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.
Jennie Taylor Communications Officer at British Orienteering caught up with Adrian Hope member of Badenoch and Sprathspey Orienteering Club (BASOC) who has been a British Orienteering member for over 37 years.
HOW DID I GET STARTED?
It all began when my daughter Lesley did some orienteering at college. She took me to my first event which was an informal event run by INVOC juniors in Culbokie Wood – a nice little area a few miles from Inverness. One of the INVOC people showed me an orienteering kite so I would know what to look for and off I went. It was all a bit strange to find that the white bits on the map were full of trees while the brown bits had none and there was a worrying moment when I tried to cross a large uncrossable marsh (not for the last time thinking I was somewhere else…) but I turned back when the water came over my knees and so didn’t have to swim. Anyway, I did find all the controls and I was hooked.
That was maybe in 1984 but in those days I didn’t think of marking up the map and writing the date on so I’m not exactly sure. Anyway, I joined INVOC which is based in Inverness only sixty-five miles away and was our nearest club.
We started up LOCHOC in 1993 only because we thought that might make it easier to attract funding for orienteering in the Fort William area than if it was being done directly by INVOC. BASOC hadn’t yet been started at that time, so didn’t come into consideration. We had a few keen members but little or no experience. With tremendous help from Donald Petrie, the Professional Officer we put on a successful Colour Coded event - at which I was the only Club member who had ever even been to one before!
In spite of having the Six Days at Fort William in 2001 we couldn’t quite make it work and finally had to admit defeat in 2005.
MASTER MAPS AND THINGS
Of course, we had master maps and control cards and all that. The move to electronics has certainly made things a lot easier in lots of ways but we lost a bit too. Marking up your map as fast as possible in your running time was a skill on its own and if you sort of forgot which controls you had already punched you just had to have a look at your control card to check. A more serious loss was the ‘clothes line’ where the control card stubs with finishing times were hung up as runners came in. This was always a place for people to congregate and compare notes about their runs and generally socialise whereas nowadays they all tend to disappear into their cars and there’s not the same chance for a blether.
Some other changes are more striking. We went to the British Champs at Achilty in1986 before Portaloos became common: The toilet provision consisted of a very large hole in the ground surrounded by an imperfect screen of hessian sacking. It was not pleasant.
PLANNING & ORGANISING
LOCHOC was already struggling when I became a coach so I never really got to do very much. Organising was just a chore but planning was more fun and I did a fair bit of that in LOCHOC; maybe planning the string courses was the most enjoyable. You can put the string where you might hesitate to put a yellow course and make it seem a real adventure for the young runners. It’s most important to get the junior courses right; give the experts a stupid course and they’ll only call you names but do it to the young ones and maybe they will never come back.
The Scottish Six Days is tough going because it usually attracts a lot of foreign competition as well as a lot of runners from south of the Border so I think I was most pleased about winning M85 in 2003. Every other year I have been slower than an assortment of Swedes, Danes or Swiss and even an occasional Englishman; but in 2003 when it came to Day 6 I had enough points to be certain at least of second place so had nothing to do but run as fast as I could and not waste any time worrying about navigating or anything else and the Swedish competition helped by having a bad run. The trophy is still sitting on my hearth.
Although it makes a pleasant change to win and I always had a go, I don’t think that it ever really mattered all that much. It was a good run if you had found all the controls and could still find enough to sprint on the run-in even if it did all take a long time.
HOW MANY EVENTS AND WHERE?
Don’t know how many events I went to from time to time but have kept all the maps and there are about 350 of them collected over thirty-odd years. Leafing through the file brings back a few memories…
I never got to like urban events, preferring to be out in the forest except that latterly I preferred it to be not too rough! When you get on a bit you find you have to climb laboriously down one side of a ditch and then up the other side instead of leaping smoothly across. I reckon that most planners are pretty fit athletic people who don’t yet know about this kind of thing or they would be more sympathetic.
I went to quite a few events in England, starting with the CompassSport Cup at Cannock Chase with INVOC and then quite a few trips to the Lakes and some to Yorkshire. I went to one or two events in Australia when I was there on holiday; great running and a new experience to come in with your shoes dusty. It was all a bit different: lots of controls on termite mounds, the air scented by the eucalyptus trees and kangaroos bounding off into the bush. Nearly as good as a Scottish forest in the rain…
WHY KEEP ORIENTEERING?
This is hard to answer. For one thing, there is too much to think about for you to notice that the legs are tired and the breath is short; also because, unlike hill running where you can usually see a great line of people who are ahead of you, you never know if you are last until you see the results. More than that though, it’s mostly just about being out in the forest.
Why stop? Partly because driving to events gets more like work but mostly because even Short Green courses get to seem quite long and there are very, very few events with a class for M90’s. It’s tough competing against youngsters who are only 80 or so.
Over the years I have had all the possible problems:
Orienteers everywhere seem to be a helpful friendly lot. BASOC people certainly are and they always feel like personal friends. It would be unfair to single out any one individual.
Thank you Adrian. Wishing you all the very best.