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Past posts

Race Reports Round-up 2016-17

28-07-2017

It certainly has been a busy year for UBOC, as you can see in this collection of weekly race reports - ranging from comical mishaps to impressive athletic feats, and everything in between.


OCTOBER

Parkend (Forest of Dean) – Abi Bateman

On Saturday, 5 members of UBOC went in Abi’s car to the NGOC event in Parkend, Forest of Dean. The area was lovely, running through mixed woodlands being generally very runnable. 4 of us ran the 5.7km Blue course with very respectable times, and 1 ran the Yellow course, again in a very good time. It was a good race, I only ended up running in the wrong direction a few times!

CompassSport Cup Final, Tankersley Woods

On Sunday, the CompassSport Cup Final was held in Tankersley woods near Sheffield. This is an event where various clubs have qualified from different regions and their members compete for their club to win the overall cup. Tom Dobra and Matt Whipple both ran on behalf of BOK (Bristol) and Ben Mitchell competed for his home club, SBOC (Swansea Bay). All three of them ran brilliantly with BOK coming 3rd overall. Well done boys!

Malvern weekend – Lawrence Jones

UBOC’s treasurer travelled up to Malvern for a weekend of orienteering: The double header run by Harlequins Orienteering this weekend in Malvern proved to be a fantastic pair of events. Both Saturday and Sundays events were set against the impressive backdrop of the Malvern Hills (and quite useful as well as they tend to run north-south). Saturday was an urban race set in Great Malvern (and halfway up the Worcestershire beacon) with some great route choice legs and lots of sneaky walkways. Sunday’s race was more traditional set around Castlemorton common, which the organisers made trickier by deciding to not map the seasonal (but waist high) bracken patches. A lovely weekend with the added bonus that I managed to not do terribly on either day!

Welsh Senior Home Internationals, Anglesey – Megan Carter-Davies

Meanwhile, Ben Mitchell and I headed up to Anglesey to compete for Wales at the Senior Home Internationals. We came away with some good results, though the terrain was so tricky it was hard to avoid making mistakes. It was a great weekend anyway and the sunshine meant we had gorgeous views of Snowdonia!

Warmley score event – Megan Carter-Davies

Several UBOC members showed up at Warmley on Saturday night for some orienteering in the dark! It was a score event – you have an hour to find as many controls as you can (though some are worth more points) and return to the start before time’s up. Matt Whipple, Ben Mitchell and Tom Dobra took the top 3 spots on the results having found all of the controls. I thought I had found them all and returned early but had accidentally missed one, oops! Tom Dixon, new UBOC member, tackled this as his first ever orienteering event and did very well too – well done Tom! - Megan


NOVEMBER

November Classic, Salisbury – Abi Kerr

On Saturday 10 UBOCers tracked down to Salisbury via the mysterious Stonehenge car park and Old Sarum for the November Classic. The girls took on the 6.4km (more like 15k) women's open, exploring the streets of Salisbury and a school for some intricate navigation. The boys ran a swift 7km with Ben triumphing on the Men's open with Tom close behind in 3rd. All the other competitors enjoyed their runs through the streets. We headed to our accommodation viewing many fireworks on the way. A delicious bolognese dinner was cooked in swimming googles by Abi before ending the evening with some pictionary and charades. After a cold night in the scout hut where our best runner was left with nothing but a blanket to survive sub zero temperatures we were ready! An argument later and Kit had a new start time. Ben led the men's elite boys home with a solid run. Dobes, Ho and Kit all paced it round a brutal 16k. Duncan Birtwistle refused to comment on his DNF. Abi made sure her legs were bruised as a peach but still franked out the womens elite. Abi Bateman chalked up a stone cold win. Lawrence's precision navigation helped him complete a tough course. Biggest shout out goes to Rachel whose first forest event went smoothly and she picked out every control. Go UBOC!

Welsh League event, Foel Goch – Megan Carter-Davies

Ben Mitchell and I went to the Welsh League event at Foel Goch – a steep, heathery, rocky open area in West Wales. The navigation wasn’t too hard but it was really tough physically. At least there were nice views! Ben won the Brown course with most of the fastest splits, and I managed to win Blue ahead of some of the boys from my home club (though my shoes fell apart in the process!). A good day out!

Oxford City Race

Two from UBOC made it to the Oxford City Race on Saturday. Those who went were rewarded with decently long challenging courses in and out of many beautiful colleges that are normally closed to the public. Having negotiated all the shoppers, Abi came 6th on the women’s open in a time of 56:37 and Tom narrowly missed out by 1 second to come 7th on the men’s open in 56:56. Since one race is never enough, Tom went on to race around the hilly Shotover Woods, just outside Oxford, on Sunday. With a dense path network and lots of lumps, it was perfect route choice practice, and he came 11th on the brown course.

Stoke Park event – Matt Pickering

A lot was going on this weekend! Firstly, 3 UBOC members went to the local event in Stoke Park on Saturday. Charlotte Bermingham ran the Green course in a great time to come 12th, meanwhile newer members of the club Michael and Matt tackled the Light Green course:

“Little had been said about the difficulties which lay within Stoke Park Estate and so it was with trepidation that your two brave peons (M & M, Michael and Matt) arrived in the early morning sunshine to see what lay inside. Both opted for the light green (3.6km) course which started with a woodland section before opening out into longer legs running north to south through the park. Michael got unstuck on a long leg to control 7 whilst Matt had some trouble early on in the woodland. Ultimately their training had served them well with Matt coming in 1st and Michael coming in 5th. The event was finished off with a custard cream each and a pocketful of leaflets we couldn't refuse to take. Which reminds me, I must dig them out and find out when the next local event is!” - Matt Pickering

We had Tom Dobra repping UBOC at an event in Thetford Forest and Ben Mitchell, Abi Bateman and I competing at the Southern Night Champs in the Quantocks. It was a lovely forest and the courses were great fun, plus we each took home the trophy for our individual age category!

Also on Saturday, Ben and Kit Grierson dominated at the Blorenge hill race in Abergavenny – a very steep, short race - coming away with 1st and 3rd position along with some goodies.

All in all, a good weekend for UBOC!


DECEMBER

Night-O, Leigh Woods – Megan Carter-Davies

Tom Dobra planned the event in Leigh Woods on Saturday evening. I didn’t have the chance to enjoy it myself after having a bike puncture, but 4 UBOCers went along to see what Tom had in store! It was a score event with the aim of gaining as many points possible in 1 hour. It proved to be very well planned and challenging with no-one scoring the maximum number of points. Well done to Ben, Matt Whipple, Lawrence and Matt Pickering, who ran this as his first night event (it was a tough one!), and of course to Tom for a successful event.

Lake District training and race weekend (Tarn Howes, Claife Heights & Bishops Wood) – Kit Grierson

Unseasonably mild weather meant a great weekend of orienteering in the Lake District. On the Saturday training with CUOC took place on Tarn Howes, a technical and physically challenging area. After a penguin warm up a series of skills focused courses were completed. The training ended with a 'tape race' where UBOC's star runner Ben got disqualified and Dr Whipple's precision O-skills delivered him home ahead of the field.

The highlight of the day though was the mad Alc-O! A series of five races and drinks which took place at night. Tom (not Dobra) was taken out by the VK stage and sadly missed a great dinner.

The next day the big race on Claife Heights took place. A brutal and varied technical course was calmly dealt with by Ho Ching whose precision map reading ability was utilised. Abi managed to finish the course which would be considered a female elite course length and ability. As each runner came back there was no sighting of the early starter Michael. The squad was getting worried as the rain clouds came in - however, as a search party was being assembled he triumphantly returned home!

To the delight of many we went to Bishops Woods for further training. Described as 'if heaven was a runnable forest' and 'not Leigh Woods'. A lot of fun was had.

The UBOC man of the trip has to be Dobes for his efficient driving and O technique.


JANUARY

NGOC event at Cranham – Matt Pickering

Great race, truly great race. Tom and I went to Cranham on Saturday for a race which trod the same ground as the BUCS relays. There was everything you would expect from a race, mud, elevation, thickets, steep banks and many depressions. Tom did very well on the blue course with a slight navigation error when he happened to run past me costing him the victory. I fared less well on the green with a 21 minute leg trying to locate a control at the bottom of a big valley -- there was little sympathy from the assembled masses as I traipsed towards the finish -- the whispers only echoed the thoughts in my head -- I should have read the contours.

BOK Galoppen at Cannop Ponds – Megan Carter-Davies

5 UBOCers attended this event – Ben, Matt P, Ho Ching, Tom Dobra and myself. It was lovely forest, even after parts of it had been churned up by wild boar. Matt did the Green as his second course of the weekend, while the rest of us did the Brown. I found it really enjoyable running steadily all the way, enjoying the scenery and I saw some deer out there. Ben came flying past me at one point, running fast enough to win but he struggled to find a couple of the controls and came 2nd to Adam Potter, with only 11s in it. Tom, Ho Ching and I had better value for our money anyway, though we all still finished in the top half of the results.


FEBRUARY

Gower weekend – Tom Dixon

‘Twas Saturday the 28th of January 2017, when nine cheese-loving (except Michael who says cheese ‘smells like feet’) orienteers set off on a journey by car to the land of Wales. Tom Dobra’s car picked up Samuel from the train station near Cardiff on the way to Swansea, and the Mum and Dad of the trip (Megan and Ben) left for a Megabus the night before. Arriving at Swansea, we travelled to our first orienteering destination: tall sand dunes near a village called Llangennith at the far end of the Gower. The weather was great (maybe a little cold) and the views were fantastic! Many orienteers showed up from different clubs and with 100 checkpoints set up around the dunes, we were spoiled for choice on different circuits. The day ended with a competitive relay before heading back to the cars, exhausted and hungry. We stayed the night in Ben’s old scout hut in Killay. With no showers we resulted to sink washing - a great experience that I would highly recommend, especially if you’re not flexible and can’t lift your feet high enough to wash them in the sink! Trying our luck to eat out at a local pub on a busy Saturday night failed, so instead we cooked a delicious pasta bolognese back at the hut, topped with mountains of cheese along with cake and custard for dessert! Filled to the brim with food, we collapsed on our beds and went to sleep. Up early the next morning with porridge-filled stomachs, our next destination was Oxwich Bay which had even more sand dunes to explore. Ben and Megan left early to put out controls and the rest of us set off a little later. Dobra’s car may have taken a few too many wrong turns but we all eventually made it to the bay. Despite the extremely terrible weather (lots and lots of rain), we still tackled the dunes with much enthusiasm, using maps which were drawn by Ben himself! We finished with a 1k sprint race with 12 checkpoints and SI. Heading back to the cars, cold and wet, we got changed into warmer clothes before setting off home to Bristol (or Cardiff in Samuel’s case). Overall the trip was brilliant. The Gower is such a beautiful place and I’m sure that many of us wouldn’t hesitate to go back again. Thanks for a great weekend guys!

Blaise Castle – Tracy Tse

On Saturday, 11 of us went to Blaise Castle for a nice afternoon orienteering. Tom joined Lawrence to go on the most mega warm-up run to Blaise Castle while the others chose to ride a bike, walk or take a bus like I did. Having checked the weather forecast which indicated no rain, I assumed it would be sunny (apparently I am not an expert on English weather!) and it turned out to be cloudy. This was a bit disappointing. Considering I haven’t orienteered for some time, I chose the Orange course. Tom and Rachel did the Light Green while the rest had a go at the Green. The orange course was quite easy to manage, and I think I should challenge Light Green next time. Tom was the first to come back and congratulations on completing his first ever day orienteering race! Those who went on the Green course found a few controls tricky, especially the one near the wall. We decided to take a UBOC group picture as it was the race where most of us turned up! Finally, the sun showed up after the race! Followed by a small ‘climb’ to the Blaise Castle (only Orange and Yellow courses had controls there), Lawrence led us on the most mega supreme ultimate cool-down walk back to city centre. Overall, it was a worthwhile way to spend Saturday afternoon and well done everyone!

P.S.- Looking at the results (as promised here is some analysis), Ben came the first in Green course and within that, UBOC is in the top 60%! For Light Green, UBOC is in the top 80% and Tom is one second off first place! As for Orange course, we are in the top 15%!

Bristol 3km Relays – Matt Pickering

In a change of pace, UBOC headed to the Bristol relays this Saturday. Teams comprised of three members each and the course was a muddy 3km loop around the downs.

For the boys, Kit led us out before Michael handed me the metaphorical baton. Unfortunately I couldn't keep up their good work and dropped three places for a finish of 8th.

The girls also had an 8th place finish. Rachel, Tracy and Tracy fought their way around in worse rainy conditions. Tracy (Tse) cut half the course on the final leg but the team managed to avoid detection and subsequent disqualification.

All in all, the six of us had an enjoyable afternoon away from dibbing and diving through overgrown woodland. That being said, I'm still looking forward to a return to the hills next week at the Welsh Championships!

British Night Championships, Lake District (Great Tower Scout Camp & Bigland) – Tom Dobra

Three intrepid orienteers from UBOC headed to the Lakes for a very demanding weekend. Saturday night saw the British Night Championships at Great Tower Scout Camp, consisting of fog, steep muddy slopes and intricate contour detail. Ben proceeded round the M21L to come 6th in 89:33 on the 9.1 km course, followed very much later by Tom in 157:48 having got stuck waist deep in a marsh on the way to the first control, performed relocation at every other control and been tempted to give up as the course went near the finish twice. Clearly this temptation was too much for Megan as she skipped the second half of her W21L course after straining her back. I unfortunately saw a lot of injuries including someone else hurting their back and I sliced my finger open on don’t-know-what which didn’t stop bleeding for over 2 hours. All in all, it was a tough night.

On Sunday, we went to the complicated wooded hillsides and boggy lumpy fells of Bigland, the venue for the BUCS 2012 relay and long distance race at JK 2015, for the Northern Championships. Ben stormed round the 14 km M21E to come 4th in a time of 111:26. Tom did the same course, aiming to beat his previous day’s time but over a much longer distance, but it wasn’t to be as I missed out in a time of 166:39, perhaps due to the efforts of Saturday and the 730 m of climb with marshes. Megan sensibly walked round part of her course. Overall, it was a cracking and enjoyable weekend, requiring plenty of perseverance. The good news for all you less experienced orienteers is that it is seldom that tough, and it serves as a good reminder for us how tricky life can be when you’re not used to it. On a final note, the entry was superb value for money at £13 for 5:24:27 of running for me!


MARCH

Teddy Hall Relays, Ashton Court Parkrun, Bath Half Marathon, CompassSport Cup Qualifier – Matt Pickering

The whole week: It was a busy week for UBOCers this week as our many members competed on the roads, fells and running tracks.

Earlier in the week, Kit and Michael competed in the Teddy Hall Relays for UBACC. The course is a picturesque 5.8km lap around Oxford with 1 lap of the Roger Bannister running track. Kit's team came in 3rd place overall.

Moving onto Saturday. There was an impromptu UBOC gathering at Ashton Court parkrun where myself, Abi and Michael rolled out of bed early to tackle the hilly course. We finished 21st, 24th and 56th (w) respectively in what was a change from the normal mud.

On Sunday, Tom Dixon completed two speedy laps around Bath to complete the half marathon. Looks like his training is on track for London on 23rd April which he is running for Helen & Douglas House. Good luck Tom!

Finally, Ben, Tom, Kit and I went to Cwm Lickey for the Compass Sport Cup qualifier event. From the course description, the brown course always looked quite punishing and it turned out to be the case. Ben was just pipped by Marcus Pinker with a time of 60:25 whilst the rest of us trailed in quite a bit later! I even managed to mispunch the second to last control.

MOC camp – Megan Carter-Davies

Last week I was on a brilliant training tour in Italy with the GB squad! We spent the majority of our time within Gargano National Park on the east coast for a lot of sprint training around some steep and technical seaside towns with various other national teams. It was great being able to train and race against some of the World’s best orienteers and I learnt so much. As a team, we’re aiming to win some relay medals at the World Orienteering Champs(WOC) this summer so it was great to work together and build the teaminess! Then we drove back across to the west coast, south of Naples, to race at the Mediterranean championships. The first race on Friday was a nighttime sprint race around Agropoli, so we spent the day well, being tourists at Pompeii!( I hadn't realised how well preserved everything was from around 2000 years ago – it was pretty incredible). I was surprised to come 4th in that race, amongst a high quality field with several WOC medalists. The next race was fun sprint around Paestum Archaelogical site, which contained temples dating back to 600Bc! We weren't allowed to cross any walls or run through the temples making for an interesting maze. The final race was around a Royal park, with the coolest control being at the top of the waterfall where you had an amazing view of the palace and its grounds. However the tiredness from the week’s training really caught up with me and I basically bonked on this 4km course… We also had a concert from Nic Manfredi, including several renditions of the famous “you and me” aka the best orienteering song ever, live. All in all, it was a very cool week and definitely worth all of the uni work I now have to catch up on! Hopefully I can show you all some of the maps sometime.

BUCS Report – Tom Dixon

Go UBOC for a great weekend at BUCS, and what an amazing time we all had! It all started at around six on Friday evening. The mini bus took us up driven by Dobra containing me, Matt, Rachel, Lawrence, Rory, Abi B, Michael and Kit, as well as Abi Kerr’s car with Meg, Ben, Mark and Cecelie (who was from Oxford university studying maths, yet another mathematician in the orienteering ranks!). A huge turnout! Our first destination of the trip was a Hostel in the National Forest (about two hours away from Bristol). Upon arrival we checked in, allocated rooms and set to work on a masterpiece meal coordinated by no other than Chef Dobra (and lots of others who helped along!). In the meantime, some of the guys retired to the pool table where some of the most amazing shots in pool history took place, Lawrence really did show off his master skills by potting the white ball in more ways than I thought were possible. Belly’s rumbling, we all tucked in to Tom’s delicious bacon and leek carbonara (probably the most bacony tasting meal I have ever had, it was heaven!) before having a presentation from Megan about the future goals/ambitions of the club. Exhausted and full we headed to bed. A good night’s sleep would be necessary for the next two days of orienteering mayhem.

Up early on Saturday morning, we headed towards Sheffield to our first event at Wharncliffe. The course was really great with tricky route choices and tough terrain including woods, rocky slopes and flat open grass land. I personally found it quite difficult, but loved the variety in the terrain. On the Men’s A race, Ben came 7th overall with a time of 66:35 (well done Ben!), followed by Kit in 22nd in 74:44 (a very good run!), Tom Dobra in 45th in 91:07, Rory in 53rd in 94:27, Mark in 59th in 98:29, Lawrence in 64th in 101:53 and finally Matt in 74th in 109:38. On the Women’s A and Men’s B race, Meg came 2nd with a time of 48:23; just 2:07 behind first place, very well done Meg (go UBOC!), followed by Abi K in 29th in 66:16, Me in 40th place in 75:59 and Abi B in 59th in 96:47. Unfortunately Michael miss-punched, but he still managed to bring himself over the line in a steady 120:20. Finally Rachel Participated in the woman’s B course and came 14th in a time of 74:41.

We set off to Sheffield at around three o’clock after the race finished where we went to the University gym hall. This was our accommodation for the next night - sharing floor space with the 100 or so other orienteers – it didn’t look promising for a good night’s sleep. However, dwelling on the potential lack of sleep was not the main concern – it was fancy dress time! All the Universities at BUCS had to dress up as characters from Disney movies, and as UBOC we were blessed with going as ‘Snow White and the 7 Dwarfs’. The 7 dwarfs consisted of: Me, Abi B, Abi K, Meg, Ben and Rachel – complete with cotton wool beards, signs, hats and belts; Michal was Snow white, and might I add he wore a short yellow skirt – 10/10 for effort there; Dobra was the Nobel Huntsman, with his own trusty sword; Lawrence was the evil witch with a cool bin bag cloak; Matt was the Handsome prince; Rory was the magical mirror (with curtains!) and Kit was the poisoned apple (his costume was just an apple he brought, very fruity).

Once changed we headed to the buffet Chinese where we all ate until our stomachs doubled in size, or maybe even tripled. Not to forget is was also Abi Batemen’s and Mark Libby’s birthday, so there were lots of celebration cheers to go around for them too – happy birthday guys! Walking back the to the gym hall (mainly because I was a dope and forgot my ID) we got ready to go to the iconic club in Sheffield – Poptarts. We did however have a few drinks in the bar first, which was a nice way to wind down and socialise with others. Those of us still standing headed on into the club whilst the others got back to the gym to get a good night’s rest. All I can say is that the Cheesy music was on point and there was some serous dancing going on! Lots of laughing, and sympathy for Ben who was rather drunk, but all in all what a great night!

Waking up the next morning a little too early for good (6:30am) and a tad hungover, we set off to Hugset Wood for the Relay races. The course again was tricky: woodland area but with loads of hills with depressions, as well as brambles as far as the eye can see. Again I thought it was hard, and on one of the controls I struggled for a while trying to find one labelled ‘66’ – all I kept coming across was one labelled ‘99’ and it took me 10 minutes until I realised I was reading it upside down! I think being the dopey dwarf the previous night suited me well! We had two men’s teams consisting of: Kit, Dobra and Rory; and Lawrence, Michal and Matt. The first team came back 17th overall (not sure of 2nd team yet, hopefully results will be up soon!). The women’s team included Meg, Abi K and Abi B who finished 8th place! And we also had a non-competitive team consisting of Michael, Me and Rachel. Ben also ran non-competitively as he was the only one from his University (UWE).

The weekend was beginning to draw to a close. It was goodbye to Rory who is off to France for even more orienteering – hope you have a great time! We headed back towards Bristol, but stopped at the services for some lunch where we ate some birthday cake and gave out some exclusive UBOC prizes including: Dobra for best carbonara, Ben for most drunk, Mark for fastest run-in time (self-proclaimed) and Michael for the best fancy dress and sexiest legs! Thank you so much to Abi Kerr who organised the trip. The weekend overall was fantastic and I’m already buzzing for next year’s BUCS. Well done to everyone who competed and to those who did well, thanks for a great few days!

Run to Clevedon – Ben Mitchell

How did you spend your Saturday?

Matt, Tom and I spent it running all the way from Bristol to Clevedon!

We met up at Ashton Court Mansion at 10 and started along Matts carefully planned route through Ashton Court and out onto the open road passed 50 Acre wood. It wasn’t long before we hit a very muddy patch! But then we were out into the open fields with fantastic views of the beautiful country that is Wales 😉

The route then joined the Gordano Round (a well know running/walking route). Until we opted for a more direct line past all the (very fancy) houses along Cadbury Camp lane. Next we made a quick detour to have a look at the impressive Cadbury Camp hill Fort. The run then carried on along the ridge which continued to give us fab views and a welcome fresh breeze. Then we had to find a way to cross the M5.

Over the bridge and into Clevedon Court Woods - This was my favourite part of the run especially the steep downhill into the village. Not far from the finish we took on the biggest hill we had faced the whole way – Strawberry Hill – Talk of ice cream started now and after a final push up to the top of Dial Hill it was a nice gentle downhill to the Pier and more importantly the ice cream parlour, see the photos!

Highly recommend everyone else does this route on another sunny day! Thanks to Matt and Tom for a great run!

Midlands Championships – Matt Pickering

Another sunny day greeted Ben, Abi K, Duncan and me at the midlands championships on Sunday. The elite courses were middle distance races which meant a lot of controls in a short distance. The private forest provided varied terrain and tricky thick wooded sections but was very runnable, even in the green areas. In a very competitive field, Duncan had the best result of the day coming home 5th in a time of 37:35 after passing me just after control 16. A sunny day didn't mean that we avoided the mud but the course was thankfully light on brambles which despite not being the most technically challenging provides some of the most enjoyable orienteering.


APRIL

Easter events: Painswick Beacon, JK, Leckhampton Hill, Kingswood, London Marathon

There has been a huge amount of orienteering (and marathon-ing) happening in the past few weeks. The holidays started with Matt Pickering and Lawrence Jones battling it out at an NGOC league event at Painswick Beacon – they ended up 6th and 7th, just 22s apart!

The following weekend was a much bigger event – the JK. The JK is the largest event in Britain, held annually, and consists of 4 races over 4 days, as well as some Trail-O competitions. This year, UBOC had 7 turn up – Tom Dobra, Abi Kerr, Matt Pickering, Abi Bateman, Rory Burford, Ben Mitchell and myself. There is so much to say about the JK but rather than write about it here, I encourage you to ask us about it tomorrow at the meal. If you can’t wait, you can check out Rory Burford’s JK photo albums on facebook – very entertaining!

Coming towards the end of the break, on Saturday, Tom Dobra, Kit Grierson, Matt Pickering and Rachel Khan ventured to Leckhampton Hill near Cheltenham to test out the new area with steep slopes and some nice contour detail. Tom won the blue course, just ahead of Kit.

On Sunday, Michael, Ben and I took on the Brown course at Kingswood near Monmouth. Ben took the victory, I went for an easy Sunday jog taking in the views, and Michael completed his first ever Brown course- a great achievement for someone who started orienteering less than a year ago!

Altogether today, we might have just about run half the distance that Tom Dixon did. Tom ran the epic London Marathon in a great time of 3:36:10 for Helen and Douglas House. Amazing stuff, Tom!


MAY

Amesbury urban – Tom Dobra

I ventured out late Saturday afternoon to my first UK urban league race of the year at Amesbury and what a cracker it turned out to be! The race started with a classic route choice trap, which I fell for, on control 1, before requiring careful planning ahead to find feasible routes through all the alleyways that were often blocked at the ends. Clearly I had the speed, so, despite my error at number 1, I won the 6.8 km course (more like 11 km after all the wiggles) by nearly 5 minutes in a time of 43:09.

Ancient Wiltshire Orienteering weekend, Savernake Forest – Matt Pickering

Spirits were high on Sunday as Tom and I were picked up by Tommi for a fun filled trip to the Ancient Wiltshire Orienteering weekend. It wasn’t long before conversation turned to the previous night’s events in Sweden (featuring Ben, Megan and Dane Blomquist) but attention was soon diverted whilst travelling through Calne. Signs warned us of runners in the road, at which point Tom suggested that they should “find a real sport”. It was then established that Calne was the location of the BUCS sprint triathlon where UBOC’s own Rory Burford was competing. Unfortunately, we didn’t have the chance to return Rory’s valedictory salute from Wednesday.

After so much excitement in such a short car journey, we reached Savernake, the UK’s largest private woodland. Now managed by the forestry commission on a 999 year lease signed in 1939. From looking at the map, it looked flat and fast. Brambles and nettles were to be expected but the planner’s notes said the courses were planned to avoid the worst of it.

Dobes (King of Leckhampton Hill and Duke of Amesbury) and I headed out on the brown 8.8km course. The (not quite distinguished) BOOBS coordinator, Kit, gave me some sage advice on Friday: “Make sure you hit your bearings” and boy was he right. The terrain was very flat and runnable. The best routes were in straight lines into featureless indistinct forest areas which required accurate compass and map work. The saving grace was the bird feeders dotted around the forest which provided attack points. A few misses here and there added up, Tom got round in 82:17 whilst I pipped him in 79:25 for a mid-table finish.

At the end of the middle day of our bank holiday weekend, there are still unfortunately unanswered questions. Of foremost importance, the pronunciation of Savernake was not fully established. It pains me somewhat as I now know the contours, I know the pits and I know the knolls but yet I don’t know the name of the place I explored. However, whilst orienteering you often know exactly where you are without understanding how all the local fragments piece together. Thus, it feels apt to leave the woodland without this holistic knowledge but a satisfying sense of orientation.

Stoke Bishop race – Matt Pickering

Several improvements to my report writing were suggested after last week’s carefully composed chronicle so this time, I’ll get straight to the point.

As the planner, I had a different perspective to usual. After hanging, it was fingers crossed that the courses were set up correctly and we hadn’t overlooked anything whilst organising the race.

At 17:50, there were already queues in the start lane as we hastily redrew the start boxes but at 18:00 the first competitors were released to tackle the courses. We made good use of the hill as the first few legs sent competitors on all courses up towards Durdham Hall before a short circuit of the campus and then a long leg out into the streets of Stoke Bishop. The longest courses went out to the Trym valley before the finishing with a loop of Badock and one final climb to the finish.

In total, 10 current members and a couple of BOOBS (‘Bristol Orienteering Old Boys and Sisters’, our alumni club) had a go at the courses and even more helped out organising and doing jobs on the night. Hopefully our next race can be as successful.

British Long Distance and Relay Championships - Megan Carter-Davies

5 UBOC members made the journey up to the Lake District for the British Championships weekend, consisting of a long distance race at High Dam on the Saturday and relay race on Sunday, and also incorporating the British TrailO Championships (read Tom's story).

The men's 15km race sounds long as it is but add to that 750m of climb and super tricky navigation, at 1:15000 scale of course, and the race gets rather tough rather quickly! Indeed, it lived up to expectations but our uboc boys were tougher. Matt Pickering made it around his first elite long distance race to come in 37th, while Tom Dobra had a strong run to come in 31st. Ben ran a great time and would have been 7th however some unfortunate dibber issues put him down as mispunching (he did visit every control really!).

The women's courses were equally tough. Abi Kerr took on the W21L course and smashed it, finishing 7th, meanwhile I raced the elite class, struggling over the first half especially on our 15 minute uphill leg, but turned it around and came 2nd overall for my first senior national medal!

One sleep later, we were at Summer House Knott for the relays. Today we were fielding one Uboc team of myself, Matt and Abi, while Ben and Tom ran the first leg for Swansea Bay and BOK respectively, all of us in the men's premier race.

Our heated first leg started at a brutal pace and I was just holding on to my group until a mistake at control 6. Following this I thought it might be a solo struggle for some time but came across BOOBS member Duncan Birtwistle (running for OD) for a couple of controls. I took a different route to control 9 and he got away but then Ben appeared out of nowhere - maybe I was doing pretty well?! Anyway he got away too but I managed to keep up with an Edinburgh uni team for the next few controls before the spectator run through. For some reason the crowds seemed extra loud for me there, and when Ben passed me again a few controls later I realised why - he made a mistake before the run-through and I had been ahead of him! Oh the abuse he got ;) Our hare and tortoise race didn't stop there either, with a mistake in the last loop I caught Ben one last time. He finished around a minute ahead of me but with our mistakes we were both about 10mins off the pace of the leaders. Tom, newly crowned TrailO champion, came in shortly after, tactically letting his favourite team (UBOC) have an advantage over his other team, BOK.

Next up in our "UBOC ridge of death" team was Matt. I can't account for every stage of his race but he and another guy stuck together taking the navigation carefully and minimising mistakes. He seemed satisfied with his performance and rightly so - he had a great time and bettered his not-mispunching-in-the-relay rate from 50% to 66%!

Matt handed over to Abi for the third and final leg. Enjoying the lovely terrain and weather, Abi ticked off the controls at a steady pace with just one 2min mistake. She twisted her ankle but powered through to bring us home in 13th.

Today was a bit controversial with the top 3 premier men's teams mispunching, and a couple of the top women's teams having a non-British citizen running so not counting under the British Relay championship eligibility rules - all the drama! At least we could all enjoy the beautiful sunshine!

British Trail Orienteering Championships - Tom Dobra

After a very physical long race, I went on to compete in BTOC later on Saturday afternoon. The Lakeside YMCA centre provided an entertaining mix of undulating contours, knolls and crags on a much more legible 1:4000 map. The course started with two stations each of two timed controls, requiring you to select the correct kite (with no kite correct, zero, not an option) to be used as a tie-breaker. Two mistakes left me with a poor score of 153 s. Then, came the main course of 22 problems, with a decent selection of zeroes. I completed the testing course with very little time to spare with a respectable score of 18. Much to my surprise, this was sufficient to win, despite the weak timed controls, making me the British champion!

Westbury-on-Trym - Michael Lai

After a whole day of miserable weather, the rain died down just in time for the 3rd race of the summer urban series. 7 UBOC members took part in the race (including Dr. Whipple). 6 of us ran in the 6k blue course and Rachel ran in the 4.1k green course. Congratulations to Tom Dobra, Kit and Megan for finishing 1st 2nd and third, respectively, all within 2 minutes of each other. The area was very suburban, with lots of dead ends and small paths between houses. There were lots of comparably optimal route choices for many of the controls. As far as I know, there was only one case of falling over, committed by our Matt Pickering on his way down to cross the river.

The TrailO was an interesting addition, with a challenging timed exercise at the end. It was a test of observational rather than navigational or physical skills.

Preseli race report - Matt Pickering

Some late start times meant a leisurely start on Saturday morning for the long drive to Pembrokeshire for the Pembrokeshire orienteering weekend.

After letting our loyal fans on twitter know about our weekend's activities we still had quite a bit of the journey to go. Eventually we spotted a hill then some cyclists and finally the assembly. Spurred on by the retweets we were in high spirits looking forward to a good afternoon's orienteering.

The very remote location was already 200m above sea level and the highest points on the hills standing at 350m. After my turn to stand around waiting for my start. I knew that the course was going to physical and reward accuracy so I was cautious out of the start up the hill. The winds on the moorland were sapping and Ben quickly gained 4 minutes on me by control 5. After then seeing him disappear into the distance on his way to a blistering time, my concentration turned to interpreting the many rocks on an indistinct hillside. Tom was the second UBOCer, followed by Kit and then Megan closely behind.

I also met Kit's parents, Megan got to watch Tom getting lost a lot and Phil showed us all his dog bite. All in all, a pleasant afternoon on the fells.

Tenby urban race - Megan Carter-Davies

Today's urban event was held in Tenby, on a great map produced by our very own Ben Mitchell. As usual in Wales, the sun was out and we had a fun start on the beach, launching us straight up some steps into the town. All of the guys (Matt P, Kit, Tom Dobra and Ben) ran in the Men Open class on a 7.6km course, though in reality running around 9km. The course, wiggled and zigzagged across the town,took you out onto and open hill, and then back along the beach searching for caves. Top UBOC dog was Dobra coming 5th, Kit Grierson came 11th and Matt P 13th. Ben ran the fastest time but having made the map, essentially knowing the area like the back of his hand, was non-competitive. I ran Women's open, 6km (7.5km in reality), had a pretty good run just one mistake, missing a cave on the beach, and took the win on the course overall, ahead of all the m40s!

Primary schools orienteering session - Kit Grierson

To celebrate World Orienteering Day, Tracey, Ho Ching and Kit volunteered to teach over 200 students orienteering skills. Exercises included a cone course where orientating your map was key and a relay exercise to improve symbol reading. It was a fast-paced day but only a handful of kids had ever orienteered before and so hopefully it will have sparked some interest! Orienteering is a niche sport and so events like this are helpful in improving access to orienteering for the public.

Oldbury Court urban - Matt Pickering

Oldbury Court was the park of choice for this Wednesday's urban series event. Situated in north Bristol, the courses started in parkland before heading down the Frome Valley and back through some urban areas.

It was sweltering, even the shade of the leafy riverbanks couldn't save your trusty heroes from the beating rays and oppressive humidity.

None of us were a match for the speedy Adam Potter who finished 6 minutes clear of Tom Dobra with Kit just behind in third place. I was a few more minutes back in 9th. There were several long legs which really rewarded the good runners on the night.


JUNE

Threshfield TrailO Challenge report (last weekend) - Tom Dobra

I disappeared off last weekend to the Yorkshire Dales for two days of PreO in Threshfield Quarry, the car park for JK 2016 day 3. There was an interesting mixture of short and long range problems, including trying to identify small hills at the cliff foot 200 m away plus kites so close that you could touch them. Unfortunately, there were also some rather dubious ones/pieces of mapping, causing many of the top elites to get rather low scores and be beaten by the less experienced. On Saturday, I came 15th, but had clearly got into the mindset of the planner by winning on Sunday, coming 5th overall across the two days. Dedicated UK TrailO competitions are rare, so this was an enjoyable chance to go head-to-head and I’ll aim to get UBOC to more TrailO ranking events in future.

Bradley Stoke - Megan Carter-Davies

Charles Daniels, one of UBOC’s close links with BOK, planned the Urban Series event held on Wednesday at Bradley Stoke. The housing area with lots of dead ends and curvy roads lent itself to a lot of interesting route choice legs and occasionally it was quicker to head out to a river path or park for a smoother route. Despite the long travel and the rain, UBOC showed up in force and took 5 of the top 6 spots in the Blue course (Ben, Kit, Tom, me, Matt) with only Eddie Narbett from BOK breaking up our group. Lawrence and Michael had a tussle of their own and ended 39th and 40th respectively with 30s between them. On the Green course, Rachel Khan had a strong run and came 25th out of 40.

Bristol City Races

  • -Saturday – Tracy Tseng

This is my first time joining such a big event. The weather was so nice these two days. I was so excited the day before and feeling really happy after finishing the course when I can finally complete courses. The first day I missed the first point and ran the wrong direction, so I spent too much time getting lost. The others are fine; I did manage to find the right points with confident. The second day I thought it was going really well, but then I was lost again. Went to the wrong direction because I didn't turn the map to the right direction and meet Michael for three times I think. At one intersection a lady stopped me and asked me to check the point before I cross the road—she thought I was in the junior group although I’m wearing the UBOC top. That’s the most amusing part of the day. I really enjoy this event!

  • -Sunday – Ben Mitchell

Day 2 of the BOK blast took place around Bristols Temple Quarter and the Eastern side of the Harbourside. Most courses started in Castle park then wiggled through Temple over bridges and through underpasses and then into tricky local housing areas before heading over to Spike Island and finishing in Queen's Square. I was determined to have a good race today but again I was a little bit sloppy with my technique and made quite a few mistakes (They feel like an age but in reality are quite small) Anyway all that mattered in the end was that I was a whole second faster than Adam (yesterday’s winner) and took the win!

Well done to all who survived 2 days of pounding around the streets of Bristol. Now we have 2 new areas to train on!

RESULTS: Serious UBOC domination and lots of podium places!

Mens Senior (Sat)/Open (Sun)

  • Ben 2nd, 1st
  • Tom D 3rd, 5th
  • Kit 5th, 6th
  • Matt W MP, 8th ( Reclaimed as he's been recruited for Harvester)
  • Rory 9th, 10th
  • Matt P 6th, 14th (accelerating towards WOC 2018)
  • Mark 11th, 22nd
  • Lawrence 18th, 31st
  • Ho Ching rtd, 42nd
  • Michael 15th, 51st

Womens Senior (Sat)/Open (Sun)

  • Megan 1st, 1st
  • Abi K 6th, 6th
  • Rachel 24th on veteran women, 29th
  • Abi B 3rd on young adult women, (missed 30?) could have been 18th

Newcomers Medium Course

  • Tracy Tseng - 16th
  • and shout out to Jess Lavery (Mark Libbys girlfriend) 4th

Newcomers Short Course

  • Nuhaadh Mahid 2nd, 1st - fantastic double podium places for his first orienteering races!

Chippenham urban - Rachel Khan

On Wednesday afternoon, Matt, Tom and I got a lift with Katy to Chippenham for another BOK urban race. With the sun still high in the sky, Matt got an early start on the blue and hit the hot pavements first, followed shortly by me on the green and Tom later on the blue, after helping on registration. Assembly was in a school portacabin, and all the courses involved some annoyingly tricky navigation through the school grounds and tripped us all up in some way or another. After planning an escape route out of the school grounds, the map took us into some woodland along a stream (the dark green here on the map seemed a bit of an exaggeration though) and there was much confusion and attempted scrambling over crossable or maybe not so crossable walls... Matt also managed to find a secret tunnel under the road! Tom came in second after Adam Potter, Matt secured third place and I was chuffed to come 14th on the green! We all stayed to the bitter end and helped with control collecting, and after much grappling with the gripples, Katy drove the three us home and fed us her home made mincemeat loaf.

Night training report

On Friday night, a seven-strong squad of keen UBOCers headed out to Cleeve Hill for some pre-Harvester NightO training, courtesy of some inspired last-minute organisation from Tom Dobra (hereafter "Dobes", the "Dobinator", and anything relating trains and/or captaincy) and Matt Pickering (hereafter "Matt", or just "MP" if I'm feeling lazy). See here for an extended special feature featuring cake, compasses and controversy.

Ed: The author’s identity has been concealed, due to currently being under investigation. I accuse him of perverting the course of justice and he is likely to lie under oath (if he takes one). The full investigation will be disseminated via the most reliable communication channel.

JULY

Beacon Batch trail - Tom Dobra

I returned on Tuesday 20th June to the Burrington Inn for another 8 km trail race, this time with 300 m climb and summiting Beacon Batch for some amazing views on a baking hot evening. For me it was a tactical race, leading after the first 400 m, before dropping back to 6th on the first major climb then up to 5th with a large gap in front at the bottom of the hill again. A twisty, undulating, single-track path crossed two dry streams over which I closed the gap to 20 m and rose to 4th at the top of Beacon Batch. Enjoying the view and burning hard along the level, I opened a clear gap behind me ready for the steep descent into the finish, to come 4th, 4 s clear of 5th (but a minute behind 3rd). A couple of bowls of chips while waiting for prizegiving rounded off a fun evening.

Langford race report - Abi Kerr

Orienteers and sheep mixed at the first official Langford Veterinary School race on 21st June. Middle distance sprint-style courses, which caught many out, weaved between animal hospitals, stables, and labs. The map was specially produced for the event and attracted Bristol OK members, students and the local Guide unit. The locally based Adam & Chloe Potter smashed the longest ‘Super Beast’ course coming in first man and woman, with UBOC’s Tom Dobra 3rd and Matt Pickering 5th. Rachel Khan took on the medium ‘Little Beast’ course and came a very respectable 12th place mid-pack. Well done to everyone for surviving the heat and I hope that the new map will offer UBOC more sprint training opportunities in the future.

Harvester Relay - Tom Dixon

Do you wish sometimes you could be nocturnal? Do you love running in the dark? Do you like spending 20 minutes finding one control? If all of the above are true, you would have been sure to love the Harvester event on 24th-25th of June. Read all about it here.

Keynsham race report - Rachel Khan

Having got a lift in the green Forrestmobile, Tom, Matt and I arrived in a rather cloudy Kenysham, to partake in next chapter of the saga of the BOK urban summer series. Assembly was a car park, and despite asking Owain for directions, I managed to take the wrong way to the start and thus got photographed sheepishly walking sans map by a keen Steve Rush. The course started in a park and then took us out across the road and into a housing estate, mostly it was relatively straightforward, but at one point in a vain search for a through path (which was later pointed out to me to be impassable anyway) I wasted some time diving down every little ally discovering each in turn to be a dead end... Unusually, the finish control was semi hidden in a large pine tree, this initially led me to believe that everyone had already finished and left, but then I got sidetracked by a huge rat, and then realised that the finish was indeed still present and correct. I returned in 21st place on the Green course, and on the Blue, Tom (just pipped by Adam Potter) came second, and Matt (just pipped by Cecilie) came in 4th. Afterwards I had a conversation with Tom whilst sat in the car where he revealed to me that he is actually battery powered (thought this information needed to be shared) and we then inevitably discussed TrailO.

Dundry Thunder Run - Tom Dobra

Another trail race and another couple of hills on Thursday 29th June, but starting and finishing at the top. I started well and in control, but then disaster after the first kilometre! I tripped over something very small, grazing many places on my left side. This dropped me from 1st to 4th, but I hung on, completing the race to come 4th (again), but who knows where I could have been had it gone to plan? Another decent course, but personally I prefer the Mendips.

Moonraker Relay - Matt Pickering

The highly anticipated Moonraker relays finally took place on Sunday. As part of the prestigious South West relay series, it was with caution that Tom Dobra and I approached Dinton Hall.

Sitting in a couple of acres of parkland, the hall has an imposing view over the surrounding countryside. Teams of 3 assembled in its gaze, setting off simultaneously and having to run each of the four courses twice per team. The "Snail" contained a loop through woodland and then a second steeper loop. The "Microscore" with many controls in close proximity. The "Long", 2km. The "Butterfly", three loops.

To be honest, the courses were barely of yellow standard (Ed: actually orange, but I’ll leave you to make a point). Lots of controls on paths and some behind trees. This didn't stop me missing 5 controls over my three courses as our team crept into a feeble >4th place, crippled by our handicap and ability. On the other hand, it was good clean fun.

Clevedon urban race - Matt Pickering

A trip to the provincial city of Clevedon was in order for our weekly fix of urban orienteering. On a new map, new challenges were to be expected and indeed encountered. The course concentrated on the flat south end of Clevedon, took in all the sights and finished by the iconic marine lake. Some interpretive fence and vegetation mapping later, both Matt Whipple and myself ended up here probably in welcome sight of the finish after a long hot course.

European Cup in TrailO, Latvia round - Tom Dobra

As a warmup for WTOC, I did 3 days of TrailO in Dauvigpils, Latvia. I struggled in the PreO on Friday, scoring only 12 out of 19, on a course of vague undulations in a pine forest. Having learnt that lineups (sighting lines through other features, similar to bearings) was the way to solve the Latvian style, I fared much better on Saturday's PreO on neighbouring terrain to come 21st with 3 mistakes. Today, I rounded it off with a TempO of 6 stations, again in the same forest, with 4 mistakes in a somewhat sedate time of 244s, giving a score of 364s. Now that I'm back in the zone, I should be ready for a faster TempO at WTOC on Tuesday.