Oh No Not Again

Well so much for my grand plan for orienteering between now and July.

I was on my way to work on Monday morning when something distinctly snapped in my lower back, and I’ve essentially spend the intervening time in bed, in agony. Acute Low Back Pain (ALBP) is a very common ailment amongst people of my age, apparently – in my case I seem to suffer from it every half a year or so – and for me it is extremely painful – I have been unable to get to sleep for the last 24 hours*. However it has generally cleared up in 2-3 days, and I don’t notice anything after that (until the next time around…) However it puts paid to tonight’s event and possibly Sunday’s too. Reading around, the best cure for ALBP is surprisingly to be active as possible and in fact it’s only by walking that I’m not in any pain. “Keeping your normal routine” is advice I’ve frequently seen and while that was not possible today (without a lot of screaming, I would imagine) I’m going to try my best for the coming days.

Factor in the pectoral muscle strain I had in December, and my runner’s knee recurring in both February and April, and it really hasn’t been the best of seasons for me. However my most recent ailment was probably compounded by the lack of exercise, rather that too much of it – and my sitting desk job can’t be helping. So I’m hoping to bounce back and at least get something out of this season: warm weather training if nothing else (it’s currently 25C in London!)

* I’m really trying to keep to a policy of not taking painkillers unless I absolutely have to, last night was the closest I’ve ever come to giving in.


The Plan Ahead

[Updated 23 May] Well, my own season has been effectively decimated by my recurring injury problems from February onwards, however I’m now in a position to start attending some events for the season’s tail end. The UK orienteering season often winds up with smaller events and summer evening series – the kind of event ideal for me in my “unfit but willing” state!

My plan is:

  • Tuesday 18th May – SLOW Local Score Event, Beddington Park, South London (maybe.) (Bad back.)
  • Sunday 23rd May – TVOC District Event, Coombe Hill, Wendover. A physical, hilly area, this should wake me up with a start. (Slept in!)
  • Wednesday 2nd June – HAVOC Local Summer Evening Event, Epping South West, Chingford. Epping is always delightful at any time of the year, plus it’s within London so nice and close to get to.
  • Sunday 6th June – TVOC District Event, Great Hampden, Princes Risborough, OR MV Local Event, The Nower, Dorking.
  • Wednesday 9th June – TVOC Summer Series Local Event, Black Park, Slough.
  • Sunday 13th June – BADO District Event & SCOA League, Chawton Park & Bushy Leaze Wood, Alton, OR SAX District Event, Brede, Hastings.
  • Wednesday 16th June – CHIG Local Event, Latton Woods.
  • Sunday 20th June – HAVOC Try O, Thorndon Country Park (North), Brentwood.
  • Sunday 27th June – HAVOC Frolic Event, Epping SW/Pole Hill, Chingford.
  • Sunday 4th July – LOK Local Frolic Event, Trent Park, North London.
  • Wedesday 14th July – HAVOC Summer Evening Event, Bedfords Park, Romford.
  • Saturday 17th – 24th July – O-Ringen, Gothemburg, Sweden. I really hope I’m in shape by this time!

Nominative Determinism alive and well in Orienteering

Surnames of orienteers that sound like orienteering control descriptions:

Andrew Middleditch (SHUOC)
Simon Greenwood (SAX)
Nigel Bush (MV)
Ian Ditchfield (MV)
Andy, Elizabeth and Judy Bridge (SO)
Richard Field (SAX)
Neil Brooks (LOK)
Terry Marsh (SLOW)

Paul Street (SLOW)
Jonathan Street (HH)
Joe and Carol House (SO)
Pippa Whitehouse (SO)
David Funnell (SO)
Phil Marsland (SLOW)

More on Nominative Determinism.

Orienteering Events Log

Event: Longmoor, Haslemere

British Student Championships (BUSA) 2004, organised by OUOC – Individual Race, 6th March 2004.

BUSA Longmoor ExtractSometime last I was actually planning to plan this (no pun intended) race but as events transpired OUOC chose Luke M to plan the event, and I’m glad I had the opportunity to run at least part of his excellent course. I started the race aware of my knee injury from the previous week, but any thought that I could ignore the injury soon
evaporated after the fourth control, and I had to retire from the event, in considerable pain. It was doubly frustrating because Longmoor is a superb area – fast and open, but with enough contour detail to slow down the best from Edinburgh and Sheffield. What I saw was great, and I could have run a great run, but it was not to be this year.

The area is a military training area, which always makes an event more interesting – out of bounds really means out of bounds on these maps, unless you want to step on an unexploded bomb. The army was also carrying out
riot control drills, which made control 7 a rather interesting control to visit. A smell of fuel was in the area, the gorse was burnt, and it took only a few seconds to realise that the shiny objects on the ground were – petrol bombs.

BUSA Longmoor Extract 2The map extract above shows the intricate bit I didn’t get near to before retiring. The numerous tracks are tank tracks and as such not trival to cross! The extract to the left is simply here for posterity, to note the damn marsh that nearly everyone on the Men’s A course fell into, including several of the elites. I
heard plenty of people swearing about this one afterwards… It’s the blue line just above Control 3 – it’s actually a lot bigger a marsh than is indicated on the map.

Anyway well done to OUOC (my old club) for organising the event professionally and slickly. I was one of the proponents at the club AGM that we should go ahead and organise, and it was great to see the project come to fruition and have familiar faces behind one of UK orienteering’s premier events, even if I was just a competitor at the end of it, and an injured one at that.


Welcome to Yep Sport

I’ve launched this site today – most of the previous entries you see here are copied from my main weblog. My orienteering articles will all appear here going forward, as I look to split out the O content and increase my output.

The name is of course a play on “Nope Sport“, launched late last year by some Edinburgh students, which has with surprising speed become the place for the younger orienteering population of the UK to gossip, post and vent. After many doomed attempts to start up boards on various UK O websites (such as the BOF one) it’s great to see the nopesport forum take on a life of its own. And crucially for an O-website, and something most other O-web designers seem to have overlooked… it looks good. Damn good.

Anyway I hope they don’t mind me being inspired by their name!

I’m aiming for this site to be an events and training diary. Now, those who know me know also that I do diddly squat in the way of exercise. Hopefully having this website will encourage me to go do some this season. All I need to
do now is convalesce!


Injury Worries

My knee injury, which happened this time last year after I plunged my foot down a rabbit role while racing in a National, has recurred. The timing is unfortunate, as I’ve really come into fitness in the last few weeks, and seen my speed steadily increase. My injuries however always seem to happen after periods of relatively intense activity.

Unfortuantely I aggravated the injury further by attempting to run in the British Student Champs last week (more to follow on that.) The pain got too much after running down a bank and I had to bail out of a race I’d been looking forward to for several months. Even walking back to the start was exceedingly painful. Orienteering’s premier season really kicks off in a couple of weeks, so the timing just couldn’t have been worse.

Anyway I didn’t do any orienteering this weekend (I missed a club league event at Esher) and I’ve taken the last few days extremely lightly. I’m just hoping I’ll be able to run in the JK (Britain’s biggest event this year) over Easter. My form will have completely gone with no exercise in the build up, but that’s less important as long as I can actually make it into the forest!

C’est la vie.

Orienteering Events Log

Event: Parham Woods, Pulborough

Parham Extract 1District Event (SO), 29 Feburary 2004 – This was on a map not used for 25 years, and what a gem it is. I was running Brown (the top course) and after getting covered in tree sap following an initial few legs through very rough coniferous forest, the area opened out into a very nice, “lost forest” section that we were lucky enough to run through twice. I didn’t make many significant mistakes (save the one highlighted below) and had another good run – after last week’s good run also, I was starting to feel I’d found my form for this season. (And then I go and get injured the following day, more on that in a later entry…) The really pleasant section is shown in the map extract on the right. As you can see, it isn’t all that technical at all, but there’s enough in there to make it

Parham Extract 2My result: 8.24km/115m – 67:53 (8.2 mins/km). Full results are here.

One annoying mistake I made (annoying as it was a careless one and was just a result of me starting to tired near the race end) was overshooting on the approach to number 22. For some reason I forgot to check my compass, hit the
marsh leading into 23, and proceeded along that, expecting to find 22. Of course, 22 is actually not really in a marsh at all – more of a slight ditch, and so I had to retrace my steps – 60-90s lost there.

Orienteering Events Log

Event: Hindleap Warren, Ashdown Forest

Regional Event, 22 February 2004 – I turned up and ran the open short course (M21S) on this rather attractive map – my first experience of the delights of Ashdown Forest in the South Downs. The warren itself is nearly inpenetrable as it’s very thickly vegetated (or “green” in O-speak.) However the surrounding sections consist of extremely pleasant, lightly forested woodland. The area is quite steep for Southern England, and I was expecting a slow time (225m of climb for the short course is much more than normal) but I got around pretty fast. A couple of legs were so attractive, that if the whole map had been like this, I wouldn’t hesitate to place this forest in my Top 10 UK areas of all time.

Hindleap Warren extractI had a near faultless run, just a little slow as usual. The extract shows on of my favourite legs – on running from 9 to 10, I crossed the good open ground on the left and ran straight down the wide ride running east, peeling off at the last possible moment. The terrain was suprisingly heathery – it could have been part of Scotland.

My result, for 7.1km/225m – 57:42 (8.1 mins/km.) I finished 2nd which was a nice result and my highest for a long time. (Full results here.) It really didn’t feel like 225m of climbing at all. My energy at the finish though was somewhat tempered though by the thought of the impending 4 mile walk back to the train station.


My Ten Favourite UK Areas

Me in The Trossachs[This article originally appeared on my main weblog, but has been updated several times since.] I’ve been meaning to make this list for a while, as I’ve now run in around 150 areas around the country, in the last 8 or so years. Here are the top 10 UK areas I’ve run on, and the worst one too… Free to add your own choices as comments.

Right: A photo of me, aged 10, climbing in the Trossachs – long before I did any orienteering there! Below: A detail from the Trossachs map.

In reverse order:

10. Ham Hill, SW England
Fast but interesting with some odd statues and a nice view from the monument at the top of this oddly shaped hill.

9. Epping Forest East, SE England
There are several orienteering maps covering Epping Forest and I’ve enjoyed all of them. Epping Forest East in particular is a great area. I ran here in late Autumn, on a cold but sunny day. The forest is just beautiful, with lovely glades, grand old trees, little vegetation, and lots of open sections. It is also a devilishly technical area. I got severely lost when I was here, in a highly, highly confusing bit. Orienteers don’t like getting lost, but they do like maps that have to make them think. The area is all the more amazing considering it’s inside the M25, so it really isn’t far away at all.

8. Bigland, Lake District
A wonderful mix of steep, technical woodlands, large, detailed moorland, and open grassland making it a very spectator friendly area. Bigland is a big area, appropriately enough, and has a bit of everything. Despite a howling blizzard at one point, I really enjoyed my race there.

7. Holyrood Park, SE Scotland
Sure it’s hardly a very technical area, but it is steep, suprisingly big, the views are superb, and best of all it’s right in the heart of beautiful Edinburgh, right beside the new parliament.

6. Roseisle Forest, North Scotland
Superb running in this fast, coastal forest in Moray. The lack of vegetation on the ground means it’s easy to glide through the trees. The northen end is more intricate, the southern end is exceptionally fast. And there’s a lovely beach, stretching for many miles. Gorgeous.

The Trossachs5. Anagach Wood, North Scotland
This is a small but very attractive area, it’s flat with glacial moraines, and there’s a scattering of ancient pine forest mixed in with the newer trees. It has a very Scandinavian feel to it – the only downside is the large number of cold marshes!

4. Archerfield, SE Scotland
This was my first ever area, so this is a nostalga entry really. I ran a yellow and then light-green course the same day, back in 1995. Sadly, these days much of the estate is off-limits, but I’ve been back to the sand-dune bit recently for a ‘Hagasby’-style relay.

3. Burnham Beeches and Egypt Woods, SE England
Wonderful silver birches and beech woodland, flat but not too flat, dry and fast. I was injured when I was there, so had the time to walk around and apprieciate it.

2. Creag Mhic Chailein, West Scotland
I’ve only run here once, in the British Champs in 1996. I remember a very challenging course, but a lovely contrast between rolling, varied moorland, and broken, ancient Caledonian pine forest, with intricate morainne features.

1. Trossachs, Central Scotland
A beautiful area, both physically and technically amongst the toughest in the UK. Extremely steep and intricate, the map is a work of art to look at. I’ve never actually completed a race here without retiring, despite three attempts, so for that reason it is also one of my worst areas. But it is the number one area I want to return to – it really is worth travelling the length of the country to run here.

And my worst area:
Linn of Tummel, Central Scotland
A lovely place, but I spent an awful 2 hours falling down grassy slopes and then giving up, 50% of the way around the course, only to find about 10 blood-sucking ticks on my legs. Eurgh!


Varsity Match History

This is a table of the individual and team winners of the annual Oxford vs Cambridge Varsity orienteering match. The earlier races are compiled from the VM archive page on the CUOC website. See also OUOC‘s website.

This table originally appeared here in early 2003. It is regularly updated to include results from subsequent years.

Men Women
Year Team Individual Team Individual Location
1972 Cambridge Cardiff (BUSF)
1973 Cambridge Newcastle (BUSF)
1974 Cambridge David Rosen Buckinghamshire
1975 Oxford Tak Sugiyama Hertford
1976 Oxford Tak Sugiyama Lancashire
1977 Oxford Hilary Beck Cambridge Allyson Reed Cannock Chase
1978 Cambridge Chris Hurst Cambridge Allyson Reed Surrey
1979 Oxford Chris Hurst Cambridge Allyson Reed Wiltshire
1980 Cambridge Chris Hurst Cambridge Mary Ockenden Surrey
1981 Cambridge Martin Elgood Cambridge Allyson Reed Sheffield
1982 Cambridge Dave Nevell Cambridge Allyson Reed Surrey
1983 Cambridge Quentin Harding Cambridge Karen Birkinshaw Surrey
1984 Cambridge Quentin Harding Cambridge Sarah Kelly Derbyshire
1985 Cambridge Quentin Harding Oxford Cathy Smith Hampshire
1986 Oxford Rob McMillan Oxford Rona Yard Lancashire
1987 Oxford Steve Nicholson Oxford Ann Heyworth Swansea
1988 Cambridge Steve Nicholson Cambridge Ann Heyworth Alderley Edge
1989 Cambridge Steve Nicholson Cambridge Jenny James Cleveland
1990 Cambridge Simon Bourne Cambridge Jenny James South Yorkshire
1991 Oxford Paul Warren Cambridge Heather Monro Sussex
1992 Oxford James Pearce Cambridge Heather Monro Coventry
1993 Cambridge James Pearce Oxford Moira Hadwen Birmingham
1994 Cambridge Tim Lenton Oxford Jenni Adams Cumbria
1995 Cambridge Keith Graetz Oxford Jenni Adams Cannock Chase
1996 Oxford Duncan Archer Cambridge Ann Collyer Fontainebleau, France
1997 Cambridge Eric Roller Cambridge Christine Ashton Cumbria
1998 Oxford Duncan Archer Cambridge Catherine Ashton Shropshire
1999 Cambridge Mark Bown Cambridge Rachael Elder Merthyr Mawr
2000 Cambridge Alex Rothman Oxford Rachael Elder New Forest
2001 Oxford Mark Bown Oxford Rachael Holmes New Forest
2002 Cambridge Mark Bown Cambridge Rachael Elder Stockholm, Sweden
2003 Oxford Ed Catmur Oxford Pippa Whitehouse North York Moors
2004 Oxford Ed Catmur Oxford Pippa Whitehouse Wimbledon Common, London
2005 Oxford Ed Catmur Oxford Cerys Manning Stockholm, Sweden
2006 Cambridge Alan Elder Cambridge Helen Gardner Leith Hill, Surrey
2007 Cambridge Joe Mercer Oxford Helen Gardner Wharncliffe Wood, Sheffield
2008 Oxford Joe Mercer Oxford Helen Gardner Uppsala, Sweden
2009 Oxford Ben Stevens Oxford Liz Bridge Epping Forest
2010 Oxford Matt Halliday Oxford Anne Edwards Penhale
2011 Oxford Peter Hodikinson Cambridge Mairead Rocke Supi Hora, Czech Republic
2012 Oxford Peter Hodikinson Cambridge Mairead Rocke Burnham Beeches
2013 Oxford Peter Hodikinson Cambridge Jessica Mason Tankersley
2014 Stockholm, Sweden
Totals 20 O-C 22 20 O-C 20 15 O-C 22 15 O-C 22 40 Matches