This weekend members of the GB Talent Squad continue their preparation for the 2019 season by attending the squad camp in the Surrey Hills. On Friday evening 19 athletes met up at the Juniper Hill centre, in the shadows of Box Hill, to build on the base from previous camps and their winter training.
The weekend is set up to further develop individual skills, to give time for detailed personal discussions with coaches and medical staff, and to familiarise themselves with terrain similar to that of their selection races at the JK.
On Friday evening they were able to review the experiences and lessons from the pre- Christmas Lake District camp and set themselves up for the exercises of the weekend.
They spent Saturday at Winterfold with sessions focusing on route choice and map memory.
In the morning they were faced with a pairs route choice exercise in which each chose a different route and then saw who arrived at the control first. Given the terrain, this was often a choice of straight or around to avoid climb and contours or, as they soon found out, some patches of quite difficult and potentially slow forest.
Following a change to dry clothes and some lunch they then had a separate pairs exercise that tested map memory over some complex and variable legs. Again, straight or longer path and attack point choices were on offer.
During both sessions, the pairs were shadowed for part of their runs by one of the five volunteer coaches.
This meant that as well as their GPS tracking the squad athletes were able to review and analyse not just where they went but how they tackled to challenges of the legs.
Showered and refreshed the athletes then had to opportunity to individually review their day, their activities and also their current and planned training programmes with one of the coaches. They were also able to discuss any injury or remedial exercises and general conditioning with trained medical and physiotherapy staff.
Today, Sunday, they will travel to the University of Sussex for some sprint training.
Over the past few months, Club Matters have released some great videos and podcasts on a range of topics such as:
This year Club Matters are looking to build a content plan for the next 5 -10 months that will look to provide great advice and guidance for clubs across the country. As part of this, they would like to support British Orienteering and Orienteering Clubs more and see where there are further opportunities for sharing across all of our platforms.
The structure of the content plan is hoped to be shared later in January. If your club has any plans across the year for club development or campaigns then please get in touch.
Do you have a topic you would like them to discuss in their new videos or podcasts? If so, please email: SportEngland@freuds.com using the subject ‘Club Matters podcast’.
Alternatively, you can tweet your interest @ClubMatters or contact them via their facebook page @
If you wish to discuss anything about the above and development of your club email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you to both Andrew Evans, Dartford Orienteering Klub (DFOK) and Allison Page, DFOK Club Coach who both met with a feature writer and photographer from the Woodland Trust Head Office in Grantham. The reporter has written up the article about her experience of orienteering.
The article appeared in the winter issue of The Woodland Trust's Broadleaf Member Magazine – and has been distributed to their 200,000 members.
The Woodland Trust have kindly given British Orienteering permission to reproduce the whole article and to share with a wider audience.
Photos credited: The Woodland Trust
HEAVY FOOTSTEPS pound the hill behind me. I turn and glimpse a figure moving among the silvery trunks. My breath comes in sharp bursts, my heart hammers, and overhead a jay unleashes an ungodly cackle.
But this isn’t the start of a John Grisham thriller, this is orienteering – and time is of the essence. I’ve come to Joyden’s Wood in Kent, just 13 miles from London to sample a sport that’s the perfect cocktail of woodland exploration, physical agility and mental acumen. And yes, orienteering is indeed a sport, and not just the casual saunter I’d always assumed. At my heels is my mentor for the day, maestro of the map Andrew Evans. “You’re faster than me!” Andrew laughs as we crest the hill and weave between the Corsican pines towering above. A carpet of needles deadens the air, and coal tits squabble like children in the branches. “But I’m lost, and you’re not,” I shoot back. And this is the crux of orienteering. Racing with gusto may gladden the heart, but have I been paying attention to the minutiae of the terrain around me? Can I orient the map accurately to sniff out the next staging post? And most importantly, have I got the faintest idea where I am? Luckily Joyden’s Wood is a brilliant place to get lost, its warren of forest rides tangling delectably through a mosaic of ancient broadleaf and mature pine. This is a wood with history: it’s got medieval wood banks and scraps of Iron Age dwellings half-buried in the undergrowth. Much was replanted with conifers after the war, but 30 years of tender Woodland Trust husbandry have eased it back to health, and nowadays treecreepers and nuthatches scale trunks in search of insects, marauding redwings and fieldfares forage for berries, and dormice, wolf spiders and wood ants scuttle in the leaf litter. For the wood’s human visitors, Joyden’s new orienteering course offers a fast route to total immersion. Dartford Orienteering Klubb helped the Trust install the 2km network of midget markerposts earlier this year, and my own crash course began 40 minutes ago with a tutorial from club chairman Andrew and coach Allison Page. They handed me map and compass and explained the basic idea: to plot a route that gets you from A to B in the quickest, cleanest manner. The more fragile bits of habitat are off limits, and direct-line travel is often blocked by areas of ‘forest fight’ – code for no-go unless you have a machete and a will of steel. So as I’m quick to learn, orienteering is about watching the map and tracking your surroundings as you run This, it turns out, is where I struggle. “Look at the contours and where the post is marked,” says Andrew, sensing my disorientation. I realise my mistake.
The post I’m seeking isn’t atop the hill as I’d assumed, but just over the brow – away from direct line of sight. Apparently, these navigational nuances become second nature to a hardened orienteer. We race on, shouting out features to help keep us oriented. “Left at the T-junction” I yell, feeling like a navigator in a road rally. “Vegetation change!” We plunge downhill and burst suddenly from the muffled quiet of the pines into the joyful vibrancy of native broadleaf trees again. A blackbird is shunting leaves in the undergrowth, entirely unconcerned as we speed past. Shafts of low winter sunlight dance at our feet. “This is what it’s all about!” says Andrew with a broad grin, spreading his arms wide. His exuberant love of this place is infectious. We notch up another post and then run blinking into the glare of a sandy glade. Dense gorse and buddleia forms a thicket around us. Forest Fight! Andrew points into the greenery: “Somewhere under there are the remnants of an Iron Age roundhouse. And that huge ditch is called Faesten Dic. It was built by the local Saxons to keep out the Londoners!” This must be the most breathless guided tour I’ve ever had – it feels like speed-dating with a wood. “Post!” I yell suddenly as it looms from the brush. I’ve learnt my lesson by now, and have been mentally ticking off features as we pass. I think I’m getting the hang of this. A stretch of wide forest track gives me a chance to quiz Andrew about orienteering culture. “The sport is really easy to take part in,” he says. “All you need is a compass, trainers and a downloaded map. We have people aged from eight to 80 competing at our club, and we run lots of family events.” Standard orienteering pace, he tells me, is about 1km every ten minutes. I glance at my watch. We haven’t quite cracked it, but I don’t mind. Today was more about exploring the hidden corners of this beautiful place. Ahead of us, a mammoth oak splits the path in two, fat-bellied and glorious. I spot ropes hanging from its limbs and wonder about the children who’ve clambered there. This queen of the forest has seen some adventures in her time, and we pause briefly so she can share in ours. Then, all at once, our race is run. I don’t know whether to hug the post or high-five Andrew, but I’ve loved every minute of our adrenaline-fuelled quest. Orienteering is a unique way of exploring the great outdoors, and I can’t wait to give it another go.
Orienteering oracle Andrew Evans keeps you on course:
NOW HAVE A GO
Orienteering isn’t just about racing: it can add variety to a family walk or spice up your woodland jog. You’ll find links to courses and events at britishorienteering.org.uk/goorienteering. The map for Joyden’s Wood can be downloaded free at dfok.co.uk/permanent, and other Woodland Trust woods with permanent courses include Hainault Forest in Essex, Martinshaw in Leicestershire, Elemore Woods and Low Burnhall in Durham and
Carnmoney Hill, County Antrim.
This is a great article! British Orienteering would like to take this opportunity to thank both Andrew Evans (DFOK) and Allison Page (DFOK) for their work involved in generating this fantastic article. Special thanks must also go to The Woodland Trust in raising the profile of the sport of orienteering with their 200,000 members.
Does your club have Permanent Orienteering Courses on any Woodland Trust sites?
There may perhaps be an opportunity for you to engage with the Woodland Trust and put on some future orienteering activities.
Today's final race of the JEC 2018 programme was one filled with controversy and, unfortunately, was not the finale the race organisers nor the competitors would have wanted.
The day started brightly, with the M20's and W20's rolling out in a mass start on the first of their three loops high up on the Col de Bretaye and into the alpine meadows, where fast running across the open land was mixed with tricky patches of highly technical orienteering, set to catch-out the unwary. This one-man relay format was working well, as the leaders of the two classes came through, closely followed by strong running packs in some exciting head-to-head racing, and gradually the gaffling began to unfold. In the men's class, Eddie Narbett and Tom Lines were in touching distance and around the top twenty placings, and it was a shame that Freddie Carcas had not recovered from his knee injury sustained the previous day and, instead, had to take up a spectator's position to cheer his team-mates on. In the women's race, the GB trio of Lindsay Robertson, Emma Wilson and Laura King all came through just off the front group, with only Fiona Bunn detached from the pack after missing on controls 3 and 4 and it was not to be her day after two great races over the weekend.
Soon, the 20's were joined by the mass start of the M and W18 classes and the arena became a frantic scramble of maps and runners coming through at increasingly shorter intervals. Daniel Spencer and Alastair Thomas were both in contention after one loop, with David Bunn not too far back from this group, but a hobbling Alastair Thomas returned a short while later, having twisted his ankle and dropped out of the race. The W18's first of two loops also saw Tara Schwarze-Chintapatla, Niamh Hunter and Anika Schwarze-Chintapatla come through with the leaders and the race was looking good for all three. Eilidh Campbell then emerged to complete the quartet and they all began their final loop, before heading down towards the finish.
It was then that the drama began to unfold, with three of the top M20's running down through the start arena, across the tapes and past the spectators, to begin their descent on the track towards the finish. It appeared strange to the crowd that this would be the optimal route and a worried planner and controller made their way swiftly out of the start area. It became apparent, quite quickly, that all was not well. As the runners and coaching staff arrived back at the finish, the arena was alive to rumours of multiple OOB transgressions and possible disqualification of many of the top competitors and it was not long before a jury had been called, with team leaders in attendance, to debate the outcome. On the maps, there were patches of OOB that crossed the main track and this had led to confusion and a lack of clarity on whether the road was passable or not and this, being the fastest route, meant many of the race leaders had taken this and were now faced with disqualification. The jury took time to debate the issue and, having considered all the available options, decided that the fairest result was to finish the race at the last radio control, before the controversial long leg.
Overall, an unsatisfactory end to what had otherwise been an enjoyable JEC, but this should not distract from several stand-out GB performances on the day. In the W18 class, Tara Schwarze-Chintapatla and Niamh Hunter recorded 9th and 10th places respectively, Laura King (17th) was the best-placed W20, with Emma Wilson in 21st not far behind her. Tom Lines (21st) was the best M20, with Eddie Narbett (29th) also holding onto a top 30 place. The rest of the team saw Daniel Spencer (32nd), David Bunn (54th), Fiona Bunn (33rd) and Eilidh Campbell (48th) in their respective classes, with Lindsay Robertson and Anika Schwarze-Chintapatla both unfortunately miss-punching.
Full results are available here.
The team now head back from Geneva to rest their weary and battered bodies and reflect on a long domestic and international racing programme, before they begin to make their plans for an assault on the 2018/19 season.