Report by Pauline Tryner (Organiser) and Dom Dakin both who are members of South Yorkshire Orienteers
Graves Park was our second local evening event run under the new COVID guidelines, but the first on council-owned land. The first was an urban sprint held at Sheffield University’s currently empty student halls – The Edge. Permission took a while to sort out, but Sheffield City Council were very helpful and were primarily concerned with ensuring we were following the British Orienteering Guidance. Hopefully it will now be easier to sort future permissions, as we hold lots of events on areas owned by Sheffield City Council.
From an Organiser’s perspective, Graves Park was a very easy place to organise an event under the new guidance. A wide-open space adjacent to a convenient car park allowed plenty of room to socially distance at the two Starts, Finish and Download.
Following the COVID guidance was very straight forward. It takes more work in advance than would normally be required for a local event, but on the night itself I had very little to do. A small team of very willing and capable volunteers helped to run the event, with two on each start (one being a junior to deal with the map boxes), one on download, one ‘meeter & greeter’, and a few helping the planner to control collect.
One of the things that struck me most about both events was how pleased people were to be back orienteering. The grateful comments made by participants certainly made the extra effort involved in organising events now worthwhile.
At the two events we’ve consciously tried out different methods for entries and starts to see what work best. At our first event we used Fabian4, utilising the new feature where competitors can select specific start times. On the day, we had a normal taped ‘box start’. 134 competitors started in a two-hour window - the more challenging orienteering area appealed to more experienced orienteers. For the Graves Park event we tried using our own SYO Entry system that we’ve built on Square Online, a standard free e-commerce site designed for small businesses, and instead asked competitors to select start blocks. We had 94 competitors over two hours from two starts and used a start system where participants queued at stakes spaced 2m apart. Both events were open to British Orienteering members only, so the majority were very used to using Fabian4, but we wanted to test our new system that may be preferable if we start to invite newcomers/non-British Orienteering members back to future events. Both systems worked fine and had their pros and cons.
For both events we had a ‘meeter & greeter’ who gave out information, reminded people of the guidance and provided directions. This worked very well. We had four large (5 litres from PHS) pump-action hand sanitisers available so that people could sanitise their hands before collecting hire dibbers, immediately before the two starts, and after finishing before downloading. This also meant all helpers were never far from a hand sanitiser. One of the things we learnt from the first event was the need to ensure we didn’t have any bunching at download so at Graves Park we put out stakes 2m apart for people to queue at. Most of the time they weren’t needed but there are always occasions when groups of people happen to all finish at once! Due to people hand sanitising immediately before downloading, we did provide printed splits.
The planner, Karl, made a few adjustments to the way he planned; thinking very carefully about the start and finish locations. He also tried to make sure people went the same way round the area so that they didn’t need to pass each other on narrow footpaths.
South Yorkshire Orienteers (SYO) were very keen to hold a couple of low-key events in August to see how they went under the new guidance. Having successfully held these two events we now feel confident we can hold larger events safely once the guidance allows, and have 3 further events planned in September.
Photo credits: Mark Dakin (SYO)
Celebrating the re-start of orienteering.
What activities or events has your club organised? Have you recently attended a re-start event? Was it your second or third? How did you find it?
Maybe you have downloaded a Permanent Orienteering and/or Virtual Orienteering Course and enjoyed it with your family? Or you have recently enjoyed taking part in a local MapRun course or even designed your own MapRun course for members of your club to take part in?
However, you have been taking part in orienteering, share your experiences with others who may not have re-started orienteering at their club yet.
Share your orienteering news and send your snippets, and photos to Jennie Taylor Communications Officer.
To view the current British Orienteering Guidance visit: