British Orienteering Chair 1989-92 and known widely in the orienteering world at large as the ‘Mother of TrailO’, Anne Braggins passed away peacefully in her home on 27 November.
Anne once said that she’d been put off from Orienteering for years by the energetic descriptions of it by a friend. She was finally introduced to the sport in autumn 1975, as a result of an ‘explorers’ talk by Hally Hardie, West Anglian OC, and an event a couple of weeks later. That led in due course to Anne and her family competing in the White Rose Weekend in 1976 and then Highland '77.
She started taking on officials’ roles quite quickly; she helped organise the 1981 Midlands Championships, helped form a schools’ league run jointly by WAOC and Happy Herts, filled most of the posts in the East Anglian Orienteering Association, and was Coordinator of JK 1986 held in East Anglia. Following this event, she was named as the person “making the most outstanding individual organisational contribution to sport in the Eastern Region” at the annual Service to Sport awards of the Eastern Region Sports Council.
Anne was elected Vice-Chair of the British Orienteering Federation in 1987, but her time in this role was only 2 years after the new Chair, Roger Lott was posted abroad in his job and former Chair Clive Allen held the fort for a period. Anne was Chair of British Orienteering Federation from 1989 until 1992, a period of considerable activity with the introduction of a radical new levy scheme, issues with land access connected with environmental concerns, and reviews of National Office staffing and the membership structure. A highlight, organised by Anne together with David Peregrine, was the 15th International Orienteering Federation Congress held in New Hall, Cambridge in July 1990, with 26 nations represented. Anne and her management team were also able to negotiate continued long-term sponsorship for British Orienteering from TSB Life, which included a smart 40-page ‘Orienteers’ Handbook’ in 1991 distributed to all members.
Anne was introduced to Orienteering for handicapped people in 1989 at the World Orienteering Championships in Sweden. At that time, the then Minister for Sport Colin Moynihan was suggesting that all Governing Bodies should provide for disabled people in their sport. Sponsored research into the development of Orienteering in the UK for handicapped people supported Anne in going to study and take part in ‘handicapped orienteering’ at the 1990 Swedish O-Ringen. After her report back, the British Orienteering Federation got a grant to get started, and in April 1991 Anne used her ‘View from the Chair’ text in CompassSport to set the scene for the new discipline known as TrailO. A steering committee was formed with representatives from the disabled community as well as British Orienteering Federation clubs.
Anne put tremendous efforts into starting TrailO in the UK, and together with Tom Renfrew she was successful in getting a grant of £25,000 from the Foundation for Sport and Arts for a 2-year research and development programme, including the creation of permanent courses. The equipment purchased with the grant is still used at major UK events. In 1993 she wrote ‘Trail Orienteering - a comprehensive practical manual’, 64 pages A4 with many illustrations and coloured maps, published by Harveys. She was the first Chair of the British Orienteering Federation TrailO Group when it was formed in 1993, and continued in this role until 2006; she remained a member until stepping down in 2017. She was voluntary Team Manager of the Great Britain TrailO team for over 20 years.
In 2017 British Orienteering presented a special certificate to Anne, recognising her long-standing commitment and dedication to orienteering.
At the beginning of the 90’s Anne was getting more involved in the international TrailO scene too. She took the Chair of an IOF TrailO Steering Group in 1993, and continued as Chair when it became a Committee and then morphed into a Commission, finally retiring from this post in 2010. For her work in developing TrailO internationally, she was awarded the prestigious IOF Silver Pin in 1998. The inaugural World Cup in TrailO was held in Scotland in conjunction with the 1999 World Orienteering Championships.
Both in Britain and internationally, Anne was always strongly supported by her husband Don, who provided his own significant input as an IT specialist. He once famously commented, at a TrailO World Championships (WTOC) banquet, that "the majority of people in this room are here because of your input." One of Anne’s happiest moments was handing the gold medal to Dave Gittus when he won it at WTOC 2006.
Anne had a very sharp mind when it came to planning the way forward for the new IOF discipline of TrailO to make it into one with clear and unambiguous rules, fair to all participants, and requiring skill levels at least the equal of other Orienteering disciplines. She envisaged a top-quality sport that would attract both handicapped and non-handicapped orienteers from nations throughout the world, and to achieve her vision, she was involved in considerable negotiation with others with alternative views on how things should be done, especially in Sweden. But she battled on, and eventually got her way on most issues. Many countries began TrailO as a result of her efforts, and this led to the first World TrailO Championships taking place in Sweden in 2004. She did as much if not more work outside the committee room and one of her greatest achievements was to organise a very successful WTOC in Scotland in 2012, an event that included the first (unofficial) WTOC TempO competition.
Anne had a quite outstanding missionary zeal, which meant that very many capable people all over the world were carried away by her enthusiasm and contributed valuably to the cause. One such was Brian Parker, who contributed by writing a comprehensive manual on course planning at an elite level for use internationally. Anne has also always been a great communicator, in this case doing her utmost to make the world aware of what was going on. For example, a 3-page spread ‘TrailO blazes new trails’ in a 1993 edition of the IOF magazine Orienteering World gave a really clear explanation of this new discipline, together with a map example and notes of developments in Portugal, Belgium, Sweden, and Great Britain. Updates on technical progress and TrailO’s spread around the world appeared regularly in the Orienteering press from then on. International TrailO clinics, initially at the Swedish O-Ringen, started in 1994. She worked very hard to get TrailO better known in the handicapped communities both in the UK and abroad, but at the same time, she was rigorous in applying rules that ensured that a clear definition of ‘handicapped’ was applied to participation in the Para class in TrailO events.
Anne’s legacy is a thriving sports discipline, now further developed worldwide with speed and relay formats and very popular ‘virtual’ competitions online. She contributed significantly to British Orienteering Federation’s development leading up to its Silver Jubilee in 1992 but will be remembered best for her quite remarkable achievements in bringing TrailO up from almost nothing to the sophisticated sport it is today. RIP
The tribute for Anne was written by Clive Allen in consultation with Dick Keighley and Brian Parker.
The RISING STAR AWARD has been awarded to RUBEN RAZZETTI member of the Border Liners Orienteering Club.
The announcement has been made on the Active Cumbria Facebook page.
Ruben is making great strides in the world of Orienteering. A Border Liners Club member, he has won numerous races during the year across all parts of Cumbria. He was also selected to attend a 3-day Badaguish summer training camp by his Governing Body, as well as being selected to join the GB Talent North Squad.
British Orienteering is interested to hear of any other awards clubs and their members have received in recognition. Email: email@example.com
Report by Pat Macleod, British Nights Orienteering Championships Organiser
Sadly the 2021 British Night Champions will only get to keep their trophies for a few months, but after much frustration and Covid induced delay, not even storm Arwen managed to stop us finally staging what proved, I think, to most people, a thoroughly challenging but enjoyable event. I did wonder as I drove up from a snow-free Forest of Dean whether we'd get away with it when I saw snow blanketed Cleeve Hill, but with the help of the Cleeve Common Ranger, the golf club, the Cotswold Way cafe, and of course an army of willing helpers, get away with it we did.
The last comment from the Organiser; the volunteer team was outstanding. We had two ladies, both on the start, neither of them club members, one an occasional orienteer and maprunner, the other newly moved into our patch from Northern Ireland, yet to join us, who along with all the other start team people stood cheerfully steering runners through the process, then stripped down the start and carried it all back down the hill to the van. Never a complaint, always a smile, always a willing hand to do whatever was asked of them. North Gloucestershire Orienteering Club (NGOC) may not be a high-profile club in the orienteering rankings, but we have as good a bunch of volunteers as you could find anywhere, and in the end, all credit for the success of BNOC 2021 belongs to them.
Finally, feedback from runners has been all positive.
Photo credits: North Gloucestershire Orienteering Club
British Orienteering would like to thank Pat Macleod, British Nights Orienteering Championships Organiser, and all members of North Gloucestershire Orienteering Club for your hard work and determination in making this night event finally happen. Some very challenging conditions and as one competitor comments "definitely an awesome event to remember".
Congratulations to all British Orienteering Night Champions crowned in their individual age categories.
Preliminary results are available here.
Save the date!
Plans for the British Orienteering Night Championships 2022 are already well underway. The event is to be held on Ilkley Moor and is being hosted by Airienteers (AIRE) on 19 February 2022, it is followed the next day by a National Event and UK Orienteering League (UKOL) on Burley and Ilkley Moor. Entries are due to open very soon.
To find out more details are available here.
Important to please note: Renew your membership in plenty of time to ensure that you take advantage of the early closing date fees for the Major Events taking place in the early part of 2022.
By Duncan Bayliss, Wrekin Orienteers
Can you really do orienteering from your sofa? Well, during the current shut down of orienteering in the UK there is some good news that there is a surprising amount of orienteering fun to be had online. There are several orienteering games you can purchase such as Virtual O featured in this video clip with Simone Niggli, and there is a wealth of other free orienteering fun to be had too.
Simone Niggli playing Virtual O link to video: https://youtu.be/ERtiH-p3MIs
Orienteering calls itself the “Thought Sport” and it really is true. Knowledge, experience and skills development do count for a lot. We have had a number of notable orienteers in the UK who even as they got older kept beating much faster and younger competitors. It means that it is always worth working on the thinking part of the sport and Trail-O has shown that there is great challenge in navigation and map reading independent of running speed. Fortunately, there are many ways you can do some orienteering practice without stepping outdoors.
When compiling material for the orienteering skills website Better Orienteering, I was surprised to find how much there is to enjoy online, I hadn’t paid much attention to it before. You can while away many absorbing hours on activities that develop your skills or are just fun.
There are a series of convenient links on Better Orienteering under the websites and resources section that can take you to some here.
Planning routes on World of O - Route to Christmas series and Route to O - Season 2020
This is my favourite free online orienteering activity.
The Route to Christmas series has been running for some years and is a great way to practice route planning. Once I started, I was hooked and ended up working through all the back catalogue of routes from previous years. Legs from great courses throughout the year are made available in a series in December to “solve”. There is also currently a Route to O - Season 2020 series too.
You get to see the leg without any routes on first then can add your own route if you wish, and finally you can see where actual competitors. There is analysis of where they gained and where they lost time. It’s a great way to learn from the best. The series include a selection of legs from forest and urban races to work on. If you Google Route to Christmas 2018 (or 2014) it will take you into the vast World of O website.
We have had many family debates about the relative merits of routes and whether we would be actually be able to follow them. Sometimes I’ve looked at a leg and it feels like an age as I work out how on earth would I tackle it.
Jan Kocbach has done an amazing job with World of O and there is much more to explore there, I get lost in it for hours. The ongoing route analysis of World Cup races is fascinating too. Find out more here.
The link to the World of O Route to Christmas example shown below can be found here.
The same leg where competitors’ routes have been added can be found here.
Find out more here.
Route to O- Season 2020 example
The link to the World of O map of Day 1 Route to O-Season 2020 can be found here.
The link to the Route to O-Season 2020 series Day 1 webpage is available here.
Try a virtual run with an elite/ good orienteer. Headcam videos of elite competitors can give an interesting insight into the process of orienteering at a high level. You can follow the route on the map as well as seeing the video of the terrain from the runner’s perspective.
Here is just one example. Ivan Sirakov has posted a series of Head Cam videos with map inserts, on terrain around the world, in a series called ‘Analyse my Orienteering’.
Link to video here.
If you really want to do the full simulation, you can potentially find a map and course on World of O maps first here.
You could “solve” the route choices, then watch a competitor’s video for how they did it and re-evaluate your routes and / or skills and think about your ability to follow those routes you so confidently planned when just looking at the map!
These have been featured in the British Orienteering press before but are well worth a look if you don’t know them.
The Forest (free)
Probably the hardest but most important skill in orienteering is visualisation. The map needs to become a 3D reality in your mind. The Forest, developed by Graham Relf, a UK orienteer, is a way to practice this and develop your ability to see the shape of the land from the map in front of you. The Forest is free and does not require installation, it runs in your browser (PC, Android, Linux). There are novice and expert versions of courses and you can plan and send a course to friends. See the User guide. There is also a treasure hunt available when in Explorer mode.
The game can be found here.
Graham has recently put a lot of work into improving the visualisations in The Forest. As you learn the type of terrain that The Forest features, you become much better at visualising it from a map extract. This mirrors what happens in reality, where the better we know a certain type of terrain, say complex fells in the Lake District, the easier it becomes to “see” in our minds what the map is showing. Multiple World Champion Thierry Gueorgious’ father, Michel, calls this a Terrain Library that we build from our experience of orienteering in different types of terrain. The Forest illustrates that learning process very well.
There are several orienteering games you can purchase. Some have a free demo online. The two suggestions here are not in any order of recommendation. Both have been around a while, and both have been updating their digital landscapes. Just as with real orienteering, don’t expect instant success. The courses take a long time to work around just like real courses and when you get lost, you truly get lost!
Virtual O (game to purchase)
Virtual O is an orienteering simulation game. The video link at the start of this article shows Simone Niggli playing it and captures the sense of total immersion in the terrain as though you were really sitting in the forest. Clearly playing a game is not the same as really being outside, but the digital landscapes have come on a long way with realistic rendering from the maps. It can take a while to get the hang of using the interface, but the quickest competitors are impressive. The game is for purchase, but the demo video gives a good idea of what it entails.
The Virtual O demo page can be viewed below.
Catching Features (free demo then game to purchase)
Many orienteers have tried Catching features at some point. If you haven’t tried it, it’s worth a go. You can try a course on the free demo version to see if it works for you. The representations of terrain have moved on a lot from when such games first started. Unlike most fast-paced computer games it requires a steadier approach and there is a fair learning curve at first to work how best to interact with the courses. There’s a huge number of players already. You get to practice route choice and map reading without going out.
This free demo gives a good flavour and can be found here.
Build Your Skills
You can of course use some down time to review your skills and work out what you might be able to improve on. Orienteering is a never-ending learning process. There are lots of suggestions and resources on the Better Orienteering website here.
If you prefer to learn by watching videos, here are two playlists.
These video links can also be a great way to try to get friends hooked on the idea of trying orienteering.
Make A Map – Open Orienteering Map
If you have never tried using Open Orienteering Map by Ollie O’Brien it’s a diverting way to make training courses. Why not plan a club training session and some simple courses for when we are allowed back out into the great outdoors?
The Open Orienteering Map, the easy Street-O map creation tool can be found here.
Click on the little pen icon to edit text boxes. Maps are exported as pdfs.
You can then import your pdf to PurplePen (which is free to download) and add courses for when orienteering returns. Remember of course that land permissions are still needed.
Have fun orienteering online!