run close to one control and then circled round it until guided in by other runners.

Juniper forest

Juniper forest

Old sea cliff line

Old sea cliff line

Day 2 was held on a coastal strip, which included a number of complex raised cliff lines and beaches. Good planning gave us an interesting mix of the flat higher areas and the tricky rocks, and I did much better – in other words I was not last on the course.

After two “touristy” days we left for home. Gotland is a lovely island and we recommend anyone to look out for multi-day events there.

Schools Day - Julie Laver

This years annual SOS schools day score event was held as usual at Wivenhoe Park on Monday 9th July. Despite gloomy weather predictions we saw little sign of rain until near the end of the session – just as we were trying to pack away!

We had a good mix of schools from our usual St Marys and Manningtree groups, through to new comers Sir Charles Lucas and Meadgate with even a small but challenging group of excluded youngsters from Maldon.

The usual suspects turned out to help and the day went smoothly. Most of the kids were well behaved and enthusiastic and we managed not to loose anyone although a pair of St Marys girls were half hour late back and ended up with a record breaking -20 score!
Schools Day Map

We managed to rope in Emma Johnson to have a go at some of the coaching games and she is now thinking of giving coaching a go. Her highlight was seeing Colchester United Football Team players standing in wheelie bins full of water playing catch – I kid you not!

We also had an international visitor in the form of Jack’s grandson Tom from Spain who joined in enthusiastically and was also very helpful.

If you know a school which might like to join in next years event please contact one of the committee and we will put them on our mailing list and send them further details when they are available.

The History of SOS - An East Anglian Perspective - Andrew Cordle

Continuing the history of the club as seen through early editions of the East Anglian Orienteering Association's newsletter - Points East.

Chapter 4

The fourth edition continues the trend in not being dated, but from its content, must have been published shortly after 15th July 1973, when EAOA held its first AGM. At the meeting, the membership of the Suffolk club, which included Essex in its catchment, was stated as approximately 40. Hally Hardy took over the EAOA Chair, and the Vice Chairman's position was left unfilled (a situation which you won't want to occur at next October's Stragglers AGM ...).

A "short-legged, long sighted and overweight" W43 called Pauline Stevens, who later served on the SOS Committee over many decades, wrote to say that she had caught Orienteering and that there was no cure. Fortunately, she had infected husband Bill so they were able to help each other. At a score event in Rendlesham Forest their co-operation lead to an impressive minus 591 points! I suppose that's the thing about orienteers - they could have scored a lot more points by sitting in the car, but preferred the mud and the bruises of a good(?) run. Pauline's seems to have had two criteria for a successful run at the time - either not finishing last or completing the course before the control markers were collected in.

Alan Milton described a walk along the 23 mile waymarked path from High Ash to West Stow in Thetford Forest. (I wonder if it is still waymarked? There are certainly posts with little red arrows in several parts of the forest.) They had decided to walk the route from north to south so that they could take advantage of the Sunday licensing hours (remember them?) in Brandon. I remember Alan later showed the same precision planning in the production of the SOS Committee meeting minutes, which (typing onto a duplicating stencil with no opportunity for review or editing) were always exactly one full page of paper long.

In the Club News section, Derek Keeble suggests that the members of the Suffolk club living in Essex form their own club. He reminds them that the Stragglers Orienteering Society, sometimes referred to (erroneously) as Essex Stragglers, had been formed in 1965 and proposed that it be reinvigorated, and a meeting held after a HAVOC event in Thorndon Park.

Hints for better orienteering -
1 - Read the map (know exactly where you are).
2 - Know which direction you're heading, i.e. a rough bearing.
3 - Aim for a "collecting" feature which will lead you in to the control.
4 - From the collecting feature take a precise bearing and pace count to the control.
5 - Know what you are looking for i.e. the control description

Chapter 5

The Editor reports that Essex Save-Our-Stragglers (SOS), as well as out neighbours Havering O.C. (HAVOC) have joined EAOA.

A letter listing the results of East Anglians in the summer multi-day events list two M35 Stragglers (D. Keeble and R. Russell) finishing 34th and 35th in the fifth Mammoth (Northumberland) and Derek also finishing 28th in the Second White Rose weekend. The Fixtures section lists Derek organising a "Come & Try It " event at Friday Woods (the area we now know as Roman Valley).

Derek Keeble had also found time to write, claiming to pass on some tips learned from the 70 events he had attended. However, he started the next paragraph "Once I took a girl to the woods!" and the rest of the article was richer in anecdotes than coaching material.

From the EAOA Committee meeting, September 23rd 1973 - - Help needed in finding new orienteering land - Appeal for new planners and organisers - Consideration of sharing transport to distant events

Chapter 6

Derek Keeble wrote on the unique nature of orienteering clubs, and the lack of the feeling of being in a team in what is an individual sport. He concludes that clubs are necessary to provide identity to orienteers and to provide the administrative structure of the sport.

Pauline Stevens recorded that she and Bill had found a practical use for the map and compass skills that orienteering had taught them. On a holiday in the Peak District they had walked from Edale up on to the Kinder Plateau in sunny weather, although there was thunder in the distance. The plateau must be one of the bleakest places in the country, consisting of peat bog interlaced with (sometimes dry) stream beds which all look the same. You can imagine the rest - thunder, hail, rising water levels, icy winds. However, with their orienteering skills they were able to find their way back to the edge of the plateau.

The fixtures list shows that Essex Stragglers were organising a street event in Stanway, the organiser, of course, being D. Keeble.

BOF membership fees are increased for 1974 to Juniors - 50p, Seniors - £1.35, Family £1.65. In addition, EAOA (50p) and club membership fees will be payable.


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