Stragglers' League - Andrew Cordle
Congratulations to the above, particularly those breaking in to the Top 10 (and even more particularly Lyn, up nine places!
There will be plenty of oportunites to score points in 2010, starting with the New Years Novelty at Colchester High Woods. Don’t forget that you need to enter the Shouldham Warren event via the Club Captain. The first events are –
The League has been running for two years now. Let me know if you think the rules or criteria for including events could be improved. They are to be found on the club wesite http://www.stragglers.info/league , which also has the latest scores.
SOS Notice board - 'O' kit for sale
Are you having a clear out of kit for the new year?
Bring your good quality unwanted ‘O’ kit to the enquiries point at our events and we will display it for sale.
All items to be marked with the price and sellers name and contact number.
Please collect unsold kit before you leave as we cannot store items.
Also for sale are club T-shirts (£5) and sweatshirts (£7)
For New Club ‘O’ kit see Lyn West
Fixtures in East Anglia and Nearby Regions
The World Masters Games is held every 4 years, and this year the annual Orienteering Masters were included within it. Over 1200 orienteers (age 35+) came from all over the world for the Sprint Races, (held in the Sydney area), and the Long Races (based at Lithgow in the Blue Mountains).
A model event in the grounds of an old hospital helped us get used to orienteering after long journeys, followed by Round 1 at McQuarrie University and the Final around part of the Olympic Park.
The University campus was typical of any that we had run on in Britain, but the Olympic Park had a few surprises around and within some of the stadia. We both ran well enough to make the B finals, within the Olympic complex and which were based around the Log Choppers stadium (yes they do have their own venue), ran reasonably well, but with enough odd errors to end well down.
The model event at Ben Bullen, introduced us to lovely eucalyptus forest with generally clear floors, and extremely complex rock detail of very large boulders and cliffs.
Day 1 was in the same area with my course having a good mixture of rock and undulating forest, but Jenny was disappointed with only relatively easy forest and no rock.
Day 2 moved further north to Clandulla, where we both had a good mixture of forest and rock, and enjoyed our runs.
Jenny was in the B final due to a mix-up over start times on day 2 (also at Clandulla) which led her to start nearly two hours late, an extra time penalty that the organisers would not re-adjust. I had a generally good run but a missing river on the map led several of us to climb up a spur too early and waste time searching for the control.
We also spent time in New Zealand and took part in two days of their South Island Championships based in the Dunedin area. The sprint was around Dunedin University and the Middle Distance race at Gabriel’s Gully, an area of complex, old gold workings. The middle race produced some very long times for the quoted distances due to the complexity, steepness, and low scrub which reduced visibility and was difficult to run straight through.
Around all these we did lots of sightseeing using, where we could, trains across both Australia and New Zealand, and enjoyed sights such as a flight over the glaciers of the Southern Alps and walking around the crater of an active volcano.
Next year’s Masters are in Switzerland – much nearer for any of you who are old enough to qualify.
As a newcomer I thought that I had a good reason for missing the Compass Sport final, namely the UKA Fell Relays. Unfortunately someone felt that this might make a basis for a report for the newsletter. I have my doubts.
Rather than a lot on the Fell Relays, I thought that a little on a number of fell events that I have enjoyed this autumn might be preferable, starting back in September, with a weekend in the Lake District, the wife swimming in the Great North Swim in Windermere, giving me the chance to take part in the Lake District Mountain Trial. I was uncertain which course to opt for, but eventually wimped out and entered the short course, listed as about 10 miles with 3500ft of climb. This seemed about right on the day, a good 3h50m run around some 5 checkpoints, starting at Eskdale YHA, and taking in Peelplace Noddle (sorry, the name amuses me), High Scarth Crag, Hard Knott, skirting Harter Fell to Green Crag and back to Eskdale. Visibility was excellent, conditions perhaps a little warm and the 1/40,000 map took a little while to adjust to. The full trial was listed as being about 16 miles. In the event it turned out to be more like 25 miles, visiting Great How, Broad Crag, Seathwaite Fell, Allen Crags, a long trek back south to Great Carrs, Crook Crag and back to Eskdale. Seeing the route I was pleased to have opted for the 10 mile fun run, and with finishing 28th out of 67.
The weekend after I was hoping to renew the fierce fell running rivalry with my son at the Isle of Wight Fell Running Series, St. Boniface Fell, 3miles/780ft, Ventnor Horseshoe, 7m/1500ft and Wroxall Round, 13m/1500ft. Unfortunately he couldn’t make it, car troubles and the prospect of being beaten in the longer races, possibly. These are enjoyable races though, and conditions were again very pleasant. Possibly the prospect of a second climb on to the downs above Ventnor in the second race on Saturday is the hardest part, though racing up and down through the streets of the town is also interesting. Placing in the series 44th out of 68.
The races in the Isle of Wight series were all marked and marshalled, not that this stops some people from going astray. Many fell races are not, and for this reason and the increasing popularity of mountain marathons the navigation courses run by the Fell Runners Association are always fully subscribed. They asked for volunteer helpers a few years back; it’s a free weekend away, a couple of days on the fells, looking at maps & trying to help three or four runners to gain a little confidence in map reading. The picture shows much of the hillside used (south west of Grasmere), and around 5 of the checkpoints in the navigation challenge on the Sunday.
The UKA Fell Relays took place this year near Ennerdale in the North West of the Lake District. Springfield Striders have entered teams in the event for a number of years now; this year we had an open and a vets team, with six runners per team, two singles and two pairs legs, one a specifically navigation leg. Unusually for this event none of the legs were marked or marshalled, just 6 or so checkpoints to visit over a course of between 5 and 7 miles with 1500 to 2500 foot of climb. As the weather deteriorated over the day the navigation became interesting as the visibility reduced from the panoramic views of the previous day to just a few hundred metres. The leading three teams into leg 4 missed one of the checkpoints and were disqualified. Given the poor visibility I was pleased to finish my navigation leg 114th out of 145 in 2 hours and 5 minutes. Our navigator in the open team was another new Straggler, Kevin Ellis, who with his partner finished 63rd in 1 hour 55 minutes. The winning time for the navigation leg was just over the hour. Overall our teams finished a pleasing 66th and 114th.
A few too many weekends away, so the next trip was a day trip to Edale for the first of three Dark & White Mini Mountain Marathons. The events are 3 hour score orienteering events. I visited 11 of the 20 checkpoints, about 15k with 2 big climbs to the skyline, perhaps around 600 metres of climb. Initially the visibility was poor and the rain heavy, but it cleared mid morning, just when I needed it to for some of the harder to find points around the edge of Kinder. I think the winner clocked 260 points out of the possible 305. I managed 185, to finish 24th out of 122 starters.
We had planned a couple of other races, Breidden Hills and the Roaches, which we failed to make for various reasons. Whether our plans for the next, the Wrekin Wrecker on Nov 22nd comes to fruition is debatable, but the lure of samosas at the finish, and the race being the easiest fell to get to make it likely. After that is the next Dark & White Mini MM, Calderdale Way Relay and Springfield Striders own fell race on Hadleigh Downs. Then next year.
The History of Orienteering in India – Richard Newton
I sit on my flight deck dreaming of orienteering in English woodland and one day when I explained the sport to a first officer we laughed at the concept of a sport such as orienteering in the forests of Kerala. This was my inspiration to write. No disrespect is intended to the resourceful and tenacious people of India.
Chithra had been struck by the enthusiasm of the western man he had met in the bar for a sport he had never heard of before. What was its name again, something to do with the east, it would come to him? The western man had been under the influence of Indian made foreign liquor but had still been coherent enough to convey the sense of the sport. Chithra had been captivated by the animation of the man as he described the thrill of navigating over native forest in a battle as much against himself as against his fellow competitors.
In the morning he found he couldn’t shake off his curiosity and when he arrived at the shop he owned in the busy street just off the main road, still very handy for the bus station, he began to discuss it with Amit, his long serving and faithful manager. Amit had been a local cricketing celebrity in his time before the politics of the sport closed all the doors to him and he settled down to a life in the home town he loved. As Chithra struggled to make sense of how this new sport worked in discussion with Amit they both realised that they would have to give it a try and began to make plans for their first event. It had never occurred to them to wonder why no-one had tried it before.
The Kerala Stragglers were formed, they even had a website, and signs placed in the shop publicising an upcoming event in a new sport – enquire within. Chithra needed some woodland to hold his event in. The western man had mentioned something about woodland but they didn’t have any of that nearby just forest, forest and more forest, dense tropical forest. That would have to do, it was trees after all wasn’t it? His friend at the university geography department, Ranju, could help couldn’t he? He called him up.
“But Chithra,” he exclaimed, “this is India you know we can’t have accurate maps of anywhere, we’d be swamped with law suits and counter claims over all the boundaries. People are very possessive over their knolls and suchlike, it cannot be done.”
Chithra was not to be offput by such minor trifles and using all his powers of persuasion he finally got Ranju to agree that he would draw up a map of the forest to the north of the town. It had many tracks from all the wild animals and this would surely help. Ranju, being a resourceful intellectual type was able to find maps from this new sport on a Swedish website so he had some idea of what was required.
On his next day off Ranju was out in the forest noisily taking measurements and photographs and generally cobbling something together which might possibly be used for rough navigation without upsetting anybody’s boundary claims. One thing he quickly realised was that he would need four shades of blue for swamp, run, walk, fight and swim. He decided that he would give Chithra the map and ‘be out of town’ when the day of the event came. The map wouldn’t quite be what he had been asked for but he was sure it would do, Chithra couldn’t complain that he had done as he had been asked.
Another problem for Chithra were the kites. It was something he still couldn’t work out was why have kites in a forest, surely they would snag on the trees, how could anybody see them from the ground? He knew they had to find them, that was the objective of the sport, the western man had specifically mentioned the tiny surge of excitement when he found the kite. There was no doubt about, they had to have kites. Now he was lucky here because Indians are experts at making kites and not only that, his son, Baburaj, was the best in their neighbourhood at making kites. He won all the competions after all.
“Baburaj, my son, I need your help, I need fifty kites that will fly in the forest, they must be triangular in shape and red and white in colour. Can you do this?”
“Surely, father, it can be done” was his confident reply. Baburaj knew that his father didn’t like bad news and he didn’t like to disappoint his father either so he said it could be done. When he told the boys in the street of the task he had been set they laughed and couldn’t understand why he had been set such a task. Still they relished the prospect of watching Baburaj trying to achieve it. Baburaj prayed for a windy day.
Finally the day of the event came. Chithra was pleased that so many people had come out to try the new sport, he had done a roaring trade in compasses from his shop. They may have been Chinese and marked in some characters that no-one could decipher but everyone agreed that they were fine compasses and they certainly pointed to north. At that price no-one could complain. The westerner had expressed his regret that he could not take part as he had to work but he wished them all luck and assured them that they would enjoy their day.
Baburaj had lived up to his reputation and had hand-crafted fifty red and white triangular kites which fluttered in the lightest of breezes above the tree canopy so that they could be seen from afar and not get tangled in the branches. Unfortunately, because they were not looking down at where they were placing their feet it wasn’t long before competitors began to succumb to snakes. Being home to 57 different varieties of poisonous snakes the forest was bound to claim some of the competitors and today was no different. Stretches of forest such as the one they were running in are becoming scarce in India and are refuges to some of the few remaining big cats. The resident tiger, at first annoyed by the disturbance quickly became accustomed to the novelty of having prey come to him and took advantage of the smorgasbord of local populace presented to him. By the time the tiger had worked out the route of the blue course some competitors didn’t even make it to the second control.
In another cruel twist of fate, the local species of poisonous tree frog were dull red in colour and were attracted to the control punches. Such an abundance of new females in the forest could not go unnoticed and soon every punch had an amorous admirer. Many of the competitors, at first amused by the novel control design with a frog motif, did not realise their mistake in time.
Naxal guerrillas, fearing an invasion of their forest home set up a no-go in the north-western corner of the forest effectively cutting off some of the more remote controls – times would be adjusted accordingly.
They didn’t fare much better on the string course. Indian kite string is extremely fine and all thirty five toddlers and small children who set out on the course failed to return.
Of the hundred or so competitors who set out on the course less than half returned (including those who emerged in neighbouring states vehemently believing that they were still ‘on Ranju’s map’). In view of what happened the organisers decided it was only fair to declare the event a draw, posthumously in many cases. Baburaj declined to collect in the kites. Nobody ever mentioned the sport again, the bars in the town refused to sell the westerner Indian made foreign liquor ever again in case he came up with any more great sporting ideas. They stuck to cricket where you could be sure that the field of play was free of natural hazards/wildlife.
The creatures of the forest couldn’t remember having it so good and coerced one of the monkeys into checking the website on a regular basis to see when the next event in their area would be. Even the tree frogs, broken-hearted from their unrequited love of the control punches and eyes still bulging from being squeezed too hard, agreed that it had been a good day over all.
Experienced SOS orienteer? then registering for an event will hold no terrors for you - or will it? You may meet registration as a competitor, as a helper at Registration or even as a suffering member of disgraced, penniless SOS, drummed from British Orienteering because we were too idle or incompetent to satisfy the requirements of safe practice and the British Orienteering insurance policy.
At a recent SOS event only about 20% of the Registration Forms were correctly completed and correctly checked by Registration. What was the most common error? No, not the ability to spell your own name - we accept your spelling of that. The most common error was that non members, competing as IND(ependent)s, did not provide their home addresses. That is an insurance requirement, in case someone claims, years later, that they broke their leg while trying to vault over the prostrate Planner at the third control on the Blue course and we have no record of their presence. Why should that worry law abiding SOS members like you? Well, if our records are inadequate it will be much more difficult to establish what happened and demonstrate that we did all that we could, and Faults means Fines!
The SOS Registration forms are being modified to make the requirement for an address more obvious, but if you help with Registration please make absolutely sure that if competitors are IND we know their addresses.
The next most common mistake was the failure to provide any safety information at all. The only acceptable reason for providing no vehicle registration number is if you arrived by bicycle, and the form has room for you to write 'Red racing bike' if that is how you reached the event. Did you travel to the event alone? If you don't know the answer to that, at least before your run, then you are not fit to take part! Failure to provide the safety check information shows lack of consideration for your clubmates who have organised the event. If you fall into a swamp and drown it will not be you who will be inconvenienced, it will be them.
Also surprisingly common were Registration forms sent to Download without the course, or the competitor's class, club or BOF number entered. These are no fun for the hard working Download team and at Registration, you can help the smooth running of the event if you ensure that the form is complete in every respect.
How can SOS members help? We are looking for a slogan to encapsulate our campaign for faultlessly completed registration forms - something snappy like 'Hug a hoodie' - so, what do you suggest?
I have been in the role of Publicity Officer for SOS for about a year, having been persuaded that anything I could contribute would be valuable. Due to time constraints, this has not been a great deal, but my main focus has been on publicising events.
Keeping my eye on the fixtures list, I contact the websites of the relevant local media a few weeks in advance of each event. As we hold events all over Essex and Suffolk, I have had to track down some far-flung publications in the hope that they will include a few lines in their “What’s On” guides. All of the newspapers and radio stations have websites that list our events, but make no guarantees that they will publish them in their paper or announce them on the radio. I remember myself many years ago, before I was a member of the club, seeing events publicised in the Essex Chronicle, which attracted me to start orienteering.
I then send a news release a couple of weeks before the event to the local paper, in the hope that they will publish it. Additionally, after the event, I send a news article to the papers, with a photograph when I can. This has had some success, and two of the stories appear below.
My main problem, and I could do with some help from members here, is knowing whether the articles have been published. I eagerly scan the pages of the Essex Chronicle, which is my local paper, but have no way of knowing if anything appears in the Colchester or Maldon papers, for example. I would be really grateful for members to notify me (firstname.lastname@example.org) if they see anything in the papers.
One real success was earlier in the year when KidAround and Primary Times, two magazines aimed at the families of primary school children in Essex, both published an article about orienteering as a great family sport. Following this, our event at Hockley Woods in March was inundated with small children! I have kept these two magazines up to date with our events, which they publicise in their “What’s On” listings. The real hero in these cases is Julie Laver, whose phone number I happily include in these articles, who has to field all the calls from interested people!
Other successes include getting the British Schools championship mentioned on the Chelmsford radio, and establishing a friendly contact at the Gazette in Colchester, who is happy to include our articles where she can.
I would really like members to email me with their orienteering news that I can make a story of and send it to the local papers; if somebody represents the National squad, or wins a competition, for example. Do let me know your orienteering successes, so I can get our sport known.
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