Report by Alison Wright Publicity Officer at Lincoln Orienteering Group
Will it be the last traditional O event of the year?
#covid19 #adaptingtochange #orienteeringlife
Please note: this event took place before new lockdown measures came into force in England at 00.01 on Thursday 5 November 2020.
British Orienteering, at the start of the year, held a development conference focused on increasing both membership across the age brackets as well as general participation. The closing thought was that each club had a responsibility to do ‘something’ and to figure out where on the following spectrum they were:
Little did we know that we were about to enter a pandemic, and our focus would be more centred around ‘survival’ full stop.
I am extremely proud of the way Lincoln OG has performed and the ability of the club to adapt and meet the targets set by British Orienteering, at January’s conference. I will be honest: had we not entered a pandemic where people’s lifestyles have changed, where team sport was diminished and restricted, and other time pressures on people’s lives being reduced, I am not sure we would have been as successful. We have managed to utilise the situation we have found ourselves in, and as Einstein would say ‘in the middle of difficulty we have found opportunity’.
At the start of the pandemic, whilst in our socially distanced burrows, we kept our links between club members open by replacing our weekly training night with a Zoom ‘Pub & Quiz” night where members were encouraged to keep their activity levels up via a series of challenges using the Strava club function, as well as our usual ‘ LOG banter’ WhatsApp group. We even did a LOG socially distanced relay around the county passing through various mapped areas with over 30 members taking part. Committee meetings continued to run via Zoom and plans were made to ensure access; planners, controllers, organisers were sought for upcoming events, and any changes necessary were made to the calendar. A risk assessment was completed on managing risk of transmission should events be allowed to continue and as challenges arose these were problem solved by the committee. By the time British Orienteering guidelines were disseminated and the government green light was given, we were prepared to push on and start our jointly run Lincolnshire Urban Summer Series with our friendly rivals and neighbours HALO. This was hugely successful, and participation was increased significantly on recent years. We went on to host our annual Lincoln City race, which again was well received, and despite the purposeful lack of publicity surrounding these events (so not to encourage travel), numbers again were good. It is fundamental to exercise both the mind and body. These are evidenced as being significant factors in reducing the risk of Covid19.
We were restricted on numbers at our Woodhall Spa East Midlands Urban league event to 100 competitors and due to surrounding areas being placed into Tier 3, we had some cancellations in the week running up to the event. It is the responsibility of the competitor to ensure they are ‘fit’ to attend an event and the disclaimer formed part of the online registration form. As a committee, we previously had veered away from pre-registration and event payment due to costs involved and deemed it unnecessary. In the light of Covid19, we have found the SI entries system has proven to not only help take away the need to handle cash and providing socially distanced start times, but it also provides map numbers which saves printing costs, and allows us to send updates to competitors prior to the event. For those that decided not to attend, they were refunded, and their places became available. The event closed with 98 competitors taking part on the day. Despite being a small club, we have a strong contingent of ‘helpers’ who were identified prior to the event and assigned roles. Helpers were advised to maintain social distancing and start/ finish/ download/ base tent/ car park/ toilets were set up to allow adequate spacing and encourage competitors to run and go. The usual huddle at download was discouraged with no results screen set up, and print out given with a QR code to take you electronically to the live results page. Competitors behaved responsibly, abided by the guidelines set and were relieved to be able to get out on what turned into a beautiful sunny autumnal day and orienteer.
It was great to see faces from our orienteering family in the flesh, albeit at a distance. It felt sociable and safe due to the adaptations we had made. As much as we’ve enjoyed Strava challenges/ VOC/ zoom calls as it has shown that there is more to our orienteering than running between circles on a map, it’s the connection with the people as much as the sport itself that we have missed.Thanks to Craig Lucas for planning, Pete Harris from Humberside and Lincoln Orienteers (HALO) for controlling, Amanda Roberts and Trudy Crosby for organising, LOG Committee for ensuring it went ahead, and all the helpers that made the day run smoothly. Craig certainly caught a few people out with the uncrossable gate at the last control as you can see in the photographs.
This has been an active and successful year for Lincoln Orienteering Group, and we have taken on board British Orienteering’s ‘do something’ task and have performed. We even have managed to pick up a few new faces, retain last year’s recruits, kept current membership involved, and had some returners to the sport. Orienteering has the ability to survive well in this new world in which we are living, and we need to ensure that we safeguard it for the future by harnessing the opportunity we have to show it off whilst we have the chance.
Please note: Woodhall Spa event took place before the new measures came into force across England at 00:01 on 5 November 2020.
The full statement can be found here.
The latest Orienteering guidance for the whole of the UK can be found here.