Jennie Taylor Communications Officer caught up with Northern Ireland Orienteering Association Secretary and active Lagan Valley Orienteers member, Stephen Gilmore.
Stephen Gilmore says: “You may have heard of ‘Beat the Street’ which came to the greater Belfast area last autumn. It’s now back again this year and Lagan Valley Orienteers have formed a partnership with Beat the Street to encourage active participation with a grant from Active Belfast.”
Please tell us, Stephen, what is ‘Beat the Street’?
Stephen continues: “It could be best described to an orienteer as a gigantic semi-permanent urban score course with electronic punching.
Gigantic refers to the game area which covers most of Belfast and stretches out to Lisburn, Newtownabbey and Holywood.
It is a semi-permanent course and the controls are out for a 7 week period between Wednesday 13 September and Wednesday 1 November 2017.
It is a score course with around 400 controls which are placed in the urban environment. You can start and finish at any control. The first control does not count, but every control you visit thereafter is worth 10 points each.
Electronic punching is used but not SI or Emit. Credit card sized Beat the Street cards are freely available from Leisure Centres, Libraries and Tesco along with free Beat the Street maps. These are also being distributed to schools in the area and Lagan Valley Orienteers have a stock. The controls are about the size of a shoe box, mounted mostly on lampposts. When the card is touched against the control it beeps, or burps or makes another rude noise which kids love! The boxes are linked to the internet so that the visit is recorded on-line within seconds.”
This all sounds great! How are Lagan Valley Orienteers linking in with Beat the Street?
Stephen explains: “Okay, so Lagan Valley Orienteers are linking with Beat the Street in a number of ways.
Beat the Street can, of course, be used for an individual personal training challenge to visit every control.
When you register your Beat the Street card you basically select your school or organisation. Lagan Valley Orienteers is also listed as an organisation to choose and this lets the score be added to the club’s total. You can then see all the scores and how you fare in the overall league table.
Beat the Street will promote the Wednesday Evening Events (WEE) Series and in turn as the WEE Series progresses Lagan Valley Orienteers will promote Beat the Street.”
I understand that Lagan Valley Orienteers will be running informal orienteering activities on Sunday afternoons for a number of weeks, starting this Sunday?
“Yes, during the challenge Lagan Valley Orienteers will be providing informal score activities on Sunday afternoons from the 17 September through to 28 October each starting at 3.00pm. These activities will be held from a suitable point such as a café. Organisers are still needed for these activities. This is generally an easy role which requires hardly any orienteering experience and involves simply choosing a café in an area which can be surrounded by controls. Importantly also making sure the management are happy to host the activity, of course! The Organiser will then begin the score activity by giving a friendly briefing to everyone participating prior to them setting off in a mass start. Initially, the Beat the Street maps will be used. However, towards the end of the time, we would like to be using orienteering maps with the Beat the Street controls marked accurately on them.
From Sunday 5 November Lagan Valley Orienteers plan to continue with the momentum we have already built up. We are hoping to use urban orienteering maps with a similar score format. However, following a recent demonstration in Lisburn, we have been shown an easier way to have an urban score activity without using SI. This alternative way has a question with a multiple choice answer at each control site. For example, when arriving at the control participants will be faced with a question to answer. The question could be something like: ‘What’s the number displayed on the lamp post at this control?’ The participant will have to choose the correct answer from the multiple choice list of answers. For example, multiple choice answers could be listed as being: a) 12, b) 16 or c) 24. The participant will then choose the answer and then move to the next control on the map.
One other thing I would like to highlight if I can is that I am personally delighted that Lagan Valley Orienteers have been awarded a grant for additional urban mapping and coaching to supplement their existing map of Belfast. The mapping team is currently working on an area of North Belfast and soon will move to cover an area of East Belfast.”
Thank you Stephen – this all sounds great! Best wishes to you and all Lagan Valley Orienteers as you roll out these orienteering activities over the next weeks.
The challenge continues and takes place over the next 7 weeks through to Wednesday 1 November 2017.
The Beat the Street website is now LIVE and you can find out more details and how to get involved here.
Juls Hanvey Northern Ireland Active Clubs Officer says: “We are really excited to kick off this project making orienteering accessible to so many. Looking forward to watching it grow and change into the autumn and the lead up to our North and East Belfast Community Orienteering Hubs after the Beat the Street challenge.”