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Tweet Friday 23rd June 2017

British Orienteering supporting Women in Sport Week

19-25 June 2017

Photos above (left to right):
Charlotte Ward from Humberside and Lincoln Orienteers (Photo credit: ActivNorth Photography).
Fiona Bunn from Thames Valley Orienteering Club (Photo credit: ActivNorth Photography).
Alice Leake from Southern Navigators (Photo credit: Rob Lines).

Above photo:  Clubs competing in a Women's Relay orienteering event.  (Photo credit:  Rob Lines)

In support of Women in Sport Week - here are two testimonials from two women who have got involved with the sport of orienteering.


A busy Mum of two boys aged 9 and 6 years old living in Sheffield, Susan tells of how she took up the sport of orienteering.

Susan’s Story...

“I am a busy Mum with two boys aged 9 and 6 years old. We live in Sheffield and are members of South Yorkshire Orienteers.

Both boys regularly compete and take part in coaching sessions run by South Yorkshire Orienteers.

Pre children I used to go to the gym at least twice a week and occasionally played badminton with friends. Having children has changed my participation in sport. I no longer have the time or the finances to pay for the gym on the ad hoc basis that it would happen. I do enjoy exercising but it never is a top priority as a result of work and family life.

I discovered the sport of orienteering when I attended a small school in West Cumbria who had a teacher who regularly competed so I started at the aged 10. My first orienteering experiences were when the school teacher would take small groups of us to the local permanent orienteering courses at Whinlatter, Grizedale and Ennerdale and coach us. Those of us who were enthusiastic would then take part in the Cumbrian Gallopen and local club events run by West Cumberland Orienteering Club, Lakeland Orienteering Club and Border Liners orienteering Club.

We would go out in pairs and on our own, it was always an adventure and gave us all a great sense of freedom and independence. We competed in the Cumbrian Schools Championships and as a very small school had a lot of success in a 5 year period.

I gave up orienteering at 13 years old as my next school did not participate and my parents were less willing to drive around Cumbria to take me to events, instead I played Hockey and went fell walking.

In 2014, I then took the boys to the Longshaw Estate National Trust; Derwent Valley Orienteers were running a ‘come and try it’ event in the summer holidays. The boys were 6 and 3 at the time and we toddled round the course they seemed to enjoy it. From that event we then went to the South Yorkshire Orienteering Schools league event and then the Midlands Championships also at Longshaw. By the Christmas my eldest and I were members of South Yorkshire Orienteering Club.

It gets us out and about; we head out orienteering whatever the weather and in the boy’s case the muddier it is the more fun it is. I am exercising without paying attention to the miles I have done or how fast I have done it’s just the challenge and enjoyment of getting round the course. It also helps clear the mind and most of the time you are in new areas you have never been to before and would like to explore again. I am unlikely to come first, as I did as a child, but completing the course successfully with few errors and not being the last is my motivation.

The Jan Kjellstrom International Festival of Orienteering is held in different parts of the UK each year. I have participated in the event at Ulpha Fell in the Lake District. I was trying to keep an eye on my son. I lost him at one point as he is far faster at running than I am but I found him eventually! I got round at the Northern Championships this year and I competed in the British Long Championships in May this year. All of which I have the mantra just to get round and complete the course.

I love this sport for the challenge, I am not a natural runner at all, but that doesn’t matter. The art of reading a map is easily learned at a local club. You really don’t need to do the most technical courses to be successful. Getting out in the countryside be it open fell, woodland, moor or parklands makes you feel so much more happier and stress free. Plus it is a family friendly activity that you can all do your course and escape life’s pressures.”

Photo above:  JK International Festival of Orienteering Event at Lancaster University (Photo credit: Rob Lines)



As a busy Mum of 3 children Jacky from Sheffield tells of how she took up the sport of orienteering.

Jacky’s Story...

“Two of my children orienteer. Although I did a variety of sports when I was younger, once I started working I didn't do any regular sport. I was very busy looking after my young children and didn't do any sport.

I enjoy exercise provided I don't realise that I'm doing it!

My son had been introduced to an orienteering taster session at school and then encouraged me and my daughter to go along to some after-school sessions run by South Yorkshire Orienteers. I only went because I had to accompany my son and it was a flat fee per family.

I only started orienteering myself because I had to accompany my son and daughter to events and got bored standing on the side lines. I don't specifically remember the first experience. However I do recall mud and bogs and realising that white trainers weren't useful! Proper sturdy shoes with grip were needed.

I have now been orienteering for 6 years and I am a member of South Yorkshire Orienteers.

The benefits I feel I have found from taking up orienteering is that I actually 'run'. I love going out on my own in unknown terrain and finding my way back to the finish.

I still feel nervous at the start of a big race - despite the fact that I'm never going to do that well, so on the face of it there's nothing to lose. But in a way, the adrenaline rush is all part of it. When I am orienteering I feel fantastic! There's nothing else which would induce me to set off for 5km and slog over physical terrain and I love the mental challenge.

I've already become an orienteering coach and have great satisfaction in seeing improvement in young teenage girls and boys.

I have now competed in various regional or national British Orienteering Major Events, such as the Jan Kjellstrom International Festival of Orienteering and the British Champions. I have also taken part in the British Nights and have enjoyed orienteering in the dark with a head torch! I didn’t do that well, but happy with my results, although there is plenty of room for improvement.

The fantastic thing about orienteering is that it truly is a 'mind and body workout'. So, you don't have to be the fastest, but you have to think. It's great to get a bit of time entirely to yourself, and just challenge yourself. Even if you are the last in the race, if it's an improvement on the previous race, then that is success. In orienteering you can set your own challenge.”

Photos above: Left:  Jacky enjoying taking part in orienteering (Photo source: J. Dakin).  Right:  An orienteering control point (Photo: British Orienteering).


British Orienteering is celebrating its Golden Jubilee this year, 50 years as a Federation!

With the 50 year celebrations underway it is certainly a good time to take a closer look at the sport of orienteering. Most orienteering takes place in forests or moorland often in stunning scenery. However there are now several city-based orienteering courses too. There are many permanent orienteering courses installed around the country and local orienteering clubs across the UK. 

Find out ways in which you can enjoy this sport and go orienteering here.