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Share  Tweet Friday 19th April 2024

Orienteering Foundation Survey

The Orienteering Foundation is a charity that promotes and supports orienteering, to bring all the benefits this amazing sport has to offer the people of the UK.

Examples of how they have supported the growth and development of orienteering include: part-funding several clubs for Club Development Officer roles, providing coaching course grants, and supporting athletes in attending international orienteering competitions.

Development Squad athlete and member of Interlopers Orienteering Club, Mairi Eades, is currently conducting a survey to investigate the current impact and effectiveness the Foundation has across the orienteering community.

We invite you to complete this short questionnaire to help her with her research.

A link to the survey is available here

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Share  Tweet Monday 15th April 2024

Update to the selection panels

We are able to announce the full panels of selectors for 2024. These panels choose the athletes to represent Great Britain at international races.

We are delighted to have been able to attract two well-known and established former WOC and JWOC athletes. Jenny Johnson will sit on the junior selection panel, and Jenny Peel on the senior panel. Both are members of SYO and are active in the development, coaching and support to squads throughout the Performance Programme locally, nationally, and internationally.

Ranald Macdonald has agreed to extend his role as independent scrutineer; a job that sense checks, and if needed challenges, process and fairness-to the senior selections, as well as continuing in this role for the juniors.

Pippa Archer will take her place on both junior and senior panels following her recent appointment as Performance Manager.

We recognise the commitment that these volunteers give back to our sport, and thank them for agreeing to take on these complex and important roles.

How the selector panels work is detailed in the selection policy here.

 

For completeness, the full panels are for 2024 are:

Seniors

  • Bob Dredge (Chair)
  • Pippa Archer, Performance Manager (Selector)
  • Emil Wingstedt, L5 coach (Selector)
  • Jenny Peel (Selector)
  • Andy Kitchin, L5 coordinator (Selection Advisor)
  • Tom Bray, L4 coach (Selection Advisor)
  • Ranald Macdonald (Scrutineer)

 

Juniors

  • Bob Dredge (Chair)
  • Pippa Archer, Performance Manager (Selector)
  • Paul Murgatroyd (Selector)
  • Jenny Johnson (Selector)
  • Tom Bray, L4 Coach (Selector)
  • L3 Talent Scotland Coach (Selection Advisor)
  • L3 Talent North Coach (Selection Advisor)
  • L3 Talent South Coach (Selection Advisor)
  • Ranald Macdonald (Scrutineer)
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Share  Tweet Monday 15th April 2024

BOC 2024: An Interview with Weekend Coordinator, Duncan Archer

Following this weekend's British Orienteering Championships 2024, we spoke to Weekend Coordinator Duncan Archer (Lakeland Orienteering Club) to learn more about the planning process for this year's event and his highlights from the weekend. 

How did the North East Orienteering Association come to plan the British Orienteering Championships 2024?

Major events like the JK and British Champs rotate round the regions and home nations. NEOA has always been happy to do its bit staging these events about once every 10 years for each of JK and British. We last did the British Long and Relay in 2014, so exactly 10 years later here we are again!

Caroline Mackenzie and Duncan Archer at BOC 2024

The event was based in Whitby, Yorkshire – how did you go about deciding on the final locations for both the Long Distance and Relay events?

The areas in the North East that are able to accommodate major events are either around the North York Moors (CLOK areas), or in Northumberland (NATO and NN areas), and major events we host tend to alternate between the two. We were originally staging JK 2020 near Whitby, which sadly got cancelled along with many other events due to Covid, and so it was natural to return to similar plans for BOC/BRC in 2024. I was also coordinator for the ill-fated JK 2020, so I decided to take on the role again and hopefully see it through this time (despite the fact we moved to the Lakes in May last year, but most of the coordinator’s role can be done remotely).

Mulgrave Woods was a very early candidate for JK2020 but unavailable due to access. However it became available in 2024 and is excellent for a long distance race with areas of technical detail plus options for longer route choice legs. Hutton Mulgrave and Skelder, which we were also going to use for JK 2020 relays, has a good variety of terrain, with the very best bits of natural woodland offering good running and orienteering challenge, right next to fields for arena and parking – ideal for a relay. We bused competitors on the four longest courses to a remote start in the relay area before a run through to Mulgrave to get the length without too much repetition – a similar concept that was used when the JK was here in 1996. An added bonus was both forests and the long parking were owned by a single landowner which makes life easier.

Were there any obstacles to overcome throughout the planning process?

The biggest challenge was rain and wet underfoot conditions. Through winter this was expected, but it persisted through to the event (where in previous years things have been “fine” by mid-April). It affected many things. Some junior relays needed last minute replanning around forestry work that had more impact on muddy rides than you’d expect. The conditions on the long courses were muddy and heavy going (as well as the hills!). But most notably the parking fields and arenas were very squelchy on both days. More tracking was ordered for long parking the week before the event, and we strongly encouraged car sharing (we also considered busing from remote parking but decided against it). We were hugely indebted to the assistance from Mulgrave Estates for laying tracking, firming up entrances, moving equipment, and being on hand with a tractor and ATV on day 1. Also to Austen Floyd one of the Cleveland Mountain Rescue team members (who were providing first aid cover) who happened to also have a tow truck and kindly offered his services on relay day.

The scene is set at Hutton Mulgrave ahead of the Relay Championships 2024

Other challenges? When you are an official at a major event you understand how much goes on behind the scenes, much of which is never apparent to competitors (although some of it sadly is). Just some examples included:

  • Dealing with the safety advisory group regarding signing and turning into the relay parking off a fast and busy A road.
  • Offset litho maps arriving with some print missing around a control, and some hasty reprinting.
  • Worrying about low entry numbers after the first closing date. Although we landed about where we wanted in the end – including the very last entries only two days before the event (if they were happy to pay, we were happy to take their money!).
  • Last minute map changes needed for forestry work in the relay area. We were fortunate to have Paul Taylor from CLOK as our mapper, who lives just down the road, so updates were swiftly accommodated.
  • Logistics of coordinating equipment from lots of different sources (and getting it back).
  • Putting all our volunteers into roles including accommodating desires to run on the day.
  • Some particularly challenging conditions with siting commentary and power on the relay day, coupled with a whole slew of team / entry changes from club captains (I think we did well to only delay starts by 10 minutes in the end!).

Volunteers are a critical element when it comes to our events, how did you go about recruiting and engaging individuals to get involved?

It was a challenge! To put things in perspective – we had 100 volunteers at the long, and 70 at the relay. NEOA has 160 ranked members (a reasonable measure of active orienteers). Do the sums – even if all those orienteers in the North East were to help on one day we still wouldn’t have enough. Compare that with other regions – aside from Wales and Northern Ireland (even fewer orienteers than NEOA!), all other regions have at least 300 ranked members, and the biggest – SWOA, SEOA, NWOA and SOA – have over 600 each.

How did we manage? We pulled together! People helped both days. Some people, particularly team leaders, sacrificed runs (although many volunteers did also run). We had representatives in each of the three open NEOA clubs to drum up support, and our volunteer manager took requirements from organisers, and filled in positions. We also asked participants from outside the region on the entry form if they could help and got over 50 offers which was fantastic (so much so that we ended up not needing them all!).

At the end of the day, most volunteers don’t actually do it for any particular reward or recognition (although we did give helper vouchers to spend at traders at the event), and it is great to see such a spirit of volunteering in the sport. Most people are just happy to do their bit, to balance the countless times they benefit from it.

Volunteers at the event

How did each day of the event unfold from your perspective as coordinator?

Standing in a waterlogged part of the long parking field as tracking was going down on Friday I could not understand how this was going to work. And on the Friday night it felt like the calm before the storm. The hard work had been done. No doubt many officials and team leaders were mentally going through their task lists for the next day, but as coordinator there wasn’t a whole lot I could do. So much so that I drafted half of this interview that evening! But I was still very stressed about parking and arena conditions.

Saturday I arrived at 7am. We managed to get traders into creative positions. The parking situation was “managed” through the morning. Competitors started to arrive in the arena, set up tents, have their runs, and everything proceeded as it should! The courses turned out to be challenging and tough – as I believe it should be for the British Championships – and people were coming back exhausted but the vast majority still happy. They were three technical complaints but we handled them according to the process, the results stood, and we got all the prizes presented with the help of special guest Steve Cram.

Sunday it again quickly became evident parking was going to be challenging. Now as coordinator, in theory by the day of the event you should have done your “coordinating”, and the other officials and team leaders should just make it happen. In reality issues come up, and I saw it as my role to just jump in where needed. In the end this involved helping direct the parking as I knew that without getting all the competitors and their cars into the field there would be no meaningful event. We did it, we overcame some challenges mentioned earlier, and the mass starts got under way. Reports from their forest were positive, and careful navigation in the heat of the head to head relay paid off, and the winners were duly crowned.

Duncan and the team with Steve Cram

Is there any advice you would give to those who will coordinate future major events such as BOC?

Orienteering is hugely technical sport with lots of detail to organise. But two things will make or break an event. Firstly what goes on in the forest – plan good courses, get the maps correct, and get the controls in the right place. Secondly the logistics, parking and arenas – assume it will rain, and then rain some more, budget for lots of tracking, and have contingency plans (tow trucks, buying more tracking, etc.). There is much more besides but it will follow and if it doesn’t it isn’t the end of the world.

It is important is to fill your organiser, planner and team leader roles early with your best people, make sure they and their teams are briefed, and then let them do their job. My role as coordinator was to help find some of those people in the first place (I’m hugely grateful to the great team we had), join the dots between them, make sure people remained informed about what else was going on beyond their immediate role, act as the bridge to British Orienteering, and help make judgements on a whole host of questions where the way forward wasn’t obvious. I also covered some things that spanned both days (procuring various services and systems, website, medals, traders, bibs, juries, event programme etc. – several of which could have been done by others, although see previous point about number of volunteers!).

Can you share your highlights from the weekend with us?

  • Seeing a deer skipping across the field as we arrived at 7am on Saturday. Little did it know what was about to go down in its back garden!
  • Getting Steve Cram there to present prizes on Saturday. He became British Orienteering president in 2021, but has many other commitments in athletics, his own events company, and as a coach, and this was his first appearance at an event in the role. With the British Champs in the North East where he is from it seemed an ideal opportunity, so I asked (via the secret channels...), and was delighted when he said yes!
  • Enjoying some of the forests myself. I hung relay controls on the Friday, and was waking them up on a beautiful Sunday morning. Amidst the business of the event it is nice to have some time on your own, doing what you love, finding controls with a map and compass in your hand.
  • Being able to provide accommodations for a couple of competitors with particular needs. It is great how inclusive our “sport for all” can be.
  • Raising £350 for the Orienteering Foundation through donations by competitors as part of their entry. This helps them to continue the great work they do and the projects they support in our great sport.
  • Leaving the site on Sunday proud that we’d delivered a great event and the vast majority of competitors went away happy.

Learn more about BOC 2024 via the website.

With thanks to Wendy Carlyle for providing these images from the weekend. Full library available here

Duncan Archer and Caroline Mackenzie
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Share  Tweet Wednesday 3rd April 2024

Volunteer of the Year Award Winner 2023: David McCann, Manchester and District Orienteering Club

The winner of British Orienteering’s Volunteer of the Year Award 2023 is David McCann from Manchester and District Orienteering Club.

Our Volunteer of the Year Award recognises an individual who has demonstrated a commitment to supporting the delivery of orienteering activities with passion, energy, and enthusiasm.

Huge congratulations go to David on winning this award! Here is what his nominees had to say about his work over the course of 2023 and beyond.

David McCann, Manchester and District Orienteering Club

David McCann was the overall coordinator for JK 2023. He dedicated an incredible amount of time and effort to this role, giving up almost every free evening and weekend for more than a year in preparation. The role involved countless hours of meetings, thousands of emails, crucial negotiations, site visits, equipment procurement, endless logistical planning and a tireless effort on the ground throughout the 4 events. To say that David has given more than a year of his life to this JK is no exaggeration. He was ever-present in the organisation, always available to liaise with the day organisers and planners, managing the teams and keeping the whole operation on track. Even while on holiday in Morocco months before the event, he could be found spending several hours a day sending JK emails and attending virtual meetings!

Throughout the organisation process, he calmly dealt with a wide range of problems as they occurred, not least storm damage leaving the original areas unusable and necessitating a complete overhaul of the weekend plan. At every setback David brought new ideas to the table and a solution was never far away. Few of us can understand the level of commitment required to arrange 4 consecutive events of the highest standard, suitable not only to host thousands of competitors, but also to provide international level competition for elite athletes, while managing delicate relationships with landowners, local residents and other stakeholders.

Thanks to his efforts the festival was highly successful, bringing orienteers to the Lake District from all around the world. The festival also provided vital World Ranking Events on British soil and David embraced this despite the huge extra logistical burden it involved. The 2023 event was widely regarded as one of the most enjoyable and popular JKs in recent years and whether they know it or not, more than 3000 orienteers owe David a debt of gratitude.

In addition to his volunteering with the JK, David has remained an active member of MDOC and has continued to chair the Greater Manchester Orienteering Association, ensuring that orienteering activities are available throughout the city, including to school children and disability groups. GMOA maintain permanent courses in more than 50 parks around Manchester and thanks to their good work, a huge number of people from all backgrounds have been able to enjoy the sport for the first time.

I strongly believe that no one in the country has given more of their time and effort to the sport this year, while remaining largely anonymous and receiving such little recognition and thanks. Hopefully receiving this award will show David some of the appreciation that he deserves.

We would once again like to congratulate David on winning the Volunteer of the Year Award 2023.

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It’s important to us, to recognise the other clubs who were nominated for the Volunteer of the Year Award 2023. Here they are, alongside some of the comments regarding their contributions over the past year.

Nominees for Volunteer of the Year Award 2023

Euan Marsh, Southdowns Orienteers

“Because of Euan’s efforts, we have a strong group of regular Club Night runners who show up every week. We have gained 5 new members over the last year who started by coming to Club Night and enjoyed Euan’s activities enough to want more and try coming along to regular events. Even when there is a smaller turnout, he continues to plan and run high quality activities free of charge to help our club members practice their navigation skills in a fun way.

On top of this, Euan has started working as a volunteer mapper for the club - remapping areas ahead of their use for local events as needed. He has planned two events this year - one for our summer series and one in the spring, making map updates for these as well as for other runners.”

Sal Chaffey, Derwent Valley Orienteers

“Sal has been an inspirational volunteer for DVO. She has put her heart and soul into the club. Not only has she been chair for three years (and a committee member for much longer) but has pioneered a programme of level D events to encourage beginners and improvers to get involved with orienteering.

She has majored on the publicity for events, not only via social media, but in the field where she is regularly seen hanging posters/banners in advance of events. Her chatter for orienteering is infectious and her outreach is extensive.”

Klaas Wynne, Clydeside Orienteers

“Klaas is relatively new to Orienteering and very new to CLYDE orienteering. Being a lecturer at Glasgow University he has been the link and flame to ignite the clubs development project of starting sustainable and fun orienteering across Glasgow Universities’.

He has undertaken several large mapping projects on top of his day job being keen to grow the club and Glasgow orienteering scene. He has been a big boost in a recent recognition of energy in Clyde and everyone is grateful for all he does.”

Gordon Parker, South London Orienteers

“Gordon attends almost every event, and stores all of the club kit in his personal space. He doesn’t just turn up to help at almost every event but also then goes home, unloads all the kit by himself and ensures all the kit is in good condition, hanging up kites to dry etc.

He is also extremely generous with the use of his personal car for the club. He goes above and beyond what any club could expect of a volunteer.”

Steve Scott, Forth Valley Orienteers

“Steve is the most humble and devoted orienteering volunteer you will ever find. He has an absolute fountain of knowledge on all things to do with the sport and real driver behind FVO’s growth and inclusivity - most people join because of him.

He mentors many junior planners and advocates passionately on the committee for development, volunteer support and junior mentorship.

He is an inspiration to others, passes on his knowledge, is very responsive and often passes on his run to help out volunteering if the start is overwhelmed.”

Clive and Sally Wilkinson, Suffolk Orienteering Club

“Husband and wife, Clive and Sally Wilkinson are nominated together as they dove-tail together so well and contribute to both club and region

They successfully applied for Sport England grant aid to run CATI events in Ipswich and tied fixtures together to enable newcomers to progress onto simple summer series events. Clive, as lead coach, ties in online and in person training sessions to support new club members as well as ensuring experienced folk are ready to share across the club. Sally, as fixtures secretary, has battled ever changing requirements from landowners to coordinate all the activity that enables events to be held, working up to 3 years in advance. With Clive as regional junior coach, they are both ready to take youngsters to events across the county, region and country to support their skill development.”

Matthew Clark, Kingdom of Fife Orienteers

“Matthew has been the driving force behind KFO’s rebirth. He volunteers with SEDS and as an SOA tutor. A great inspiration and driver for orienteering.”

Graham Nilson, Deeside Orienteering Club

“Graham Nilsen made a huge contribution in 2022 and then in 2023 by putting on a series of eight double sprint events in local parks on each of those years. This was truly a one-man effort . Remarkably he mapped 12 new local parks and then organised and planned all the events himself with no help from any club members other than his wife Anna. These events were held in midsummer evenings when most our normal local orienteering areas were too overgrown to be usable and when few orienteering events were being organised by other Clubs, thus allowing members of DEE and neighbouring Clubs to maintain their orienteering activities through this period.

Additionally, Graham has been active in updating his own excellent maps of prime orienteering areas on the Sefton Coast such as  Ainsdale. His Altcar Camp map and updated Formby map will be used for regional events in 2024 and his Chester City map for a national and UKOL event also in 2024.”

Ian Gamlen, Harlequins Orienteering Club

“Ian has been an active orienteer and tireless volunteer for several years, stepping up to do committee work at both club and regional level, and event organisation (the hardest post to fill). Ian has volunteered as organiser for numerous events. He has done this for his first and second-claim clubs whilst he was a member of both HOC and COBOC.

He has a particular interest in promoting orienteering to newcomers via small-scale events targeted at beginners, families and schools; he also supports Birmingham City Council's community games events by providing an orienteering maze.”

Robert Vickers, Harlequins Orienteering Club

“Robert has been a stalwart of the sport and Harlequins Orienteering Club for over forty years.

As well as involvement in event organisation, planning and controlling, he has also mentored newer officials and served as club secretary for several years.

Robert currently continues to serve the club as one of the Landowner Liaison Officers with a large portfolio of areas, conducting sensitive negotiations over permissions with a high level of tact and diplomacy. He still competes regularly as an M80 and helps with marshalling at events. He is one of our most active orienteers in terms of events attended.”
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Next up, we will be sharing details of the winner of the Young Volunteer of the Year Award 2023. Check our website or social media daily for the latest updates.

 

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